Page not found | Raving Toy Maniac

Page not found

The requested page could not be found.

John's Action Figure Column 9/26/96


     Two action figures walk into a specialty shop.  The place is
called "Capes, Cloaks and Cowls by Sol," and the proprietor is a
portly older gentleman with puffy red cheeks and a jovial twinkle
in his blue-green eyes.  His voice is soft and avuncular with
just a trace of an eastern european accent.  "Hello dere, folks! 
Can I help you today?"
     The male figure, tall, good looking in a blue body suit,
speaks first.  "Yes, we're, uh, looking for some capes."  He
turns to his companion, a stunning young woman with flame-red
hair (of an odd, translucent quality) and a bright green jumpsuit
with yellow boots and gloves.  She smiles at him without
speaking, and he continues.
     "Y'see, uh, well, it's like this..."  His voice trails off
and he turns again to the woman.  She smiles indulgently but does
not say anything.
     The proprietor steps in.  "Lemmee guess boychick: you've
never worn a cape before, your mentor didn't think much of 'em,
but now you're on your own, and you're thinking you'd like a
piece of dat mainstream hero action, am I right?"
     The male figure's jaw drops open.  He shoots a look at the
lady, who smiles sweetly and finally speaks.  "Don't look at me,
honey.  I didn't do a thing.  This man just knows his business." 
And she tosses her long red hair out of her eyes with a shrug
that sets the rest of her carriage in delightful motion.  Given
the thin, clingy nature of her costume, its progression through
her frame is manifest, and captivating.
     The owner is obviously not too old to appreciate this
display, and though he does his best to pretend not to notice, it
is several seconds before he resumes his patter.
     "Ahem.  Oy.  Yes, right right right, no problem, no trouble,
you've come to the right place, yes indeedy!  First capes are my
specialty, no doubt about it, yes yes yes.  I've done 'em all,
from that meshuginah Bat-guy (Oy, a grouch, but one helluva big
tipper) to that big Norwegian schtarker with the hammer and the
overactive vocal chords (he talks like some fancy schmancy actor
type but a customer's a customer, that's what I'm always telling
Bernie, and he paid in solid gold, so I say 'thee go, big
fella!'), and I've never had an unsatisfied customer.  Oh, well,
there was some problem with that Nomad fella some years, back,
putz didn't even know enough to keep his feet out of his cape,
pardon my french, ma'am, and I _told_ him not to pull out the
hem, yes I did, but some people just think they know everything
about everything, oy gevalt, and -- "
     "Excuse me, sir, but we are in a bit of a hurry."  The
redhead smiles that dazzling smile again and stops the man's
verbal wanderings with a light touch on his arm.  He seems
delighted by the contact and nods furiously.
     "Yes, yes, yes, oy, of course, listen to the old fool, you
nice kids probably have to save the whole furshlugginer universe
or something, and before lunch, too.  Say," he adds, "are you
hungry?  Can I get you some coffee, cake, a piece fruit -- "
     "No, really, sir, we've got a 10:15 menace from the Savage
Land, then lunch with our agent, and then a matinee of Cats
that's going to be interrupted by a party of disgruntled Skrulls
that had too much to drink at the Russian Tea Room -- "
     "Oy, you don't have to tell me, I've been saying for years
that drinking and conquering don't mix, but does anybody listen
to an old man?  No."
     The woman speaks again.  "So if we could just look at the
     "Yes, yes, of course, no problem.  Please, come right this
     And he leads them both toward the back of the store, where a
pair of cape racks stand.

