Sunday, July 22, 2007
Better Than Awesome Toys!
Growing up we probably all had one or two toys that we loved over and above anything else we had to play with. I'm going to come back to this topic again, because the world of toys tends to get under-rated and under-appreciated as we are told we have to "grow up". Then one day we wake up and wonder whatever happened to that thing that used to give you so much joy? It may have been a new pack of pencil crayons, the feel and smell of sharpening them for the first time, deliberately choosing colours for your first picture drawn with a new pack.
It could have been the new velvet "doodle art", with the felt pens that always ran out of ink just before you finished the childhood equivalent of a Jimmy Hendrix experience.
Maybe it was that slinky that you thought was so cool (hint: hold one end of a metal slinky to your ear and let the other end drop to the floor-you get the perfect "lazer beam" sound effect!!)
It could easily have been the box of lego that you would dearly love to have again to build an invincible wall around your cubicle at work to keep the number-crunching office dweebs from "motivating" you with empty babble like "work smarter, not harder" or "you can be replaced, you know".
For one childhood buddy, it was the talking G.I. Joe that he took into the bathtub with his bad self. After Joe was immersed, his selection of cool phrases ("Ok men, let's take that hill!!") was reduced to a crackling wheeze along the lines of "chscheeelrooschick-ick-ick-ick-awwwwwwww", transforming him into "sucking chest wound Joe", which was pretty cool in itself.
For me, one toy literally stood head-and shuolder above the rest, he would have to be...."Captain Action" (pictured above).
Don't let the Captain's perpetually dispepsic expression fool you, he was easily the coolest of the cool when it came to "action figures" (don't even think of calling them "dolls"....pu-leeze!! The Captain came to you as a superhero in his own right. He wore a somewhat dorky Captain's cap, but carried an awesomely-lethal-looking lightening sword and lazer pistol. His adversary with the bulgy-eyed "Dr. Evil" (sorry Mike Myers, though I suspect you had these guys yourself when you were a kid!!). Dr Evil flaunted his exposed brain and blue skin, and wore the coolest satin pajamas, sandals and mojo-amulet of any super villian. Alone, these two could wreak havoc across any bedroom, living room or rec room. No sister's Barbie was save fom Evil's clutches, no dog could go unridden by the Captain!
What made these guys the best of the best, however, was that you could buy extra costumes to turn Captain Action into WHATEVER HERO YOU WANTED!!!! Spiderman! Superman! The Green Hornet!!! All you needed was to nag your parents for a few extra bucks to get an ENTIRELY NEW ACTION FIGURE!! The "hand candy" included in each set was awesome as well-guns, swords, miniature laboratories, kryptonite, you name it, it was probably included in the set.
After it's initial release, the makers added the inevitable "sidekick" for the Captain (action boy? kid action? lugubrious lad? if anyone remembers, please post!), that could be dressed as "robin", "kato" etc. I never thoguht much of sidekicks, but I vagely remember having this one-I think he had a pet panther for some reason!!
The Captain never really gained the success of G.I. Joe or Johnny West, quite possibly due to his odd expression, or maybe his "logo" which looked mr like a pleas for recycling than a brave expression of heroism. Whatever, Captain Action will forever remain, in my mind, a toy that was Better Than Awesome!