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Points of Articulation

yo go re
Take it out and play with it

One of the most common reasons that MOC collectors give for not opening their figures is a derisive "Oh, I don't play with toys." Well, just allow me to say "Why the hell not?"

We've already taken a look at (and refuted) the ridiculous excuses that MOCers give for why their collections remain firmly entombed - space, value, etc. - so we won't go over that here. Suffice to say that while most of the reasons have at least some small grain of sense behind them, this one, "I don't play," just bespeaks of a certain arrogance.

Why the prejudice against play? Toys are intended to be played with - that's their purpose and that's their design. Has been since the time of ancient civilization. It's only recently that toys designed specifically not to play with have started to reach the market. Buying a toy you're not going to play with is just as stupid as buying a toaster and telling your friends, "Oh, I don't eat toast." Objects are designed for a purpose, so to ignore that is silly.

Perhaps this aversion to play is just a misunderstanding - a holdover from childish notions of what "playing" actually is. When I say you should play with your toys, I don't mean you should sit on the floor making whooshing noises and bashing them together. Well, okay, I do, but only sometimes. What I really mean is using your imagination to make your toys something other than a statue.

I know Poe often bemoaned the fate of today's children, given only specific character toys to play with - toys that gave the kids a story instead of allowing them to make up their own. But even with the most rigorously structured tie-ins, kids' imaginations will make the toys more than what was intended. Character allegiances will switch, GI Joe will ride into battle on Panthor and Spawn will fight Megatron.

Even though Megatron would totally kick his ass.

Our Figuretoons are an example of playing - we invent little stories and personalities for the figures and have them interact in new places. When Shocka sends Mrs. T-Rex over to the Muppet Kitchen to borrow a cup of sugar from McMummy's weekly cooking show, that's playing. Toys are about having fun, however that fun is had.

My DC Direct Superman figure is currently wearing a wrestling title belt. Why? Because he won the match, duh. He beat the previous title holders, the Useful Spawn tag-team - Spawn 10th and Halloween Spawn - who were the reigning co-champs for months (how they got the title is a strange story).

Marvel Select Wolverine now rides around in a little lunar module. He's the best there is at what he does, and what he does is drive go-karts. Bub. And there's Sampucu the Catgod, a Star Wars figure with a Realm of the Claw head on its shoulders.

Our readers who have been following toy news for a few years will remember the little controversy caused by Disney's Vine-Swingin' Tarzan - how he had to be pulled from shelves and repackaged because of his "Try Me" action feature. Yeah, you know the one.

Well, the 6" LotR Treebeard has a similar action feature, and it looks just as bad on him as it did on Tarzan. The big one, not so noticeable, but when you drop the scale down, it becomes really apparent. So here's what one reader did:

We started out with just Masturbating Treebeard - they'd lost the Entwives, after all. So he's walking around the coffee table waving his branch (or at least his twig and two berries). We decided that he was Homeless Masturbating Treebeard, the type of crazy you'd see hanging around the bus station. Then came the Barbie accessories - the apron turned him into Unemployed Masturbating Treebeard: he'd lost his job when the market crashed and now just did chores around the house. Then we added the sock, and he was back to Homeless Unemployed Masturbating Treebeard, who'd lost his house and was now living on the streets.

Putting the cat in his hand made him Crazy Homeless Unemployed Masturbating Treebeard, because he was going to skin the cat to make a second sock. For a while he was standing behind a little turntable, so he was a Crazy Homeless DJ, too - that was his plan to get his house back. The whole time we were just rolling laughing.

So see, that's playing. And it sounds pretty hilarious, too. No need for any other toys, no direct tie to the movie or the novel (other than the character's name), no making whooshing noises and no bashing things together. Well, nothing but Treebeard's hand and his pelvis, it sounds like.

So, you don't play with your toys? Why not? What's wrong with you? It's been said that although you have to grow up, you never have to grow old. May you all be young forever, and still find joy in the simplest things for years to come.

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