Tag Archives: Toys

To Play is Human – But you Gotta Fight For It

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There is an ugly side to human culture that says once we reach a certain age, or level of maturity that we must throw away the things we enjoyed as children.  This to me it is an unhealthy attitude. We may leave behind certain things as we reach maturity, but more often we bastardize our childhood by refusing to integrate who we were yesterday with who we are today.  Rather than grow up, instead we violently reject the child we once were. We move sideways and plateau, rather than forwards and evolve.

Our childhood is part of our personal history, our personal story, and part of who we are today.  To ignore or turn our back on what we enjoyed as children, teenagers or young adults is disrespectful to the person we were yesterday. It is a kind of ugly self-loathing and judgement on that person that says “what you enjoyed was worthless and meaningless, and has no relevance to the me I am today”.

Often people when reaching adulthood will throw things away that they love or stop indulging their passions and hobbies to conform to imagined social norms, or because they don’t expect to be taken seriously as adults if they still have any of their possessions from when they were a child.

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NERDBOT 2.0

I think of people who got rid of their old video games or action figures or comics because it was not considered “adult” to have such things, or their new girlfriend didn’t like “that stuff” so they got rid of it. Often regretting what they did and re-acquiring in their twenties what they gave away in their teens year so they could “grow up”. It’s fine to do that, some folks lose interest in those things and it’s perfectly normal to move on to other interests and hobbies.

This sort of behavior can also be however an attempt to conform to social norms, a violent rejection of the child within us.  Another possibility is that of the adult who lives in a state of arrested development, who refuses to actually grow up and be responsible for themselves, and refuses to actually ever leave childhood, bouncing around from one co-dependent relationship to another and expecting other people to satisfy their needs, with no real effort of their own to mature. Some things are best left behind in childhood, while other things are good to carry with us, our passion and creativity are never something to leave behind.

Both models are extremes, we need to Grow Up, but growing up means growing and expanding, not withdrawing and contracting or rejecting any part of our selves.

On another level, throwing out yesterdays culture and fun is to say that cool characters, works of fiction and toys have no place in the life of an adult, and have no further refined meanings or deeper resonance in life than the gross meaning of a plastic toy that is “fun” or a comic book or kids movie that is “entertaining”.  To be fair the majority of entertainment is vapid, shallow and pointless.  But the world we live in today is far more intelligent at all levels (TV, Film, Literature, Video Games) than say the world of the 1940s

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One of my favourite things in life, an object to be specific is a toy.  It feels silly to even say so, but it is true.

The object is a Transformer toy that my deceased Grandfather Jack Willetts gave to me when I was a kid.  It is my all time favourite toy, it transforms from a two headed dragon into a robot and it looks equally good in both robot and dragon mode.  Most transformers only look good as either the vehicle or as the robot, few look good in both modes.

This aesthetic appeal was something that appealed to me when I was a kid and even now as an adult.  A good design is a good design.  Another thing I like about this toy is it was in one of the first post Generation-1 wave of Transformers toys that were not based on the cartoon characters.  It meant the character was entirely new, and the personality of the character was not fleshed out, which means to a kid you can imagine any personality you like for the character.

On one level,  I know the toy is just a cheap piece of plastic based around a cartoon that was basically made to sell toys to kids for the purpose of corporate profit.

But on another level that cheap piece of plastic is a direct link to my deceased Grandfather.  I can’t look at it, or play with it without thinking of him, and remember the good times we shared, and how he encouraged me as a kid to read comics by buying me my first Ninja Turtle and Alf comics.  Nobody else in my life ever bought me comics when I was a kid, and I will always be grateful, because without those first comics my passion for superheroes would have never developed, and this blog would not exist.

When I was a kid, my grandfather was one of the coolest guys in the world, he didn’t talk down to me, he bought me the comics of my choice and I always enjoyed just hanging out with him no matter what he was doing.  He loved to bet on horse races, he loved Rugby and Cricket and gardening.  His garden won several local competitions, you have never seen a lawn as neat as my Grandfathers lawn, it was immaculate, that lawn got more care and attention than a Kardashian’s wobbly ass on a magazine cover.

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In ancient times, wisdom would be passed down from generation to generation (well I hope wisdom was passed on, I guess some bullshit got passed on along with the good stuff).  Elders were loved, respected and revered as those who were wiser than us.  Sacred objects had meaning, in that they may be passed to descendants, and something of the spirit of the person embodies that object. Whether you take that meaning as literal or metaphoric really doesn’t matter.  The emotional experience is basically the same either way. Reality is always different for everyone, and we like to Romanticise all aspects of culture.

