Your Quarters Worth

Recollection: The Fix Remix

huge toy collection


Written by John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk

I was blessed to have parents who bought my brother and I lots of toys when we were children. Yet the more they brought me, the less I was satisfied. It was such a limited time that I would stay excited.

There was shiny colorful packaging and its inevitable destruction to get at the contents within. New toys, trading cards, and books each held its own it own distinct smells. There was the powder from that nasty stick of gum inside of those baseball card packs when you opened them.

bball cards with gum
Baseball cards with stale gum

Newness…

I would play with a new toy and before too long I would want for another. Some commercial I’d see, or some friend would show me something else that I did not have. I would want it. I would immediately forget about the new toy I got a week ago or yesterday, or just a few minutes ago.

Of course if I had an Optimus Prime or Liono or Michaelangelo I would need another Megatron or Mumra or Shredder to fight against. I needed Jazz and Bumblebee and Cheetara and Snarff to fight alongside.

thundercats
Thundercats

Then I would need the vehicles because, duh! Heroes and bad guys each need vehicles like kids like me needed toys.

Of course I needed Leonardo, and Donatello, and Rafael, and Rocksteady, and Bebop, and April O’Neil, and a Foot Soldier or two, and Casey Jones, and even Baxter Stockman.

I would play with all these in front of the TV. Sometimes I would share with my brother, Matt. Sometimes I was like “To hell with him.” I wanted all these guys to myself. Matt will tattle to Mom, or worse yet Dad, and they would get me in trouble. I let Matt play most of the time.

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Matt

While we played we watched the cartoons that were designed to sell us these toys that we played with.

Those same shows also sold us the clothes we wore and accessories, like backpacks and lunch boxes with Thermoses {1}. Those same shows sold us cereal boxes and video tapes of the shows and of course the video games of the shows. Boy those theme songs were memorable weren’t they?

Then came commercial breaks…

What is this? A second or third or sixth new series of my action figures I’m playing with right here. “Mom!…”

They had all new third tier characters. Reiterations of guys I already had with new swords that spin in the figures’ hands. Then there were reiterations of the guys I got twice already, but this time they had a gun and the missile actually shoots. I had to have the newest.

turtles
Variations of the same Ninja Turtles

He-Man made way for Thundercats who made way for G.I. Joe. The Joes and Cobras made way for Ghostbusters and then WWF Wrestlers; not those junky plastic ones but the twelve inch rubber ones. My Dad used to bring bunches of those guys home each time. We had the ring and the steel cage ready for the Battle Royal.

Transformers came and then the Go-Bots after them. Everyone knew Go-Bots were just knock off Transformers, but I didn’t care. I got new transforming robots and that’s all that mattered. There were Silverhawks. Those guys were dope. There was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Captain Planet toys too. There were Hot Wheels, but definitely not those Matchbox Cars. They were impostors. There were micro machines. They were the miniature versions of the Hot Wheels.

silverhawks

There were those tiny army men who came inside a flashlight or a grenade or a canteen or a rifle. The gun or grenade would open or unfold and it became a base for the figures. It was like a boy version of Polly Pocket, but I cannot recall their name.

I asked for them all and collected them all. It was kind of like I was on a quest. The longer I went on the journey the further away my destination became.

The goal became more blurred and obscured.

I collected baseball cards and Looney Tunes Cards and DC Cards and Marvel Cards. My sets weren’t completed until I had every single one and all the holograms. Of course I had tons of duplicates and triples and quadruples of all the common cards with the occasional rare or uncommon double that would be good for a trade for the one I needed…

dangerroom
Complete collection of Danger Room scene from 1992’s X-Men trading cards

I graduated to Magic cards. On that one I would spend how many hundreds or thousands of dollars? On how many thousands of cards? They all filled binders and boxes, but never my want. I bought a few Dragonball Z cards before I was done with the trading cards. It was time to become a man.

As a young man I would spend the same money and energy on music CDs and DVDs of movies and video games and magazines. This continued until I collected a loan for an overpriced car I also collected from a local automobile dealership. It wasn’t new, but it was new to me.

After that I collected credit card debt that took over fifteen years and a lot, a lot, a lot of hours working at jobs to realize did not need any of it.

Credit-card-bill
A bill. (In case you have never seen one.)

The newness had finally wore off.

I didn’t care where my Marvel cards or my Thundercats or my X-Men or my Wrestlers had gone. I wasn’t worried about where all those Legos had disappeared to. I put them together and barely played with them anyway. They just sat on crowded shelves in my bedroom set until I went off to college.

It didn’t matter how much they fetched at my mom’s garage sales later or how much ended up in a landfill or in an ocean or in a time capsule. I had learned way too late the only thing that really mattered was my relationships and my experiences.

What mattered was what my parents and family and friends were trying to tell me by giving me all this sweet shit. The shit never mattered.

jkwedding063.jpg
My greatest collection.

I could’ve done without any of it.

A day outside playing sports, or riding my bike with friends, or at a family barbecue was worth more than any of those collections of new material things. My health and my time held way more value than all those boxes and binders and dollars of cards.

By enjoying the moment, the playing, I was happier than I ever was buying, stealing, opening, breaking, trading, destroying, trashing, selling, or giving sway those things ever made me combined.

Today my wife and I took our daughter to Toys “R” Us closing sale here in Westminster Colorado. I told my daughter that we had veto power over any toy she picked out. She could get something as long as it wasn’t crap. You either know what I mean or you don’t, so I won’t preach on it here.

P1060377
My daughter holding a bank she won from a costume contest at Time Warp Comics in Boulder, Colorado

She looked at and played with darn near everything in the store. Her buying impulses were firing. Mine and my my wife’s were as well since our daughter’s birthday was coming in the next few months.

We left the store with a doll, some shoes for the doll, and an early Halloween costume since it was a great deal. We had an awesome time together. Although we all got a bit crazy, the experience will outweigh even that two foot tall doll in my eyes and I hope my daughter’s eyes as well.

We got the opportunity to teach her about consumerism and why even just the concept of Shopkins is wrong. She asked why Toys “R” Us was going out of business. I told her because bad people ran it poorly.

shopkins
Shopkins

I had a moment as we were about to walk out the exit after we got done stabbing and slicing each other with a NERF sword someone left at the end of a closed register. I reflected on my childhood. Once I snuck over to the local Toys “R” Us behind the apartments I grew up in in East Brunswick, New Jersey when I was younger than her to buy a cap gun. I went with my brother and my cousin, Nicky. I don’t know where that cap gun is, but I’ll always have that memory.

This is the end of an era indeed.


{1}What the hell is the plural of Thermos anyway?
thermoses
Thermoses? Thermi? Thermothesis?
Acknowledgements to my wife, Kodid. She puts up with my neurosis about getting rid of stuff. Love always to my brother, Matthew. You always played with me even when I was being a bad & greedy older brother. I should’ve given you those rides to high school as well. Also love to my oldest cousin, Dominick. Nicky, you were an only child, but never once did you not share all that sweet stuff you had.
Lastly, thanks, Mom and Dad, family and family friends who spoiled me as a kid and a teenager. I get it now more than I ever got it as material gifts or money back then. And I love you all too.

If you enjoyed this article please check out more of mine and other amazing content creators on 5280Geek

And my other creative works: jandreula.wordpress.com (blog) – facebook.com/JohnAndreulaJr@failsupward (on Instagram)@failingupwardsj (on Twitter)

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