A little while back, my cousin Jason opened shop for a new Blog aimed at celebrating his hobby of action figure collecting. (I know they are referred to as collectibles, but if I led with Collectible Collecting my 10th Grade English Teacher would be on my ass for my alarming abuse of alliteration.)
Anyway, you can read all about this 40-Year Old Virgin at… (Jason – I kid!!! I Kid!!! I know you’re turning 30 this year). All good-natured teasing aside, Jason’s store front is at Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation . It’s a really well-developed website with my main man Sean handling the construction while Jason and his friend Kate applied the paint and decorations. All in all, it’s a very eye-appealing website aimed at current collectible buffs as well as anyone who ever played with his ‘guys’ (no, not his ‘boys’ – although I can clue you in on a few web sites for that too, if that’s your thing).
While I stored my toys in the attic a long time ago, I definitely recognize the fever that afflicts some of my peers to dust these things off and begin collecing anew. Simply put, when times get so hectic with work, family, kids, bills, home repair, Mob dues… we need an escape from reality. Fortunately for most of us, that hatch is built right in (one of those little perks of being self-thinking bipeds) and all it takes is one little neural time warp to bring back the good tidings and warm blanket of nostalgia.
For me, it’s video games. For others, it might be a baseball card collection. For a select few, deviant sickos – maybe ceramic clowns. For Jason and his posse, it’s action figures.
Whatever it is, one should take pride in their passion (except you clowners – you should take downers!!!). It’s nice to see that as years have fallen from the calendar, these former niche hobbies have come down from the attic to play as the World Wide Web has allowed enthusiasts to connect and to share in their hobby together. What a wonderful invention Al Gore hath wrought. The Internet brings supposed ‘freaks’ together and reveals them as normal and conversely takes average housewives and through the magic of a Web Cam and a licorice whip turns them into freakish dominatrixes.
Ahhhh, the Internet. Is there anything you can’t do?
Anyway, while I encourage you to visit my cousin’s site and take your own trip down memory lane, I wanted to repost my piece here for the simple fact that I am using this site as a scrapbook of my second half-life’s writings. If I scrawled it on a cocktail napkin or chiseled a MASH note on a tree, you can rest assured it’s going to find its way to this site. I want this site to serve as the permanent record of what was going on in your Ed at any given time from my mid-30’s onward.
With that said, I present Jason’s piece which ran the day after Christmas. I have linked to the original piece as well. I mean it – go Check that Site out. It really is Beautiful!!!
One last note – my handle, Mistah Plow, comes from my Gamertag ID used on XBox Live. I’ve always felt a kinship to our beloved Homer Simpson and now that I look like him, I might as well assume his identity. It’s only a matter of time before I die the skin yellow and lop off a finger on each hand. You heard it here first!!! D’oh!!!
5 Questions with Mistah Plow
Codename: Mistah Plow
Base of Operations: The Ed Zone
History: Mistah Plow was born in the early 1970s–mere moments before Pong would change the world forever. A quick pick-up-and-play session of Yars Revenge led to a lifelong obsession with video games. Plow attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from 1990 to 1994 and graduated with a B.A. in Journalism. Realizing quickly that the road to Chris Hansen was an uphill battle the likes of which only Sisyphus had seen, Plow quickly went for the paycheck and took the offramp to Corporate America. Although he has worked in the financial industry since his graduation, he has continued to scratch that creative writing itch through an alarming number of failed screenplay attempts. Regardless, that call forever beckons–hence his personal blog, The Ed Zone, was born. Plow utilizes that site to pontificate on all manner of topics. It is a forum for relaying anecdotes, providing news of the day, dispensing his observations on all manner of pop-culture (movie, television and game reviews) and beaming like the proud family man he is with tales from clan Humphries errr…Plow.
PG: What were the major toy fads of your childhood?
I was 5 when Star Wars–Episode IV–A New Hope launched so the Kenner Star Wars figures were the go-to-guys for me. I had the Landspeeder–which boasted this mirrored adhesive along the bottom track that provided the illusion that the speeder was floating over our shag carpeting. I recall the exact moment I was gifted that piece. Asleep in my hospital bed–hours after a tonsillectomy–I had Obi-Wan’s sweet ride dropped on my noggin’ by my Dad–his little way of waking me and surprising me at the same time. Back then, when someone tossed a toy at your head, you smiled broadly and begged for more. These days, you call the Department of Social Services.
A neighbor of mine had the Death Star Play Set with that cool, “working” trash compactor (complete with sewer monster and foam rubber blocks of trash). Oh, the things we crushed in that. I think we even gave someone a vasectomy but the memory is fuzzy on that.