Cold hard dead objects made of matter, composed of atoms have emotional significance to us when passed on from a loved one.  The watch that was sent back from someone’s father or husband from the front line, a rifle or hunting knife passed from father to son, son to grandson, an antique wedding ring passed from mother to daughter, a photo of relatives no longer with us, or a cheap plastic toy loaded with memories.

There are no sacred objects, and yet any object is sacred if it has deep personal meaning to us.  All objects are made of matter, or atoms, and any significance or power we imbue them with exists only in our minds, not in the object itself.

We can enjoy our sacred objects and need not make them into Idols

When we throw culture and tradition out the window, and cease to respect our elders, we lose a little something.  It is indefinable.  Call it unique story, call it wisdom tradition, call it passing down basic information critical to survive in the world or call it feeling a deep inner sense of satisfaction at knowing your place in the world and grand scheme of things.  Call it knowing that you and Life are one and the same, that you are in alignment with unseen forces, that you matter, that you have purpose and infinite dimensions to who and what you are.  Call it intuition or gut feeling or whatever you like.  But we lost part of ourselves and our communal nature when we try to go it alone in life, and reject everything that has come before our time.

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Is it wise to simply throw all that away?  Is it wise to explain away our emotional and intellectual satisfaction in life as basically meaningless? Is it wise to say we know it all and don’t need to learn anything new, because we have evolved, or because we are a “civilized” modern society?  If we are really so smart and wise, why do so many of us starve to death on a daily basis?  Why do we keep murdering each other for resources and land? Why do so many of us feel ashamed just to be alive?  Why do so many of us have this emptiness inside us that we cannot seem to fill, no matter what we do?  A genuine need that goes unaddressed, and unfulfilled as our collective intelligence has consistently failed to even identify what it is that actually satisfies our heart of hearts.

I don’t have the solution to any of those things, and forgive this digression from talking about “stuff”. I’m stepping down from my Invisible Pantomime Highhorse. What I’m saying from my heart to yours is that we need personal connection, with others and with ourselves and with our own personal history. It’s not selfish to be who you are, and enjoy what you enjoy without trying to make some soft of “excuse” for it.

We can enjoy the younger self that we were, while also continuing to grow and evolve as responsible individuals. What I’m saying is, don’t ever feel embarrassed to like what you like. I remember being teased in high school for reading “comic books”, but I never stopped reading them, despite how painful it was being teased. Now look at today, people flock to the box office to see Superhero films, likely some of the same people who teased me for being into Superheroes. Well the Hats on the other Foot now childhood jerks!

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For most people, what we like doesn’t really change a whole lot in our lifetimes. I liked Batman, Ninja Turtles and Transformers when I was a kid – and it’s still what I enjoy today. If anything, I enjoy those characters their fiction and lore even MORE than when I was a kid.

I still have the basic joy of a 8-10 year old boy who loves action movies and superhero cartoons and comics, but combined with a larger mature perspective where I can appreciate the people who CREATED those worlds, who Imagineered them into existence. The people who animated the shows, drew the comics, designed the toys, voiced the characters. The values that went into those characters that influenced me for the better, and the inspiration today I draw from those characters and all the hard work that went into making them so special I enjoy and appreciate at a much deeper level.

Meanwhile, despite being able to string a sentence or two together – I am the most overly-enthusiastic MAN-CHILD you could ever meet. I’m painfully aware of it. I really have no choice but to embrace it. I still also develop other characteristics, skills and abilities as an “adult” EXP +1200, INT +2 MIGHT +5, LUCK +1 – and most folks would say I am a pretty responsible person.

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But at a basic level if you show me a Robot Dinosaur that shoots frikkin Neon Laser Beams  from its eyes – well then I am eight years old again instantly. I don’t have any choice in the matter.

I love Dinosaurs and Robots and sci-fi pew pew Lazer Beams and I’m foaming at the mouth even thinking of such things. That is not going to change.

At age 37 – I am still a shy introvert who is somewhat socially retarded.  I’ve learnt to embrace the best parts of myself, and not deny any of my various flaws or short comings as a human being which include: Hulk like rage, Anxiety, sometimes mild Depression, a Need to always keep Talking and have the last word instead of Shutting Up.

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All of that is part of Who I Am, it’s not going away. I don’t need to be “Fixed”. I’m not broken and I legitimately love the person I am today, and the things that I enjoy, my passions are a part of me, my heritage and inspire me daily. It wasn’t always like that, self-loathing was my companion for about half of my life so far. At some point, I stopped listening to any of that nonsensical bullshit people try to put you down with, I silenced that Inner Critic permanently, choke slammed that mother fucker right through the wrestling ring floor and sent them straight to hell.

