Figure Friday: Diary of a Toy Collector as a Young Man

I recently had a birthday. I don’t care to use the word “celebrated” in front of birthday because for the last decade plus I’ve come to view birthdays as something to be endured. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I’ve made it through another year and being here is preferable to the alternative…but I loathe being the center of attention.

It’s also of note that I’m not writing about my birthday as a passive-aggressive reminder for anyone that forgot to wish me a happy birthday, I’ve gone to some lengths to obfuscate the day so that I can remain unbothered.

Or as much as a son can be unbothered by a mother that insists on marking the occasion. 
It would be pretty rude not to acquiesce to the demands of someone that suffered hours upon hours of labor to bring me into this world so that I could be writing this column for you today. My folks took me to see Indiana Jones and the Whatever of Something and I’m pretty pleased to say it’s not the worst Indy movie and moreover that it was pretty ok!

Annual tradition dictates that the circumstances surrounding my birth be retold to me and the following plot points must be communicated 

1) My father made my mother sit on that year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on the way to the hospital.
2) The doctor who delivered me was drunk (it was the ’70’s).
3) My dad was the designated catcher (see #2).
4) They thought I was dead on arrival due to my extreme quietness.
Bonus: It will also be said that I was almost a golden retriever due to my father’s counteroffer when my mom brought up having kids.

Now that we’re about roughly halfway through this thing, you’re likely wondering how all this relates to toys. 

Well, this was the year that I finally caved and took my baby book home at my mother’s urging and let me tell you that it is a treasure trove of trivia about my early years. You see, my mother took obsessive notes about the first half a dozen years of my life which also included itemized lists of birthday gifts received. 

On July 5th, 1984 at Major Magic’s Pizza Palace I received my very first Transformer…and the rest is history.

This is a photo of one of the reissues I found online. Cut an old man some slack.

The are also a shitload of other toys on the list but the Transformer was what always stuck in my memory from that birthday. A car that could turn into a ROBOT?! What will they think of next?
For the record, the Transformer in question was Windcharger. one of the mini-car robot toys, and whiles it wasn’t on the same level as say Soundwave or Optimus Prime, it was small enough to fit in my pocket so it went everywhere with me. 

I’ve collected some of my mother’s observations from the “Special Interests and Activities” section from birthdays 3-5 and it’s hilarious to me how little I’ve changed

  • Third Birthday: “Loves Star Wars characters, Spider-Man, and comic books. Especially likes Saturday morning cartoons.”
  • Fourth Birthday: “Star Wars! Favorite character Luke Skywalker. Enjoyed seeing Return of the Jedi movie. Enjoys books and comic books.”
  • Fifth Birthday: “Interest in Star Wars continues. Likes Masters of the Universe things. Loves comic books. Enjoys Saturday morning cartoons.”

All these things are still very much true after decades and decades. I’d like to think that my interests have matured and varied over the years but there’s just no replacing the old favourites, I guess. 
I think anyone who writes about pop culture and toy ephemera, like me, never grew away from what initially drew them to the stuff they love. My mom may have chucked all my old toys at some point (which I will never let her forget) but my love of those things endured, mutated and now gets released biweekly as this here column. 

It’s such a strange thing that I’ve devoted (and enjoyed) all the nights and weekends spent hunting for and writing about toys. It’s also wonderful that I never really felt the pressure to “put away childish things” from my parents or was ever urged to just grow up. It’s a unique luxury and privilege to be able to write about such silly things.

Like, “I got my new SH Figurarts Obi-Wan Kenobi in the mail from Japan last week…and it’s just kind of okay.” 

And THAT is how you do 700-odd words about not liking your birthday and not really having anything of interest to say about an action figure you just bought.  

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