Page not found | Raving Toy Maniac

Page not found

The requested page could not be found.

John's Action Figure Column 3/7/96

     You've sought a particular toy for what seems like months. 
Other people you know have been stumbling through aisles filled
knee-deep with the damned things, and you can't find one
anywhere.  You know what I'm talking about.  You've looked high
and low, cruised the same stores over and over until they blur in
the mind like one garish, loud, carnival of cranky kids and
littered aisles.  You've spent so much time in TRUs you know the
whole tape sequence of their Muzak.  You know what's on the
bottom of the Kaybee sale bins without even looking, and you know
the stock at Target better than the clerks.
     The rest of your life can begin to take on an unreal
quality.  Food, work, clothing, even sex -- they all begin to
pale against the looming spectre of the truly big score, the
final nigh-unreachable accomplishment:  getting an MOC release of
FIGURE X in your hot little hands.
     Now, FIGURE X can be *anything*.  It's any figure you long
for, dream of having on the shelf above your computer, or beside
your bed, staring down at you as you drift off into work, or
slumber....  Often, many of us share the same longing for a
particular FIGURE X (thanks, as due, to McFarlane Toys and the
marketing geniuses in the 1,701 Department at Playmates).  Heck,
the figure need not even be hard-to-find, or a shortpack --
though all-too-frequently, it is both of those things.  But
whatever the figure may be, its imagined apparition fills our
hopes and daydream fantasies.

     Most recently, for me, the Holy Grail of recent figures has
been McFarlane Toys "Cy-Gor."  Perhaps you've read me mention
this figure....
     In any event, searching for the Cy-Gor had me at my wit's
end.  I was a wreck.  Calling local stores daily, racing
throughout my local area, desperate (a) to find the big bad
monkey, and (b) to do so one step ahead of the hordes of other
folks, well-intentioned and not, all seeking the same thing.
     Friends, I'll confess:  it got ugly.  I found myself biting
my nails, losing sleep, getting short with store employees
(though often for good reason), eyeing fellow shoppers with a
tense, narrowed gaze, always assuming the worst ("Hmmm, that
little old lady looks like a DEALER!").
     And it got me nowhere.  For a while, the new figures just
weren't coming in hereabouts.  And then, once they finally did, I
spent more afternoons than I'm comfortable mentioning standing
around TRUs, shifting my weight from one foot to the other and
back again for 45 minutes at a time against the hushed rumor that
     Work no longer seemed to matter.  Neither did eating, or my
relationship, my family, not even the Marvel Universe cartoons on
Sunday mornings.  And finally, the [email protected] hit the
proverbial Skippy-the-Robot-Dog's-propeller.  I spent a
particularly disappointing and infuriating evening at TRU,
watching an unsavory group of gentlemen (the term could not be
used more loosely) huddle around the customer service desk until
a clerk appeared with four or five cases of toys and then
disappeared in a frenzy of moving limbs, flying cardboard, and
shredded tissue paper... when the dust settled, all that remained
were five half-empty cases filled with She-Spawns, Clown IIs and
Shadowhawks.  The dealers, or so I took them to be, moved as a
single snuffling, sickly giggling creature (imagine one immense
Thrakkorzog, its tentacles and evil tongue filled with toy boxes)
towards the register, followed by two TRU employees (also
carrying toy boxes).  Of the original hapless clerk there was no
sign... just a pair of empty sneakers and a congealing pool of
ruddy liquid....
     Remaining on the periphery was a group of kids and
collectors, pacing and fretting like bystanders in the waiting
room of a maternity ward.  Except with an inner circle like the
one they just witnessed, it was more like waiting for the birth
of Rosemary's Baby....
     Who can compete with this kind of malevolence?  It isn't
about getting up early, or staying up late, or being pure of
heart or even full-of-wallet.  It's about secret understandings,
cellular phones and opportunistic cabals, and a turning of the
milk of human kindness into a sour yogurt of profit lines and
artificial scarcities.
     Anyway, that night I dreamed of the Cy-Gor, of dozens of
them, cavorting and howling as apes do, mocking and jeering my
futile efforts to cage one of their own.  And the next morning I
looked into the bathroom mirror and realized what was going on:
     I had become a junky... a Monkey-Junky.