My OCD “never shuts the fuck up” borderline MANIA for all things fantasy, sci-fi, superheroes etc I turn into blogs and articles. Instead of boring people to death in real life, I can bore them to death in the digital domain. And if anyone doesn’t like it, well they can stop reading and walk away at any time- makes no difference to me.

This is the part where the article ends and I have nothing more to say. No summary or Zen-like wisdom. Wax the car maybe?

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I graduated from the Miyagi school of Kung-Foolery. All I learnt there was to enjoy what you enjoy, be who you are and don’t ever apologize to anyone, or try to change yourself to suit them. Or ever shut the fuck up when you’ve got something worthwhile to say about what you stand for in life, the people you love and are responsible for. Whatever your passions and hobbies are enjoy them, let them inspire you – but don’t let them hold you back either from doing whatever truly matters to you.

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Can You Ever Have too Many toys? The Most Pointless of Questions is Asked

If there such a thing as having “too many toys”?

For some the answer is yes.

While for others the answer is no.

The question becomes too many FOR WHOM?

I don’t like to put artificial borders on my thinking not in any level of life, or activity.

There are enough real world unavoidable obstacles and barriers in daily life, that I don’t have to go inventing new ones.

So, my simple answer is no.

You can never have too many toys. However, the toys you have now, can take up too much physical space.

So let’s reframe the idea…

Say you had infinite space, and infinite money, could you have “too many toys” then?

To me the answer is no – what are toys but art solidified – but ideas expressed.

You might as well ask “Can you every have too many ideas?” No, never.

Now, if you have finite resources, such as limited money and limited physical space, can you have too many toys then? YES, for sure.

I like to think that if I was super wealthy, I would not turn into a pack rat hoarder with a house full of toys (no offense to pack rats intended, I’ve been there before, and I don’t like it).

What I would do with infinite money, toys, materials etc – is invest in some sort of toy museum, where people could come along and enjoy a gigantic collection of amazing toys. Yes, that sounds like fun to me.

Perhaps a gold coin donation to enter, to help with upkeep of the place, then stay as long as you like, fuck about with some toys, and have a good time maybe chat to folks who enjoy similar things to you. Sounds good to me. Yes.

If it grew big enough, maybe it could attract people from far and wide, maybe add in guest speakers or something to make it a bit more interesting.

“But the toys would break if people keep playing with them, especially the vintage stuff?” some might say.

DON’T CARE.

NOT INTERESTED.

Break them.

Joy.

Whatever – they are toys, that is half the fun. I use the word museum loosely, let someone else be all about preservation, I’m more interested in fun and destruction, that in hermetically sealing away toys as cultural artifacts.

Also it is  fun to break things. Part of the experience of being a kid and having toys is learning you CAN break them, and not just by accident. We learn the physical world and the application of force has consequences.

Better to break toys than people.

One of my fondest shared memories with one of my oldest mates is when we were really bored one day at his place (this is back when we were about 13 or so) we got his toy Battlecat –

…and set fire to the tooth,

just for a lark.

Turns out plastic is *very flammable* (who knew?)  – and pretty quickly the whole head was on fire and the garage was full of toxic black plastic fumes. Not joking, we could have potentially set the garage / house on fire really.

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Not Flame Proof, but probably a Flamer

We decided to move the Battlecat into the backyard, it was on a big piece of old wooden board so we picked it up and moved it, rather hastily.

Well quickly, but in a lazy bored way really.

Within another sixty seconds, the whole thing was a miniature inferno of flames and smoke.

Then another minute or two later, it was just a puddle of melted green stinky fumey plastic.

Bye-bye Battlecat.

Now the collector in me today says “why the fuck would you do that?”

The kid in me says “BECAUSE”.

We were bored, and it was fun.

And fuck Battlecat. He was kinda dumb and boring and stuff.

What kid hasn’t melted plastic army men or cut off their heads or arms?

This just happened to be a nice toy that we really didn’t give a fuck about it, it may as well have been a plastic shopping bag, that was how we felt about it at the time.

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So, too many toys?

Is it a thing? It can be.

But I think it comes down to priorities.

I see folks online all the time with amazing *gigantic* collections.

And even if I had the money and space they do, I don’t want that.

I limit my toy habits to just what I can keep in one room, and a couple storage tubs in the garage.

I don’t EVER want a garage full of toys, like the way it used to be full of DVD movies before I purged them during another move.

I hate clutter, yet I am forever buying crap I don’t need and cluttering up my living spaces. It never ends.

Every year I get rid of loads of stuff, and seem to always acquire more than I have gotten rid of.

Too many toys? Yes/No/Maybe.

Also, fuck that Battlecat. I really can’t stand that character. Think I’m extra surly this month.

“What! Why did Battlecat have to get double fucked?”

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