     He stops and eyes the two customers as if appraising
something.  He moves to the first rack, which is full of large,
stiff capes of dull aspect.  The rack plainly sags under their
weight.  He starts to reach for one when the woman stops him. 
"Listen, sir, with all due respect, we don't want any _plastic_
capes.  They just look...stupid.  We want cloth capes -- your
finest."  And she smiles at the young man, who takes her hand and
smiles back encouragingly.
     "Of course, girlchick, of course.  Why, I was just moving
these out of the way...cloth it is!"  And he moves on to a rack
of fine capes of all colors, lengths and textures that stands
nearby beneath a few well-placed spotlights.  "You know, you
can't get good cloth capes like these anymore.  No sirree, no. 
Pfah.  All those new chain stores, they got nothing but *crap*. 
'The Capery.'  'Cowls 'R' Us.'  Crap, I tell you, crap.  But
they're so big, oy, the discounts they get, strangling the
market, I tell ya, strangling..."
     All the while he is thumbing through the rack, snapping his
head back every second or two to take in their costumes as he
continues his patter.  "Let's see, bubbie, for you, I think
something short and simple, waist length, something in a bright
yellow, pick up that nice, ah, costume of yours," he lets his
glance linger on her again, then continues, "mmmm, you going to
keep the gloves, yes?  Thought so, yes I did, yes..."
     And with a flourish of satisfaction, he pulls out a yellow
cape on a gold chain.  He brushes a little dust from the
shoulders, and a rich sheen begins to shine forth.  "Heh heh,
sorry about the dust, s'been a while since DC ordered new capes,
ya know no one else likes primary colors these days, oy, but this
is a beaut, yes it is, just perfect for you."
     He holds the hanger out for her to take, but instead of
taking it the cape just lifts itself off the wire and floats
across the room, to settle perfectly around her shoulders.
     The owner rolls his eyes at the ceiling, muttering something
about "meshuginah super-powered showoffs," but manages to keep a
smile fixed on his face.  "Yes, that's a beaut, all right,
bubbelah, looks just darling on you."  She crinkles her nose at
the praise and looks off toward the nearest mirror.
     "Now fer you, boychick, let's see.  Blue and yellow, blue
and yellow...quite frankly, yer costume's kinda drab.  Now I'm
not criticizing, far be it for me, I just think you might pep
things up a bit, you know, add a little flash, a little color,
you know what I mean?"  He smiles hopefully at the young man, who
     "Well, you know more about this than I do, but I'm really
not a very flashy guy..."
     "Nonsense!  Clothes make the man, yes they do, yes.  My
brother-in-law Irving, a pisher like you wouldn't believe, such
crazy ideas, wanted to turn this place into some kind of sex
clothes palace, what my sister was thinking I don't know... anyway, he's
nothing, thinks he's such a big macher, but people _treat_ him
with respect because he throws away a thousand dollars on an
Armani suit... anyway, let's see..." and he disappears into the
thick of the rack, emerging a few seconds later with a cry of

