It’s Figure Friday AND Canada Day AND 4th of July weekend! Quick! Post some obscenely pro-American stuff when the editors aren’t looking! Uh…America is so great that I don’t even want to LIVE here anymore! Yeah, that’ll do it.
With things being unilaterally terrible my desire to retreat into the false safety of isolation is only offset by my desire to write about absolute lunacy to make myself feel better, if only for a little while. Since I’m part of what is most likely the first full generation of adults who are toy collectors I’m comfortable writing that it is an inherently dumb hobby.
I don’t mean that in the pejorative sense of the word, of course. As an adult collecting action figures and other ephemera meant for children it’s an inherently silly hobby…and that’s great. Nostalgia and escapism are essentially dead ends if abused but when employed in moderation they can really make things a bit more tolerable. At least that’s how it works for me, your mileage may vary.
I imagine what things must have been like for my grandfathers’ generation. I have to believe that in the last 40 to 50 years of their lives their hobbies were primarily sports, alcoholism, and hating the goddamn Beatles and their long hair. It’s probably starting to make sense why their default mode was “general annoyance.” I think my grandfather may have served under General Annoyance right up until the Germans (unsuccessfully) tried to blow him up in the north of Italy 70+ years ago.
Now buckle up because you’re about to get whiplash.
I’m here today to write about…Wun-Dar.
The figure of Wun-Dar is an homage to the original promotional figure given away through the mail in 1981. In the late 1990s an unusual repaint of He-Man began appearing on eBay. He sported the same color scheme that Wun-Dar would come to have. For many years there was much uncertainty about the origin of this figure and it was long believed he came from a promotion with the Wonder Bread sliced bread company however more recent research since the release of the Classics figure has disproved this. This He-Man variant was available through a promotion where you could buy 3 figures and get one free in the mail, this figure was savage He-Man.
The Wun-Dar figure is an homage to this mysterious He-Man variant and the assumed background to the figure. The loaf of bread and the “savage” descriptor are clear nods to this. There is also a semi-hidden feature on this figure that pays tribute to the controversy; on the back of the armor, on the end of the small peg at the bottom, is a symbol consisting of three colored circles that is very similar to the Wonder Bread logo.
That right there is the stuff that keeps me collecting toys. I’ve been pretty hard to pin down with respect to what I will and will not buy but sometimes something comes along that is just so unrelentingly silly that I must possess it (ex: the Hot Wheels Thanos copter).
That brings us up to last Friday when Mattel Creations dropped the newest version of Wun-Dar, which I simply had to have. I set a reminder on my calendar, I blocked off a portion of my day, logged on to their website at the appointed time and I ACTUALLY got one.
However, my experience was not indicative of how it went for other seekers of Wun-Dar. You see, Wun-Dar sold out in an astounding two minutes. On Twitter I saw tales of woe from collectors who had the site crash to others who had the figure in their virtual cart only to have it disappear upon check out. At 12:02 I got my order confirmation email and at 12:03 I got an email saying that the figure was backordered and I needed to confirm that I actually wanted one to get it, which I then did.
Earlier in the day I saw that people were already pre-selling the figure for four times the retail price. These people are toy scalpers and we do not like them. Pro-tip, if you ever see some one pre-selling a collectible on eBay or whatever they’re selling something they don’t have in-hand, which I’m pretty sure is in violation of the site’s policies so feel free to report those listings as you see fit. Toy scalpers make things harder on the rest of us and I’m sure some of you reading are going to say, “Oh, but the free market!” blah, blah, blah. Fuck ‘em. Go invest in NFTs or crypto and leave me alone.
While I’m pointing fingers, I find it mind-blowing that Mattel Creations allowed people to order up to THREE Wun-Dars at a time. That is absolute madness. I snagged one because that’s all I need. The case can be made for ordering two if you want to keep one in the box and open/display the other but three is just scalper bait. For me, it did take a bit of the fun out of the whole thing when everyone who wanted one couldn’t get one and I know that some of you out there are going to pay through the nose to get one, which isn’t great.
Here’s the part where I kind of throw my hands up and acquiesce to the “nature of the beast” that is toy collecting. Retailers and scalpers don’t care as long as they’re getting as much of your money as possible and, as collectors, there’s only so much we can personally do to act ethically when chasing down a ridiculous He-Man figure.