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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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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


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