     "Aha!  Here's something to try...lotsa red, yes, but there's
some yellow in that trim, should look okay on you...go ahead,
throw it on..."  The old man holds the cape out hesitantly, as if
waiting for it to float away like the first one, but the young
man just reaches out and takes it, fastening it awkwardly around
his neck.  A burst of laughter comes from over by the mirrors.
     "Oh, Scott, no, that's just ridiculous."
     The man does look a bit ridiculous.  The cape is huge, with
an extremely high stylized collar that curls up around the sides
of his face, and is so long that the edges trail their yellow and
black pattern onto the floor, making him look like a little boy
lost in an adult's clothes...
     ...until suddenly the edges _aren't_ trailing anymore.  In
fact, the man has begun to rise up into the air of the shop.  The
cape now looks great, but the man looks a bit panicked, and
starts waving his arms and kicking his legs like he's swimming in
     "H-Honey, is this any of your --"
     "No, Scott, it's not me."  She can barely speak for her
     The proprietor, red-faced, stammers out an apology as
realization dawns on his face.  "Oh my, oh my, wrong cape, I'm so
sorry, oy, wait until I get my hands on Bernard."  He turns
toward the back of the store and bellows.  "Bernard!  Bernard! 
Get out here, you good for nothing schlemiel," and then he turns
back to his customers, "my assistant is new, mixes up the stock
all the time, why I hired him at all I don't know, he's that putz
Irving's kid, what was I, let me take that --"   
And he reaches forward and yanks the cape off the man's
     ...such that the man immediately falls from his suspended
height to the floor of the shop.  He lands with expertise, but
his pride is somewhat wounded.  He glares at the owner as he
dusts himself off.
     Or at least it looks like a glare; his expression is hard to
make out through the thick red lenses of his sunglasses.  The
owner is about to apologize more when the woman steps forward and
calms the young man with a touch on his arm.  "It's okay, Scott,
really, it was kind of funny.  But I think that cape is out."
     This is literally true, because in his eagerness to mollify
the man the owner let go of the cape, which has sailed up to and
out of the store's skylight above them.
     The owner shakes his head sadly.  "S'alright, s'alright,
happens once or twice a month.  It always lands nearby...Bernie! 
Bernie!  You gotta go get #41 from the alley..."
     A high-pitched voice rings out from the back.  "Now?!?"
     "Yes, now, you schnook!  What, am I paying you to read comic
books in the bathroom?!?"
     "Alright, Uncle Solly, I'm going...."
     The proprietor takes a deep breath, rolls his eyes and
mutters something about "machetunim" and examines his customers
again.  The man doesn't look upset, so Sol smiles as he plunges
back into the rack and comes out with another cape.  Like the
first, it is bright red, only this time there is no trim.
     "Now *here's* a cape for you, lovely, just lovely, simple,
elegant, a vinner.  Brand-new, never been worn.  Look at that
craftsmanship, one-of-a-kind.  Go ahead, bubbie, try it on!"
     The man takes the cape and throws it around his shoulders. 
It settles around him softly and he stands tall, throwing out his
chest and examining himself in the mirror.  "Not bad, not bad at
all, old man.  I kind of like it!"
     "Scott...Scott..."  The woman has stepped behind him and is
frowning at the cape.  She pulls it around for him to see.  There
is a large "S" in an insignia on the back.  They frown at each
other, then glare at the owner.
     Sol grins apologetically around an embarrassed flush.  "Uh,
well, um, uh, it's an 'S,' yes, but, I thought since his name was
'Scott' it'd be okay, you know, 'S' for 'Scott,' no?"  The two
customers are frowning and shaking their heads.  Sol is
backpedalling like a Tour de France champion.  " it isn't
_brand_ new, so, but it's still never been worn; the guy ordered
it and then never came by to pick it up.  I billed him anyway,
post office says they never heard of a 'Metropolis,' what kind of
cockammie city name is that, I ask you, eh?  World's going to
hell in a handbasket, you mark my words."  He takes a deep
breath, lets out a sigh.  "Tell you what, I'll give you such a
discount...."  The frowns on the young couple's faces remain.
     "All right, all right, gimme the cape, I'll find something
else, I promise."  He disappears again into the rack.