     Did this stop me?  This soulful revelation in the dawn's
early light?  This growing awareness that I was losing the best
of my life to a search of Sisyphean proportions?
     Nope.  As recounted last week, I climbed right back up into
the saddle and resumed my simian safari.
     And a few days later, at a *different* TRU (I don't know if
I'll be going back to the other one any time soon; it's not as if
I think a one-person boycott will do much, it's just that I get a
really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I think of
that place), I did get lucky.  After politely asking one employee
to "check the back" for me and having him return, saying there
was nothing at all, I listened to my intuition and returned after
a half hour perusing the wares at a nearby Gap.  (Well, maybe it
was more than just intuition -- there were two Clown IIs and a
Shadowhawk on the pegs -- enough to show the Spawn Ultra IIIs had
arrived, too few given the time of my last visit to reflect the
opening of a full shipment of cases).
     Sure enough, success.  A different (and *much* nicer) TRU
clerk was unpacking five Spawn Ultra III cases.  My heart racing,
hands trembling, I fumbled through the racks.
     "Looking for a Cy-Gor?"  The clerk had stopped racking She-
Spawns and was looking at me.
     "Uh, yeah...."
     "Thought you might be.  They're all gone."  He was a young
redheaded fellow, and did not seem at all to be mocking or
     "Oh.  Well," I said, putting up my best smile and trying not
to sound too disappointed, "I did get *really* close this
     He looked at me for a second, and then smiled broadly. 
"Look, I've got three more cases in the back.  I'm not supposed
to put them out, but... just hang on."  He slipped down his
ladder and walked quickly to the stockroom.  In his wake, my
heart began beating so loudly I heard someone in the next aisle
say, "Hey, I didn't know they had disco music on the store
     I didn't care.  I just tried to look calm as I stood there
in a panic.  Why panic?  Because I'm crazy.  Even as this kind
fellow was making every effort to get me what I wanted, I found
room to wallow in pessimism.  They're not going to really be
there.  Those Thrakkorzog guys in cheap rumpled suits joined at
the hip will have infiltrated the back room.  Or the cases will
have been cleaned out by employees....
     "Sir?  Excuse me...."  Startled, I focused my eyes away from
the seemingly endless racks of old Youngblood figures and looked
at the smiling face of the clerk before me.  He was holding a
Spawn Ultra III case, inviting me to open it.

     Forget disco -- who knew they had a heavenly choir on the
TRU Muzak loop?  I swear I heard all the angels singing as I
pried up the cardboard, picking carefully through the top layers
of Clowns and She-Spawns, gently lifting out figures and tissue
paper on my way down, down to the bottom of the box.  Where,
nestled in amidst more tissue paper and Maxxes, lay... a Cy-Gor.
     Now, I'm trying to straddle a fine line here.  I really
don't mean to brag.  And I'm really not trying to sound all high
and mighty, like, look at me, the Superior Toy Hunter
Extraordinaire.  Not at all.
     On the other hand, I *did* feel a sense of triumph.  I had
done it:  After all my questing, all my disappointments, here was
a Cy-Gor, right in my hands.  And though I hate to give any fuel
to the scalpers, I must admit, it was one gorgeous figure.  At
least to my eyes.
     I thanked the clerk profusely.  He grinned.  "I'm really
happy to have been able to make someone this happy.  Enjoy it." 
I did.  And I do.  I felt...great.  Hugely happy.  Satisfied. 
Exalted.  My feet touched the ground at least twice on my way to
the cashier.
     Okay, okay.  So it's kind of stupid to let a painted lump of
plastic mean so much.  But hell, this is the hobby I've chosen,
conditioned by a youth spent reading every Marvel and DC Comic I
could get my hands on.  I *love* staring at these things on my
shelves, I love talking about them, posing them, op-posing them,
and while I really hate hunting for them in vain, I do get quite
a rush of joy when I find them.
     And my sharing my triumph with everyone is not about one-
upping a single soul (well, maybe those of the dealers/scalpers). 
It's just about feeling that all the frustration and searching is
occasionally worth it, and also a desire to communicate that, in
this world that Todd and the 1,701 crew and the scalpers have
made, WE CAN WIN!  We *can* find the shortpacks, at least some of
the time.  Yes, it stinks that this is how it is, and may well
lead eventually to even the hardiest of us abandoning the pursuit
for something a lot less anxiety-making, and easier -- like
professional boxing, or defusing terrorist bombs.  But when ya
hit it....mmmm-mmmm, sweet.
     It is a valid question, whether 'tis noblest to suffer the
slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune in being shut-out --
and feel justified in sharing such stories -- but upon achieving
longed-for success in the hunt to Keep Thy Mouth Shut.  Or
whether it's also okay to come back from the victory and want to
tell your friends hey, a lot of days I get stiffed, but today --
today I scored a big one....
     I prefer to think that we can share our triumphs as well as
our mini-tragedies.  Oh, I'm no saint -- there have been times
where I've read tales of others' finds with something less than
the soul of charity.  But a few moments later, when my selfish
disappointment recedes a bit, I am gratified to see that some of
my toy-loving comrades' efforts have paid off, that they've
gotten what they long for and love.
     It ain't a religion, but it does have its satisfactions.

