Poe's earlier blog about his top ten toys of all time got me thinkin', and I realized that if I were to compile a list of my top ten toys, most of them would probably only be a few years old. As a toy collector, I am and always have been interested in how toys can be better. I have little sentimentality or nostalgia. When Masters of the Universe relaunched, I had nostalgia for the concept, but I bought the toys for how cool they were sculpted.
As a child, I always wondered why my Star Wars toys couldn't be as articulated as my GI Joes... and it took until 2004 for Hasbro to catch up to my childhood thinking. And Hasbro makes Star Wars and GI Joe! Poe listed the old-school Boba Fett figure as one of his faves, and that's a prime example of my thinking. Maybe I was obsessive compulsive as a child, or just plain crazy, but I always realized that my Boba Fett figure wasn't quite like it was in the movie. His helmet was the wrong color, as were his gauntlets, and what's the deal with the big red missile? And so, with every subsequent Boba Fett version, we got a better toy, until the VOTC figure, which was just about as good as it gets (although who knows what the future holds?).
As such, I'm less complainy than most when toy companies like Hasbro are constantly updating their figures. Some people see a resculpted figure of a character they already own, and say "psh! no way I'm buying that, I already have it!" My parents would always say "don't you already have that guy?" and though I usually did, if the sculpt was all new and added up to a better figure, I still wanted it.
I'm one of those toy collectors that seems to be a rarity today... I never stopped collecting toys. It seems many outgrew the habit, then returned later in life. I never stopped. I think I would have outgrown them, because I was starting to want more out of my toys, until McFarlane upped the ante in the '90s by showing that toys were nowhere near where they could be in terms of sculpt.
That's really what I'm talking about. Why wasn't anybody sculpting good toys then? Many of the toys I call my current favorite are actually from McFarlane's heyday, when they cared about making good toys, not just sculptures... toys like the Poacher from Total Chaos, or the Mummy from McFarlane's Monsters.
As one who segued directly from childhood to adult collector, I have personally witnessed the legitimization of toys right before my eyes. Many people get back into collecting for nostalgia purposes. I think in that respect I'm something of an anomaly... nostalgia is, at best, minimal among my reasons for collecting. And so, I'm always imagining how my toys can be better, and I always have... unfortunately, it seems like only now most toys are catching up to what I imagined as a young boy.
Things like well-articulated Star Wars figures. A line of Gremlins figures. A single Cobra Commander figure with a hood and a helmet. Seriously, GI Joe has been around forever, and the interchangeable hood/helmet just came out, what, LAST YEAR??!
All this thinking makes me think I shoulda been a toy designer. Yet lack of ambition, motivation, plain old know-how and an abundance of downright laziness have rendered me little more than a trivia-nerd and a toy-lover. So here I stand before you, a reviewer in his spare time who gets paid a pittance to teach art to the mentally ill. I tell ya, I coulda been a contendah.