Here at the Quiet Room, we each have our own interests. We all love a variety of entertainment, and share common interests with each other, of course. For instance, we all love music, although Garv is quite the guitar player. Jake loves to read and loves the classic Universal Monsters. Ryan is a huge table-top game enthusiast. Tony is our resident sports guru. Brandon is, well, best-selling author Brandon Hale. And me? I like sports, I love movies, TV, video games, table-top games, books, and music. But if I had to narrow it down, I am a toy guy. And welcome to a section I am going to call The Collector’s Corner.
Garv, you did say I can have an office, and I told you this was The Collector’s Corner, I thought I was getting a corner office. Why am I across from the restrooms? And I did fill out a request form for air freshener. A can of Glade? Some Febreze? Anything? Bueller?
Almost all of us had toys growing up, using our imaginations to entertain ourselves and interact with our friends in a fantasy setting. It provided a lot of fun for many of us when we were children. And most of us moved away from toys as we grew older, and some go back. I did. And I have not stopped.
Yes, I collect toys. Call it whatever you want, whether it be Peter Pan syndrome, refusal to “grow up”, immaturity, or any other euphemism you choose. Why would a grown man play with toys, or even collect them? Why do I collect toys? What do I find appealing about it? Well, sit back, and let me tell you exactly why.
I was brought into this world in the latter half of the 70′s. It was a great time to be a kid, we had this great shag carpet to play in, fascinating color choices consisting of browns, oranges, greens, and yellows throughout our homes, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room. And the clothes, wow, I loved the western style shirts with the white shoulders and collars with the steel buttons with the opalescent finish, complete with bell bottoms and moccasins. Thanks mom, loved your choices for me.
Yeah, that shit all sucked. What made the 70′s great for me was a little movie called Star Wars. OK, so I don’t really remember precisely when I first saw it, I was only one year old when it came out, but, I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back in a theater. And I do remember Christmas of 1979. I got Star Wars toys. And the rest is history, as they say.
Yes, Star Wars toys, action figures and playsets, hooked me into my toy collecting at a young age. So from 1979 to 1982, all I knew was Star Wars. I would spend countless hours recreating the scenes from the movies in the backyard, the front yard, the living room, my bedroom, the den, the bathtub (screw a rubber duck, my bathtub was Dagobah), anywhere I could carry my figures and vehicles, I did so. Then, in the Summer of 1982, I discovered something new: He-Man.
I LOVED the Masters of the Universe line. The toys were great, initially, each of the figures came packed with a mini-comic, and the origins of He-Man were different from the cartoon. It was then that I discovered that you can have different continuities with a property, and I was perfectly cool with that. He-Man really opened up an entire new realm for me imaginatively. My entire toy world to this point had been space themed, now I had entered the fantasy world. And really, a Star Wars figure looks cool in an X-Wing fighter cockpit, but, you couldn’t twist Luke Skywalker’s waist and make him punch Darth Vader in the face. He-Man could do that. Eat that, Luke.
And as much as I loved He-Man and Star Wars, nothing could prepare me for what was to come. For Christmas in 1982, I was given my first G.I. Joe toys. My mind was blown and forever changed. G.I. Joe introduced me to an entirely different world, one of military men and women, fighting to defend the world from terrorist organizations. And the figures and playsets were the greatest of all time. Now I had an action figure that had the same size as a Star Wars figure, but had even more range of motion than a Star Wars figure and a Masters of the Universe figure combined. G.I. Joes had full ranges of motion, incredible for a 3 and 3/4 inch figure. And holy shit, jeeps, tanks, jets, helicopters, boats, and command centers, all small enough to be manned by these little guys? I was in heaven.
In 1984, Hasbro and Takara partnered to create the Transformers, and once again, I fell in love with the idea of robots that could turn into cars, trucks, jets, and more. Autonomous sentient beings from another world, Cybertron, fighting over Earth’s resources to further fuel their war, one that had been raging for millions of years between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. You may have heard of them, Michael Bay made some shitty movies about them. Many people prefer the cartoon versions over the movie versions.
1984 also introduced Voltron, both Lion Force and Vehicle Force versions. The Lion Force featured a team of space explorers that piloted 5 gigantic robot lions, which were incredible war machines in their own rights, that combined to form an even larger humanoid formed robot called Voltron. The vehicle force was composed of 15 different vehicles split into 3 squadrons, Land, Sea, and Air teams, and they all combined into their own large robot named Voltron as well. Each version had their own cartoon and after each cartoon had finished they even had a movie featuring both Voltrons together.
