When I was around eight years old or so, in a fit of unquestioned rage, my father kicked over a selection of G.I. Joes I had been collecting for a few years, breaking many of their rubber-band spines in half—Leatherneck, Wet Suit and Lifeline were among the casualties—with the loud message that I “needed to grow the Hell up” and fast.
When the incident happened, I admit that I was quite upset, as you’d expect; in hindsight however, it may have been the best thing that he had ever done for me and to me. As a result, I don’t get the same infantile erections that many so-called “men” that I somewhat consider my contemporaries do over old Thundercats or Silverhawks toys.
That’s probably why I appreciated the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley so much; it’s a place where grown-ups—and whatever children you have lying around, of course—can go and view classic toys and remember the days of youth long lost to tragedy, losing only the $7 entrance fee as opposed to the thousands of dollars on a limited-edition Japanese Sailor Moon or some other fallacy of fancy figurines ordered from specialty websites.
In this palace of poseable plastic, you’re greeted by all the big names from our cartoon-byproduct imaginations, from the classic shape-changing Transformers to the recent wallet-shrinking Marvel Comics toys, all in fully-enclosed glass cases, probably to keep a mixture of greasy fingers and drooling lips off each moderately valuable action figure...
The main exhibit of the museum is a replica of a child’s bedroom—or, sadly, a grown male’s—covered in every toy imaginable, with scenes that include Castle Grayskull being invaded by the Sewer Sharks, and Marshal BraveStarr taking on an AT-AT; it’s a monstrous creation with only a metal bar holding back the most maniacal of collectors, who usually stand there, pointing out the minutiae of every figure to any uninterested party near them.
And while I enjoyed admiring the 18-inch John Lennon in New York figure and all the capitalism that it stood for, even he was dwarfed by the McFarlane figures retrospective; known mostly for his Spawn figures, he also took on classic horror films such as Hellraiser and the Evil Dead, about twenty years too early to fully appreciate in a museum setting. I personally remember them gathering dust on the clearance racks at Kay-Bee in Penn Square Mall.
The novel Batcave area consisted of the many instances of Batman merchandise throughout the years, including a favorite in my house, the Batman brand of tortilla chips, mostly broken; unfortunately, I didn’t see any of the Batman sweetened cereal I used to love. As I turned around, however, I was momentarily taken aback by the anti-Semitic bug-man from the misbegotten Phantom Menace installment of the Star Wars debacles.
Pointing out a few old Hulk figures I used to have as a child to no one—even though there wasn’t the hollow-plastic Mexican knock-off Hulk my abuela gave for my third birthday, natch—over to my left, I noticed a shrine to the mildly famous cartoonists in Oklahoma history, with a special emphasis on the Oklahoman’s resident political cartoonist, the late Jim Lange.
Primarily known as the guy who popularized the Gaylord-approved image of the sweat-pouring Mr. Voter, lamenting the wily school-teacher counting her money while the students are left to suffer in idiocy, after a glace through his dated portfolio, I decided that I had enough flights of fantasy for one day; as I got into the car to head back to the city, I slid in the latest Prince album, glad my father never discovered my stash of near-pornographic records and tapes.