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Will's Guide to the Universe

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Welcome to the Universe of Imagination!

Action Figure Universe, where the comparative mythology of Joseph Campbell meets pop culture & modern mass media memorabilia, is an interactive entertainment scrapbook & resource site, all about figures of action & adventure of the mythic past, present & future, as they appear in their various forms in human history, popular art & the ever-expanding collectible toy market.

For me, collecting, enjoying & studying action figures isn't just about childhood memories.  It's an important part of personal growth & self-actualization, as well as a fun way to remain creative & imaginative throughout life's amazing journey.

Many of the action characters (heroes & villains alike) you will find here were conceived for adults, while others were originally intended for a younger audience.  Bearing in mind that no one is ever too old to be young at heart, I bid you welcome to the Action Figure Universe.

While you're here, feel free to explore the boundless reaches of child-like wonder & imagination that have long inspired people of all ages to not just dream, but to do, create & of course, PLAY.  As you step beyond the threshold of the so-called "real world," take heart & remember...

"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."

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2014.03.01 | 2014.01.01 | 2013.12.01 | 2013.11.01 | 2013.10.01 | 2013.09.01 | 2013.07.01 | 2013.06.01 | 2013.05.01 | 2013.04.01 | 2013.01.01 | 2012.12.01 | 2012.11.01 | 2012.07.01 | 2012.06.01 | 2012.04.01 | 2012.03.01 | 2012.02.01 | 2012.01.01 | 2011.12.01 | 2011.11.01 | 2011.10.01 | 2010.12.01

Monday, March 17, 2014

No More Mission Log "Sexist Trek" for Me!

When I first heard about the Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast, I was really excited.  I thought, wow!  This is going to be a celebration of Star Trek like never before.  Two guys, hand picked by Rod Roddenberry (the late, great Gene Roddenberry's son himself) talking Trek, right?  I mean who could ask for more, right?

Well, in fact, I really wish I personally had had a much better experience while listening to most of the broadcasts that have been put out thus far.  Between the constant accusations by co-host Ken Ray, that Star Trek: The Original Series is "sexist," and the often irreverent treatment of many of the most beloved classic episodes, I have finally just opted to stop listening altogether.

I suppose it hasn't been all bad, however.  Co-host John Champion still has my respect and admiration.  He certainly knows his stuff when it comes to Star Trek and Sci-fi in general, so I've definitely got no beef with him.  But alas, he is only a co-host.  And with Ray editing the program... that seems to pretty much throw the fairness factor way the hell out.

Basically, I've noticed that any time someone writes or calls in to complain about the way some of the classic episodes are criticized or even just totally made fun of, Mr. Ray always gets the very last word.  And quite of few of his last words often seem to be all about reminding the audience that he was hand picked by the son of "The Great Bird of the Galaxy, Gene Roddenberry" himself.  Okay, have it your way, Mr. Ray!

Oh well.  Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast has more than 10,000 "likes" on Facebook, so I suppose they're doing something right.  For yours truly, however, that particular podcast is now history, not to mention a rather unpleasant memory.  Listening to two guys talk Star Trek is certainly a great idea, but I would think it might be better if both of the them were at least roughly equally knowledgeable about the subject matter being covered.

Okay, at some point down the line, I may just give the show another chance, but for now, I think I need a good long break, so I can hopefully forget a lot of the often disparaging and really far too irreverent remarks about the Original Series that I really wish I hadn't tuned in to have burned into my otherwise happy geek brain.

Bottom line:  Was Star Trek: The Original Series a perfect production?  Hell no!  Did some of the episodes fall short of the mark?  Sure!  Quite a few episodes weren't especially good, in fact, but since all that is clearly subjective, I think I'd rather not have to listen to people pick my all time favorite classic series apart.  I mean, where's the fan boy fun in that?

Further, was the show "sexist" in general?  I just don't know about that, Roddenberry Podcast fellows, but your "politically correct" OPINION is noted.  And dude... if your wife doesn't want to watch Star Trek with you, why force it?  I dunno.  Maybe THAT'S sexist.

But hey!  What do I know, right?  I wasn't hand picked by Rod Roddenberry himself, was I?  And hey, don't take my word for it.  If you haven't yet caught the show for yourself, check it out at the link provided below.  I don't think I'll be continuing to promote the program on my site, however.  Nothing personal, of course.  I just would rather enjoy re-watching episodes of classic Star Trek without all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 style heckling.