     Then again, there are revelations of all kinds out there
waiting for us.
     I have this friend, a fellow collector.  We'll call him
"Jack."  (His real name is Jeff Lawrence, but if we just call him
Jack his mom won't ever figure out that he spends all his time
and money collecting toys, and she'll be happy, and he'll be
happy).  Jack is a metropolitan policeman with a difference...
no, that's not right.  Jack is a friend, a wonderfully funny
fellow, a movie critic and occasional office worker (when the
glamour of filmdom gets to him).  And, most important for our
current purposes, Jack is a Spawn collector.  And, on the heels
of my telling him my story of my agonizing disappointments and
eventual, transcendent triumph and joy, he told me a story of
another sort of toy-related apotheosis.
     Okay, here's the scene.  Jack has some luck of his own,
scoring some new Spawn Ultra III figures in the last couple of
days.  But the shelves are getting a little crowded at Chez Jack,
so he has to start moving some of his existing figures.  And one
of those moves involves taking some of the older Spawn figs,
taking them from the bookshelves and putting them on the shelf
behind his bed, right beneath his east window.  So far, so good.
     Now add in a particular hellacious day at work, and a late
evening of active compensation at a local watering hole.  Jack
tumbles home with visions of Cy-Gor Sugarplums dancing in his
head (not recommended for the faint of heart, by the way), a long
and meaningful sleep the only thing on his besotted, er, I mean
beleaguered mind.
     And sleep he does -- soundly, safely, and restfully.  Oh,
there may be a momentary interruption or two during which time he
half-consciously rises to drag a glass of water back from the
bathroom, but basically the night ends with lots of snores,
turnovers, and rapid eye movements.  And, since Jack doesn't work
until noon, he can continue his sybaritic slumber until well into
the morning.
     Is it a random noise that awakens him?  A truck's backfire,
the howling of a restive cat?  It doesn't really matter.  What
does matter is that Jack awakens, a bit groggily, to see a
rainbow spread before him over the white blanket atop his chest. 
What's this, he wonders.  And turns to seek its source.
     And is transfixed by a vision.  Because right before his
eyes, bathed in a luminous halo of coruscating light shards, is
the figure of an Angel.  Staring right down at him from above.
     Now, Jack says he was nearly blind from the outpouring of
light.  And in the center of it all, a profusion of beams
glinting off her helmet and armor, Jack can just make out...
Cosmic Angela.
     See, what Jack doesn't realize yet is that, at the end of
one of his sleepwalks to get water, he placed the still nearly
full glass on the shelf behind his pillow -- right between the
Angela figure and the incoming rays of the now-risen sun.  And,
in his slow awakening, as his fevered brow returns to usual
consciousness, he spends several long minutes dazzled by the
flashes and glimmers, wondering just what this little figure has
on its annunciative, polymerized mind.
     He concluded by noting that, in the first few moments, when
the Angela was shrouded by a cloak of brilliant light nearly more
than the human eye could bear and he wasn't sure just what was
going on, he was terrified that a voice would ring out, saying
     Thankfully, the world righted itself and Jack figured out
that the only revelation was that it was a bad idea to leave
water positioned such that it might intensify an otherwise
pedestrian hangover to Wagnerian proportions.
     Imagine if he'd left a Malebolgia on the shelf....
Copyright (c) 1996 by John Gersten. All rights reserved.

Comments? Drop me a line....
Return to John's Action Figure Column Home Page