     The two young customers start looking around the store. 
"Jean, maybe this wasn't such a good idea, you know?  I mean,
capes are for the big guys, you know, folks with their own books,
you know?"
     "Oh, Scott, don't be silly.  You've got as much a right to a
cape as the next mutant.  Why, even more ri -- hey!  Look at
this!"  And the woman stops at a rack of overcoats.  "Scott, look
at this -- Burberry, London Fog, Brooks Brothers, why these are
     "Scott" frowns as he examines the coats.  "Oh, Jean, look at
them -- they're plastic, all of them!  Why that one looks like
it's made of colorforms!  And that one there is actually
laminated!  No, these won't do at all...he'd just make fun of
     "Oh, Scott, it's not a competition.  And Remy's coat is
plastic, too -- why, it's even got that silly slit up the back
for some odd reason."
     "No, Jean, no.  I know I used to borrow the Professor's coat
sometimes," at the mention of this title both their faces fall
for a moment, though the man continues on.  "But it never quite
fit and frankly I don't think a trenchcoat is my style.  In
fact -- "
     At that moment Sol emerges from the back of the store
holding a shimmering, iridescent blue cape.  It is stunning, and
he hands it to the young man, who takes it without uttering a
word, sliding it on with sudden enthusiasm.  It settles on his
shoulders as if it has always been there, fitting perfectly
against his tall but slim frame.
     The lady speaks.  "Wow, Scott -- you look...good.  Very
good.  Mmmmmm...." And her eyes flash him a wicked grin.
     "You don't look so bad, yourself, lady -- something between
a cocktail waitress and princess of some long ago galaxy far
away!"  She spins quickly, preening for his delectation.
     The proprietor stands back, happy with a job ostensibly
well-done.  Now he only needs to move them along to the register
and conclude the transaction, and everybody will be happy.
     Or is that *too* happy?  As he watches, the young couple
feast upon each other with their eyes, the simple hunger in their
souls evident for anyone to see.  As the meal progresses they
move together, the man's cape billowing out to surround them as
they merge into a tight embrace.  It is Sol's imagination or is
it getting warmer in his shop?  Hey, he thinks, pay for the capes
and get a _room_, okay?  But of course he is a professional, and
conducts himself appropriately, even when his customers do not.
     "Uh, sir, madame, you sure seem to like those capes, if
that'll be all....?"  He lets his voice trail off, hopefully in
the general direction of the cash register in front.
     The woman pulls her head out of the embrace and looks back
at him.  He hears the man murmur something to her that sounds
like "Emma," and then she speaks to Sol.  "Do you, um, sell
clothing besides capes and cowls?"
     "What do you mean, bubbie?"
     "Um, you know, specialty items.  Like corsets? 
Merry widows, teddies, stuff like that?"
     Oy, Sol thinks, if I'd listened to Irving and his
farblondjet ideas two years ago, I'd be rich now, rich.  He sighs
again, heavily.  "No, I don't Miss.  I'm a cape man from the year
one."  Another big sigh.  "Try Wicked Wanda's Secret, five doors
down on the left."
     And with that he walks to the register, shaking his head the
whole way, and begins to ring up the purchase.  Wanda's indeed,
he thinks, I knew her when she was Sadie's Boots and Belts, but
no, *she* listens to Irving, and now a limo she takes to work
every day, oy....  At this point, the old man is at the cash
register, and reaches to ring up the couple's purchases.
     However, before he can do so, there is a strange dark glow
around the edges of the young man's blue cape, and just as the
owner begins to notice that it isn't really a cape so much as a
cloak, its hood lost in the back against the myriad folds in the
material, it is too late:  the young man and the young woman move
sideways into a sudden fold in reality, and then are gone.
     The old man winces, then furrows his brow in sudden fury. 
He shouts toward the back of the store, "Bernie!  Ber-nie!!!  How
many times have I told you to keep the regular capes *separate*
from the mystical capes?!?"  He looks up at the skylight as if
seeking assistance.  "What did I ever do to you, I'm asking?  Oy,
one of these days I'm gonna kill that kid...."
     He's still shaking his head as the bell by the front door
tinkles and a very large figure comes in.  Well, Sol thinks to
himself, the day can only go up from here....
     "Can I help you?"
     "Yes.  Hulk have no money, but Hulk wants hero cape, and
Hulk wants cape NOW!"  The jade behemoth pauses for an instant,
then continues, leaning menacingly over the front counter and
smiles an incongruous grin down at Sol.  "And nothing too
sissy....Hulk have big date tonight."
     Gevalt, Sol thinks to himself, I shoulda stayed in the
furniture business like Irving said.
     "Of course, big fella, I got the perfect thing for you, just
take it easy and wait right here, I'll be right back."  And Sol
dashes back to the racks, hoping against hope that Bernie has
returned with that strange cape from the alley....
Copyright (c) 1996 by John Gersten. All rights reserved.

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