And for those that do manage to get something worthwhile out of the Roddenberry Podcast, you are more than welcome to continue to enjoy it.  And most of all, to one and all, I sincerely hope that you all "live long and prosper."  Happy Star Trekking everyone!

Advertising-Star-Trek/st-a-ml-ep88.jpgEnergize!
Energize!
1:34 am jst

Sunday, January 12, 2014



My G.I. Joe History

Like so many avid collectors of vintage original G.I. Joe, I have an enormous fondness for the items that were manufactured by Hasbro from 1964-1976.  But vintage pieces that aren't busted up and covered in decades of dust and dirt from hours of childhood play are often pricey or just hard to come by.  Oh sure, there's always something available on eBay, but quite a lot of it has been refurbished or altered in some way by individual collectors.

Many of these individuals hold onto their vintage G.I. Joe acquisitions for a while, and then understandably, want to make a considerable profit when they do decide to sell.  Still others just keep adding duplicates, triplicates, and on and on, of individual pieces that they already have to their ever growing collection - which is of course also very, very understandable.  After all, various early production lines had minor or even major differences, and honestly, I'd have multiples myself, if I didn't have other bills to pay (and wasn't interested in all sorts of other action figures, too).

I personally like the reproduction G.I. Joe stuff (pictured above) because it's usually complete, doesn't smell four or even five decades old, doesn't need a lot of cleaning or repair, and is usually much more affordable than vintage.  But then... we get into the various (dare I say WARRING) factions of the G.I. Joe collecting community.

Some only want vintage items, and having all that rare, (sometimes) minty stuff is an irresistible badge of honor (or just a good, honest fulfillment of childhood dreams, perhaps - which is great in its own right), so everything else labeled G.I. Joe is "CRAP!" to them.  And I'm not necessarily knocking that, since I'd have to say that it's actually healthy to specialize in your individual collecting habits.

At any rate, some collectors only like the original military era G.I. Joe stuff produced from 1964 to 1968 or 69.  Only the Adventure Team items are up to snuff for others.  Some think the sixth scale version of G.I. Joe is passe,
and only the Real American Hero version will do.  But then many of the sixth scale guys hate them, calling their stuff "crap!"  Some even hate Brian Savage's International G.I. Joe Collectors' Club because they think it emphasizes the 3 3/4" line way too much....

To be perfectly honest, I just love ALL the various incarnations of G.I. Joe!  And I consider myself fortunate in a way, because I was growing up when "big" G.I. Joe was in his heyday, during the Adventure Team years (1970 to roughly '75 or '76 -depending on how you slice it), but I was still relatively young when the smaller scale line was coming in.

So I was really, really young when the Adventure Team was first winning the hearts and minds of a generation of kids who grew up in the first half of the 1970s.  In fact, when I was only about four or five, I got my first Adventure Team Talking Commander for Christmas.  He was the ONLY G.I. Joe product I got as a kid, though my brothers each received AT figures from Santa that same year.

My older brother also had a Talking Commander, like mine.  One younger brother had a Sea Adventurer, and the youngest one, a few years later, when he was old enough, got the only Kung Fu Grip Adventure Team G.I. Joe we ever had in the family house; the still impressive Land Adventurer!

I still remember my youngest brother allowing me to sit and hold that glorious US Marines camo uniformed beauty!  Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun from A Christmas Story could have never held such delight for yours truly!  Even if, that Land Adventurer G.I. Joe's AT rifle accessory didn't have "a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time."

Christmases were almost always good back then, but as a kid I only got to see G.I. Joe sets and accessories once a year, in Christmas catalogs that I had to sometimes literally FIGHT my siblings to be able to look at for maybe twenty scant minutes at a time!  I did get to see the Adventure Team Capture Copter and a black Adventurer up close and personal for all of a few hours one afternoon though, when I played over at a friend's house.  But that, unfortunately, was all she wrote.

Sometimes... I'd just like to go back in time, punch that kid in the face and wrestle his Joes away from him!  I mean, his figures looked like they were never played with!  Just thinking back about those now priceless figures still brings great pangs of starved toy collector agony.  Oh, the pain!  But I couldn't never take any kid's beloved G.I. Joes!  Never in a million years.  I'd probably just go back in time and pay him triple what they were worth back then, hop back in my trusty time machine, and come back to the here and now, and just... be so incredibly happy.

