Wednesday, April 18, 2012

G.I. Joe Month: Conclusion

I initially did this full month of G.I. Joe related articles because my collection returned from the museum. In the process of storing them away, I took hundreds of pictures of them, and wanted to share both pictures and stories. But I also found my self playing with the toys. Not necessarily in the way I did when I was a kid. I wasn't lining them up and "playing war" with dialogues and action sounds. It was more looking closely at them, noticing new details, contemplating about paint and sculpt. I posed them in their vehicles, put on their accessories. I talked with fellow collectors about it.

In essence, it was playing with toys.
And it made me realize that these were - and continue to be - amazing toys.

I'll end the G.I. Joe month not with pictures, but with a story. I have many stories of experiences as a kid, and almost anything I write can be considered stories of how it's like to be an adult collecting these toys. This story is neither: It's the story of how I got back into collecting G.I. Joe.

This was when I was in high school. during my years in junior high, I had abandoned any ideas of collecting toys. Willingly? Not really. I had just stored away all my toys. It was just socially impossible to be interested in toys as fourteen year old boy. Some will say it's similar as an adult, but I'm fairly confident in my self. I know what I like, I have some extremely weird interests, but they are my interests. They are a part of me, of who I am. And collecting toys is one of the greatest things I know of. I am glad it's not my only interest, nor is it the only thing I collect.
But I am proud to be interested in toys. And it didn't really start at childhood - I was just being careful with any toy I was given. It started when I finally left junior high, and could start being myself. You see, where you would commit social suicide by admitting to such childish things in junior high, no one cared in high school. It was ok to be different, and in my school it was actually expected of you.

Not far from my high school was a store that sold used comic books. At this point, I was reading all the cool stuff that came out on Image. Then there came a day, we had a no scheduled class, so me and a friend decided to head over to the store and look for comics. I wouldn't say I was a regular, but I had been to this store quite a few times, and knew what to expect. They had the usual selection of locally produced comics, translated international comics and the occasional US/UK release. I wasn't expecting anything else this day.

"What's this? Where does this come from? Are there more?" I asked the lady in the store, as I had gone through a few comics. I had noticed something I didn't expect to find, and I can safely say that I panicked. It wasn't fear, it was more urgency, feelings I couldn't really describe.

Hidden under a few irrelevant comics was G.I. Joe #1 - US release. From 1982. Dead mint.

And #2, #3, #4, #5, and so on.

Relevant to the story is this. G.I. Joe didn't arrive in my country until mid 80s, when the line - both toys, comics and cartoon - had already been going with full strength in the country where it originated. The comics I had read (under the name Action Force) were only part of the entire story.  We got to read the story from US #44-90, so any stories before that was virtually unknown to me. But I knew of them. I knew I was missing something.

And now I suddenly found these comics. Every single one of them.

What had happened: a person - obviously one who subscribed to these comics (as well as certain superhero comics) had stopped caring, and turned them into the store for... I don't know, store credit? A small amount of cash? Definitely not worth it.
I was rambling at this point to my friend, and to the lady in the store. I bought every issue I could afford, and told her to hold on to the rest for me. I came back every day for the next week, picking up 5-10 issues at the time, and I would sit home reading the beginnings of G.I. Joe. I have mentioned how good these comics are in many previous articles, including the very first Figure Friday. And all though I'm not sure I'm entirely objective, I still argue that they are just as good, if not better today than they were to me as a kid. That obviously goes without saying for the comics I didn't get to read until I found gold that day in high school.
At that point, reading #1-43, it occurred to me that I still liked G.I. Joe, so I dug out my toys from the closet and started sorting them out, categorizing and structuring the collection.
This was where I went from being a kid who had many toys, to becoming an adult collector.


joerdie said...

Thanks for all these G.I. Joe posts. I have fond memories of playing with my 8 or 9 figures. They were, by far my favorite toys. Sadly, they were left in a sand box sometime in the 1990's.

Jon said...

You are welcome, joerdie! Sorry to hear about your lost figures. Do you remember who they were?