[Editor’s Note: Courtney Enlow is currently holding up a boom box playing “In Your Eyes” outside of John Cusack’s house, so today we bring you a special guest blog post by Rich Lovatt of Comic By Comic.]
I was walking to work this morning and, being without my iPod for some reason, overheard the following conversation between a boy of about eight years and the lady walking him to school – who I assume was either his mother, grandmother or nanny.
Him: “I want the Emperor, Han Solo and Chewbacca.”
Him: “But I really need the Emperor.”
Her: “Isn’t it more important that you’re playing the game rather than what dolls you have?”
Him: [horrified] “They’re not dolls.”
Unfortunately at that point the people behind me headed in a different direction, but I’m pretty sure that the rest of the conversation involved a detailed description of the many, many differences between action figures and dolls, and how dolls were clearly for girls but action figures were obviously for boys.
I remember similar conversations when I was little around Star Wars toys specifically. Sure, I had a Hulk toy somewhere and maybe a Spider-Man toy, but it was the Star Wars ones which I collected almost religiously, playing with them every day.
I still remember when I was six years old and I was lying on the couch, under a blanket and off school. My dad came home and produced a Star Wars figure I’d never seen before: Han Solo in some kind of parka. On the picture on the card, he was riding some kind of weird horse that looked like nothing I’d ever seen, and the logo …
… the logo, with the original Star Wars logo wrapped around it, read The Empire Strikes Back.
It turned out that the figure was from the new movie that hadn’t been released yet. At that point, in the days before VCRs and TV showing movies a year after they’re released, I hadn’t even seen Star Wars, but I had a hardback annual reprinting the comics adaptation of the movie.
I actually think that this may have been the very first figure I got, but my memory is hazy on the point.
In any case, that Han Solo figure, and the fact that my dad had given it to me when I was sick, really paved the way for what – to his eternal confusion – became pretty much a lifelong habit.
The thing is, I think that I knew in my heart that my mum had picked the toy up and passed it to him to give to me as he came home. I knew somehow that with the hours he worked he didn’t really have time to stop in and pick something up for me, but that was on a subconscious level.
It wouldn’t really have mattered anyway. I loved that figure – and my dad – for opening the promise of a new adventure with these characters that I’d read about.
And to this day, I find myself explaining to him and my mum that they’re not dolls.
They’re action figures.
Rich Lovatt runs a daily blog, Comic By Comic that, in spite of the name, also does stuff with TV and film. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.