The Courageous Quest for a Toy in One's Own Image

by Monte Williams

9 October 2007

The shelves of our great nation's toy retailers are seldom stocked with action figures of flabby, furry, graying columnists, but that could change . . .

A perfunctory scan of the contents of my and my partner’s bookshelves confirms that the Battle of the Sexes has ended in inevitable male triumph. Where my wife, Tara, fritters about in shallow pursuit of “A God Who Looks Like Me”, I have dedicated myself instead to a noble and selfless mission whose depth of meaning will no doubt be a source of enrichment and inspiration for less courageous men across the globe. I have sought, dear readers, to procure a toy that looks like me.

This has been more challenging than you might expect. The shelves of our great nation’s toy retailers are seldom stocked with action figures of flabby, furry, graying columnists. My friend Kit informs me that one is equally unlikely to score a Fat, Bald Dude toy.

But of course one should play fast and loose with the concept of accuracy when seeking an autobiographigure, for after all, how many toys based on celebrities can boast anything in the way of realism, at least below the neck? My favorite example of a toy company cheerfully disregarding reality in this manner concerns the good people at Jakks Pacific, who, in their WWE Classics series, use the latest in scanning technology to produce head sculpts featuring uncanny likenesses of our favorite pretend-fighters, only to place each convincing head atop wildly implausible bodies.

For a roid-o-rooter like Triple H, a He-Man body sculpt might admittedly make some sense, but Jakks doesn’t hesitate to use the same ripped torso for Ric Flair, a sad, sagging, Play-Doh mess of a man who won his first championship in 1912 and probably hasn’t had a solid bowel movement since the Carter administration:

It stands to reason that any body sculpt good enough for Ric Flair should be good enough for me, and so it was that I purchased an action figure of emo wrasslin’ legend Raven, complete with denim shorts and a Punisher T-shirt. After replacing his head with that of another wrestler named Steven Richards, the next step (or “The Day the Line Was Crossed”, according to my friends and family) was of course to purchase a similar Punisher shirt for myself. It made me look fat, but sacrifices must be made for any quest.

The impetus for this noble journey of mine may well have been a Be-A-G.I. Joe! marketing experiment conducted by toy manufacturer Hasbro back in the late ‘80s, wherein magazine ads encouraged young patriots to stop hunting Commies long enough to fill out a personality profile card (and a check, of course) listing their preferred military branch and code name. Six to eight weeks later, your very own AutobioJoe would make his way to your mailbox.

So that the figure in question could be said to resemble anyone who might care to take advantage of such a rare opportunity, it came with a non-removable (and rather non-descript) helmet to obscure all facial details. The toy’s design was undeniably uninspired, but even so, to hold in one’s grubby little hand a G.I. Joe action figure resembling (sort of) one’s self was a heady thrill, indeed.

The Author As A G.I. Joe, as Illustrated by Kit Seymour

The Author As A G.I. Joe, as Illustrated by Kit Seymour

But that was then, and G.I. Joe is a different beast today, being a series of stylized, Anime-esque dolls nearly three times larger than their ‘80s predecessors (if still smaller than the giant-sized dolls that started the line out in the late ‘60s.) So naturally I had to do some lightweight customizing and produce a G.I. Joe autobiographigure for the 21st century, and alas, the temptation to pimp my Joe was more than I could resist.

My mission accomplished, all that remains is to locate that elusive School Counselor action figure so that my wife needn’t continue to wallow in her silly, shallow rut.

I tell ya. Dames…

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