M.A.S.K., or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, emerged in 1985. This toy line was incredible, featuring figures and vehicles of a smaller scale than what the more popular toy lines such as G.I. Joe and the now dwindling Star Wars lines. The figures each had a helmet, or mask, that granted them an ability to use in combat situation. And the vehicles were very cool, how many of us out there wanted a large semi such as Rhino or a Camaro that could fly like Matt Trakker’s Thunderhawk? I know I did.
I enjoyed other short-lived yet cool franchises as well, such as Air Raiders, Inhumanoids, Centurions, Thundercats, Sectaurs, Battle Beasts, Wheeled Warriors, Bravestar, Super Powers, The Real Ghostbusters, Starcom, Dino Riders, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There are probably more I cannot think of right now.
Those are some of my all time favorite lines that I collected when I was a kid. And, as a kid, I did not take care of my things. Toys would get broken over time, rust from being played with in water, or corrode due to weather exposure, destroyed due to BB guns and firecrackers, set on fire, a lot of my toys met an untimely death. And then of course, you just were not cool if you played with toys anymore past a certain age, no, the girls wouldn’t want to date a boy, they wanted a guy who was macho. So, social pressures also influenced my collecting as well. So I did what most kids do when they reach the age of 12 or 13, I bid my toys farewell.
Then, something changed a few years later, in 1995. The Star Wars franchise was resurrected in toy form. Newly sculpted figures, new vehicles, reproductions of old vehicles, and new playsets. Wow. I loved my old Star Wars toys, and really, I missed them. So I took a trip to Toys R Us one day. I bought all the initial figures. I hunted high and low, rumors were out there about an Obi-Wan Kenobi variant figure, so I went everywhere, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, comic shops, anywhere that sold toys, I tracked it down. I became an adult collector.
A few years later, other lines would also see resurrections, G.I. Joe finally returned after years of being out of production. Transformers made a comeback. Other lines were new altogether, like the incredible Marvel Legends line. Some companies tried to bring back old properties, and failed, like the recent Bandai update of the Thundercats.
Ultimately, I collect toys because they bring me joy. The remind me of a simpler time in life. They are also fun to play with, my six year old daughter Madison loves to play with toys, and yes, she knows a lot of G.I. Joe and Transformers characters. And, to be fair, and to show that I am a cool dad, I also invest time to get to know characters from the properties she enjoys, like My Little Pony and Monster High. And, another yes, I will sit with her and play with her dolls with her.
Misty, Madison’s mother and my hetero-life mate, knew I was an avid toy collector when she met me. She accepted me as I am. So take that, society. I am living proof a toy nerd can have a family. Yes, I have a large collection and a room dedicated to my toys. However, I have not, nor will I, sacrifice my family’s comfort over my pleasure in collecting. I will not let a bill go unpaid because I was able to track down an exclusive Toys R Us edition of Masterpiece Soundwave, nor will I let my family go hungry because I would rather have the new 30th anniversary Voltron, Nor will I snag up every single figure in a line that I collect. I buy what appeals to me, I am not a completionist, and there are a lot of those out there. If I don’t like a toy for some reason, I am not going to buy it just because it belongs to a line. I buy it because I like it. And if I get something for myself, I get something for the family as well. I may have just spent $10 on a new Ultimate Cobra Commander figure, but I also got Misty and Madison something for each of them to enjoy as well.
So yes, collecting, it can be a headache. It can be heartbreaking. It can get expensive. It can be likened to a heroin addiction, at times, because there are times that you don’t want it but buy it anyway. But, it also can bring great joy, and it allows me as a father to bond with my daughter by playing with toys that I enjoyed as both a kid and as an adult. It allows us to watch cartoons that I grew up with and ones that she enjoys now as she is growing up. It allows Misty to enjoy the fact that we are happy as a family unit, and while she is the more practical of the two of us, she also likes to surprise us from time to time with something she found that she knows we are into. And, if toys can bring a family together a little more and allow us to spend quality time together, can that be a bad thing?
So there you have it, an explanation of why I collect toys. As part of Quiet Room Entertainment, I am going to showcase a different toy weekly in addition to an article in the entertainment realm. I have a very large collection to pull from, and will start next week with my first presentation from G.I. Joe.
I welcome your feedback. If you like The Collector’s Corner, please tell me. I want to hear from you. I am open to any and all suggestions. If you want me to research a certain toy, let me know. If you want something featured, let me know. If you hate it, let me know. I love toys, and I love our readers. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply.