As a consumer of toys, I buy a lot of toys, and it seems like lately I’m buying more than ever. There’s just too much cool stuff to deny, between near-perfect representations of Transformers in the masterpiece line, to fantastic versions of some of my favorite movies being pumped out by NECA. Add in the phenomenal Masters of the Universe Classics and the utter joygams of the Star Wars Black series, and it’s a new golden age.
But through it all, there’s this unshakeable, nagging sense that there’s something…missing.
It’s not a gaping crevasse that urgently needs to be filled, but this strange, quirky whisper in my ear that just won’t shut up. It’s my childhood, and while not loud, there’s a persistence to it that befits the impregnable power of memory.
Out of all of these properties I’m digging, there’s something I’m missing.
Thats not to say there aren’t new ideas out there. But they’re not coming out with the rapid, full-force blitzkrieg of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when it seemed like there was a fresh, new concept every week that you could pick from.
I miss that, and it makes me wonder: what would be my perfect toyline, if it could be created fully-formed from the scratch-built edge of imagination, with no media to prop it up, no previous line to provide the blueprint, no comic to lean on. When I was a kid I benefited from the fact that the toy purveyors pumped out property after property in late night meeting rooms cobbling together parts built from one part desperation and one part imagination.
But as an adult? The new concepts don’t come quite as fast, and with the hole left I wonder what do I want to see to fill it?
I know what I like. My likes in toys haven’t changed all that much as I’ve “matured” into a toy-collecting adult. (I use matured in quotations because I like to resist maturation in the part of me that collects toys unless I get a bit too pretentious about little plastic things that move.) I like the oddities. I like robots, and monsters, I like things that are unafraid to be multiple things at once. I like gritty realism and I like absurdity, and if they can be co-mingled then all the better.
Masters of the Universe and the all-inclusiveness off that property probably hits closest to being “perfect” than most, because it embraces much of what I like. Robots, monsters, sword-and-sorcery, fantasy, horror, demons…it has it all. But again it’s a property with its genesis in another time.
There are new, fully-formed properties I dig. The Four Horsemen’s creator-owned properties definitely scratch an itch. Scarabus had that larger than life feeling that really sparked my imagination, which is why I ended up with so many of what was essentially one figure and a lot of heads. ThreeA’s rusted robot offerings hit some really cool notes for me, but again, one basic design with a lot of offshoots, more or less. There’s a potential in those lines to really deliver. I think the only thing holding them back is that they’re content to be one thing, and that’s fine.
Above all my perfect toyline would have to be fully articulated, with all the benefits of toynology that the toy industry has managed to muster up to this point. It would have to be run by a company that was independent of retail; I don’t want Wal-mart dictating content. It would be unafraid to mash genres. I want robotic demons and ninja cyborgs all fighting together in an undead army against roving bands of Samurai pirates and all the cool-ass things (or things you thought were cool-ass) that you thought up when you were a kid. I want techno-ogres driven by dwarf pilots that live in the control-center belly of the ogre, slamming Armageddon Hammers against the Gong of the Eternal Midnight to summon the High Priest of Terror who’s made of skulls….or something like that. Something larger than life and fun, with play-potential that just doesn’t end. Yes, play potential. But also shelf-appeal, because both are equally important.
I collect some great toylines. Some near perfect, even. But Perfect? That’s a tall order. I don’t think it exists, or if it does, I’m not aware of it.
What about you? What’s your perfect toyline? Are you collecting it now, or is there something you’d like to see? Leave us a comment and let us know.