Then... the Real American Hero line came along in 1982, when I was just starting high school. By then I was supposed to be too old to collect G.I. Joe, but I still have really fond memories of the RAH Joes my youngest brother was collecting back then.  He had many of the very first "straight arm" 3 3/4" figures, so it was an exciting time for me - even if I wasn't supposed to playing with my little brother's toys when he wasn't around.

And man, that original cast of RAH characters and villains were really impressive, and very, very imaginatively rendered.  The entire G.I. Joe RAH mythos that the production team at Hasbro created back in the early 80s, with all the wonderful figures, vehicles and play sets (not to mention the masterfully integrated Marvel Comics by Larry Hama)... well, it was all (and still is) nothing short of remarkable.

Of course, in my heart of hearts, the G.I. Joe Adventure Team is the ultimate chapter of G.I. Joe history!  But... I totally do not understand why anybody who truly love action figures doesn't have at least some interest in ALL incarnations of Hasbro's greatest ever line of toys for boys.  Even and especially the short lived Super Joe line.  If the softer plastics on those old late 70s 8 1/2" figures hadn't disintegrated with age, and the product line had actually lasted longer (making that stuff relatively rare nowadays), I would be SO ALL OVER THAT STUFF!  But, what can I say?  I guess I'm just silly like that.  ;)

3:28 am jst

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Action Figure Universe Turns 10

Is it really 2014 already?  You bet!  And this year is gonna be a MIGHTY BIG one for Will's Action Figure Universe!  If for no other reason than the fact that the site is celebrating a full decade on the world wide web!

It's hard to believe it's really been a full ten years already, but here we are, folks.  And make no mistake about it, the action packed action figure filled adventure is just beginning here at the ever expanding Universe of Imagination!

So expect big changes, COMING SOON!  And, as always, here's to the future of the Universe - while we pause momentarily to look back at the past, and all the good fortune and wonder filled childhood memories that will live on forever and ever in the timeless reaches of this little corner of the even larger Action Figure Multiverse.

3:25 am jst

Thursday, December 19, 2013



Christmas is Here!

Well, it's Christmas time once again.  This year I've finally gotten around to updating the Christmas page.  But as always, there is still so much more I'd like/need to do.  If only the holiday season weren't such a busy time of year.

Sigh.  At any rate, there's more to come for the Christmas page of Will's Action Figure Universe, so please bear with me until I can get it all put up.  Hmmm.... We've got our family Christmas tree up already, so I guess that's something.

Now to put up the A Christmas Story page.  And that G.I. Joe Christmas Pictorial, too.  Ah!  All in good time, I suppose.  All in good time.  Merry Christmas to one and all!

Christmas is here!
 
1:07 am jst

Monday, November 25, 2013


 
Celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who!

On the momentous occasion of 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who franchise, I am left wondering... if the classic Back to the Future Trilogy has anything to do with Doctor Who?  You bet!  It's not a ripoff by any means, but perhaps we can call BTTF an indirect tribute to the BBC series that just happens to be the longest running sci-fi television franchise in history.

Remember that Doctor Who is the tale of a mysterious, often eccentric and sometimes misunderstood man who travels around in space and time, often with one or more companions.  In the case of the beloved Robert Zemeckis films, Marty McFly is THE companion who is actually the star of the story, and the crazy old "Doctor" character is the brilliant, but somewhat zany Doctor ("Doc") Emmett Brown.  No comparison?  "No way," you say?

Kindly consider that before the time machine used in the films became a slick, souped up stainless steel DeLorean, the original concept was to have the miraculous machine be Doc Brown's modified refrigerator.  BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

Now... a refrigerator isn't quite an ultra sophisticated T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) time machine/space ship with a malfunctioning "chameleon circuit," permanently stuck in the shape of a mid 20th century British Police Public Call Box, but hopefully, you get the idea.

"Get outa town!" you say? I'm comparing apples and oranges, you say? Ah, but we must remember, that time and time again, when it comes to adventures in space and time, it's all, as Albert Einstein himself might very well have put it, "relative."

Or, as the 10th Doctor (played by Scottish actor David Tennant) of Doctor Who fame has been known to put it, "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff."

Whatever the case may be, right now is always a great time to not only celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, but to also get back to Back to the Future, and that timeless classic by Huey Lewis and the News -- Back in Time.

Geronimo!
12:20 am jst

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