Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many interviews with fellow collectors!
MisterBigBo, who comments here occasionally, is a real-life friend of mine who I’ve actually spent time with in person. He’s taken time out of his busy schedule as a brand-new dad to answer a few questions about his toy collecting.
Base of Operations: The Commiewealth of Taxachusetts
History: Regular ‘ole suburban lower middle class kid who grew up in the 80s. Star Wars fan first, but like most boys of that generation I had a healthy action figure collection. I have gone on to become a teacher, a dad, and study traditional Japanese martial arts, but the toys are still there.
1.) What were your favorite toys or toy lines as a child?
Though I started with Star Wars, moved with the trends to Transformers and He-Man for a while, GI Joe was my favorite. The designs and the articulation caused me to stay with the line into junior high, after most of my friends had moved on. As a youngster I had a little of everything: a few M.A.S.K. vehicles, and one or two Sky Commanders, Army Antz, Silver Hawks, C.O.P.S., Centurins, Marvel Secret Wars and D.C. Super Powers, Captain Power, Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos, Battle Beasts, Starcom, Eagle Force. . . those are the faves that I can remember right now . I suppose my tendency these days to collect only one or a few of any given line is a continuation of that trend.
2.) What sort of action figures and memorabilia do you collect now, and why?
Currently the only things I regularly collect are Minimates. I love how they represent many of the pop culture properties I am a fan of: Street Fighter, Marvel, Lord of the Rings, 24, Ghostbusters, Battlestar Gallactica. Otherwise, I bounce around from line to line cherry picking items I really like. What motivates me most in collecting are design and nostalgia. I collected no toys from middle school until into my very late 20s. However, the stresses of adult life, of graduate work, a career, a mortgage, and a family drove me to the those things that brought me the most comfort from the most comfortable time in my life.
3.) What draws you most to an action figure or toy–the license, the sculpting, the articulation? On a related note, what is most likely to prevent you from buying something–price, quality, etc.?
Either nostalgia for the license or great design attract me these days, and a combination of the two can’t be beat. The MOTUC are fantastic in those regards and the NECA TMNT Leonardo I opened is the best action figure I have ever owned, hands down. For sheer design elements and art style I find the Minimates and Mighty Muggs really compelling, and wish the work Hasbro has done on their 3.75” lines had come around 25 years ago!
I mostly collect MOC these days, and even as a kid I liked the pleasure-delaying aspect of hanging onto an unopened Joe for a couple hours. Something about opening the toy, ruining the pristine perfection of what I have always felt was a mini piece of art, always bugged me. Maybe the lined up boxes and blister cards remind me of Child World.
The only things that keep me from collecting too many toys are price and space. You and I have spoken often about the costs of toys and that unavoidable and worsening reality; I guess all I need are my aunts and uncles return to buying me toys like they did when I was small!
4.) What’s your most prized item in your collection?
I am also a big Star Wars fan, and love my small lightsaber collection. My most prized collectible is my Darth Maul double saber I got signed by Ray Park, but the few vintage MOC Joes I have are a very close second.
5.) You and your lovely wife recently had your first child. How has that affected your view of your hobby, if at all? Do you look forward to sharing it with him in the future?
I found Richard Jackson Harris’ A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication, wherein he posits that I played with action figures because I was too heavily influenced by cartoons-as-commercials and that my imagination was retarded because those shows restricted how I would play. Oh, and they made me violent. I can accept the first part, and will work hard to make sure my little boy isn’t oversold. At least I will try. But the part about me only playing the way the show characters did is such a load of crap. I vividly remember how I played with my figures, and how my imagination worked (and still does) and the toys were a vehicle for the adventures I constructed. These toys were not a substitute for playing outside, but another avenue. I have no memory of pigeon-holing my toys into their tv personas, and so I’m not too worried about my boy. I think it will be a good outlet for his imagination, and I have been setting aside some toys for him to play with. Now, playing with toy guns or first person shooter video games is another story. . .