Monday, September 1, 2008

How to Score Chicks…Or, So You Want to Collect Action Figures? (Part One of Three)

To kick off our second week here at Exfanding Your Horizons, we have a special guest blogger. The topic? Toys! Uh, I mean Action Figures! Anyway, our buddy Gary wrote up an epic post, so we’ve split it up into three parts. Here’s part one:

An Introduction To Action Figure Collecting, Part One
By Gary Hochreiter

Christmas. It's like Christmas each time I open a new toy. The sweet smell of plastic, the feeling of control I get from manipulating my newest addition once freed from its plastic and cardboard confines.

As a child, my imagination was given a physical manifestation through my toys that served as a release from those things that I had no control over. Now, I wasn't an “at risk” child or anything, but I still had the typical frustrations that kids have with the grown-up world. That frustration has only increased as time has gone on, and the need to feel in control has never been greater.

So, who is this guy and why is he telling this to us? Well, I guess it’s to explain what being a collector means. The only way I know how to do that is by taking you through my own experiences of thirty-some odd years of collecting.

I was born in Allentown, PA, in 1974. My family moved outside of Philly a few years later before finally moving to Connecticut in 1980. My first introduction to action figures was Fisher-Price’s Adventure People line. I recall my favorites being the Wild Animal Safari and the TV Action Team (with a working camera—no actual film, though, just an image created by lenses).

Then came a little movie that changed my life and the lives of most of the other kids at the time. Of course, I'm talking about Star Wars (A New Hope for all you young people out there). Soon, my life, like the lives of almost every boy in the world, was consumed with all things Star Wars. Bed sheets, towels, pajamas, drinking glasses, clothing…anything and everything with Star Wars on it was cool. And then came the wonderful Kenner toys and vehicles. The epitome of which was the Millennium Falcon. Those two lines took me through to the early eighties, which would see the launch of the three biggest toy lines ever.

Sometime in 1982, my uncle, a USMC major, gave me a present. It was a motorized tank toy that came with a guy whose arms and knees could bend as well as do splits. That was none other than the M.O.B.A.T. from the new G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero 3 1/4' line.

I looked for some allies for Steeler and came home with the Joe in Black, Snake Eyes. When I saw the mini-series, I was hooked. I never really got into the Masters of the Universe line because of G.I.Joe, and I never needed to because my best friend was a huge fan and had ALL of the figures—not to mention Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain! (Oh, the epic battles we fought across his family's billiard room…)

I did have a few though, including He-Man and Man-At-Arms, my two favorites. So my best friend and I had this unspoken arrangement where he would come to my house and play Joes as COBRA and I would go over to his house and play He-Man as Skeletor and his minions.

Incidentally, it was G.I.Joe that led to my other hobby, comics. The very first comics I bought (bought, not read) were a Toys 'R Us three pack of the Marvel Comics Joe series, including the famous silent issue #21.

Shortly thereafter the Transformers show appeared on TV, and I started another collection of toys.

And that’s all we have time for today, boys and girls. But don’t worry, Part Two of Gary’s epic three-part post will be up tomorrow! Be sure to check it out. And, of course, if you’d like to join in on this toy-centric discussion, please post your comments below!

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