I’d say the other big lines I got into were G.I. Joe and Transformers. Both became popular right around the time I was cresting the top of junior high (eighth grade) when it was no longer cool to play with toys. But those toys looked so cool. It wasn’t my fault the world hadn’t realized how to properly mold plastic before that time. Why should I suffer? Plus, I had my first job (a paper route which saw my first day begin in September 1985–the same day Hurricane Gloria hit southeastern Massachusetts) that provided me with the necessary funds to feed the hobby.
I remember one pay day–just a few days shy of Christmas–where after collecting my customer’s weekly debt and paying the Patriot Ledger its share–I took my cut and proceeded to the local K-Mart to complete some Christmas shopping for my family. I waltzed in with fifty bucks in my pocket and a laundry list of assorted baubles that would make them beam bright the next morning. I walked out with Destro, Cobra Commander, Snake-Eyes and the entire line of Dreadnaughts (including their vehicles.) Oh, and a few of those 99-cent Three Flavors-in-One Popcorn Tubs for the fam. Two days later I unwrapped Destro, Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes…all three, gifts from my parents. With each guy now sporting a doppelgänger, there was only one thing left to do. Execute Order 66 and initiate my own personal Clone War. Out came the Death Star playset. In went Destro’s junk.
PG: What was your favorite action figure?
The Shogun Warriors’ Godzilla figure. This mammoth thunder lizard stood about a foot tall and boasted a launching fist and a fire tongue to make Gene Simmons jealous. Imagine what some fetish websites could do with this bad boy. I was a HUGE Godzilla fan (I cried when the Smog Monster almost snuffed him for good) and this replica allowed me to get my Man-in-the-Suit action on. I probably received Godzilla sometime in the late 1970s/early ’80s, meaning he got to mix it up with all of my other figures. In my playtime, Godzilla was always one mean mutha, so he’d show Duke who was boss, wallop a Wookie and put flames on Optimus Prime all before breakfast. The greatest thing was lining up my guys and then playing a little fist bowling with Godzilla’s rocket hand (look, I understand why Gaiking had working missiles, but why the hell did Godzilla’s fist fly and how did he get it reattached? You stomp on my city–I’m not covering you under my medical plan).
What is great about Godzilla is how much he has endured. When I had my Toy Story 2 moment and eventually grew older, leaving the big guy behind, I gifted him to my cousin, Poe. It must have hit at just that sweet spot where childhood dreams merge with life long obsessions as Godzilla instantly fused himself to Poe’s DNA (you should see this guy breathe radioactive fire and fly backwards–it’s really impressive at Thanksgiving).
Then at my son’s baby shower–just a few weeks before his arrival–I unwrapped a special gift from my cousin. Godzilla had returned to the nest. And there he stands sentinel in four-year-old Colin’s room awaiting the impending arrival of my boy’s own toy obsession.
PG: If you were made into an action figure, what would you look like, what would your features be, and what accessories would you come with?
As I now have a completely shaved cabeza (that’s Spanish for head), I’d have a bar code on the back which would ring up $531,8008. The mirror accessory in my back pocket could then be used to decipher that code. Yup, my figure would promote BOOBIES and send Huckabee into a tizzy. I would have 156 points of articulation and would cause the deaths of at least thirty-six sweatshop workers toiling on such a complicated toy. I’d be recalled for the massive amounts of lead paint on my body and then I, personally, would die a horrible death after I ignored the warnings on the box and tried to eat myself.
PG: Does your own son like action figures, or is going right to the videogames?
My son is four, so he is just on the precipice of joining the fray. He does like pulling Godzilla down to stomp on LEGO Town but right now trucks and trains rule the day. Oh…and the Backyardigans. I think the sweet spot for action figure play comes in around five or six, so we’re almost there. As his old man is a veritable video game junkie (we’re currently a Wii60 household) and I have owned most everything from the Atari 2600 on up, I have already taken him under my wing and have begun to teach my young Padawan my trade. At the tender age of four, he can successfully make it to World 1-2 all on his own in Super Mario Brothers (bless you Virtual Console!) But I have no doubt that we’ll have a healthy mix of action figures, video gaming and good old fashioned outdoor activities.
PG: What’s your fondest toy-related Christmas memory?
The Christmas I opened Optimus Prime. Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of cash to go around, meaning I was often gifted the Go-Bots in place of the more expensive Transformers. The one gift I wanted over all–call it my own personal Red Ryder BB Gun–was Optimus Prime. At the time, he was one of the largest Transformers and arguably the coolest. I remember hinting around for it constantly and feeling that nagging notion in the back of my head that try as hard as I might, Optimus would remain in dreams. So imagine my ’surprise’ when I awoke Christmas morning, rushed to my pile of presents, and unwrapped our great leader in all his Prime and glory.
I say imagine my surprise because that’s exactly what I had to do. Imagine it. Fake it. As the surprise had been spoiled a week earlier by this site’s founder, and my little cousin, Poe himself.
That little bastard. He ruined the best Christmas ever!!