The 1980s had to be one of the best times to be alive for toys. For me, it was the Masters of The Universe toy line from Mattel. At the time I don’t think me or any of my friends even knew that it was called Masters of the Universe. We just called them He-Man guys. Seriously, even now just me thinking about calling one of my friends on the phone back then and asking him to come over and play Masters of the Universe guys just sounds idiotic. It was too freaking long to spit out. We said, G.I. Joe guys, Star Wars guys. Transformers, were just Transformers. Let’s not get ridiculous.
Even if I tried to abbreviate and say MOTU guys I can imagine my friends 4 or 5 year old fist punching me in the face through the receiver end of the phone. If you grew up with the phones with the curly wires attached to them you would know it was no small feat. So maybe it was an ancient Internet abbreviation. We were just childhood geniuses back then.
“Hey, wanna come over and play with my He-Man guys?”
Awesome. Here’s a fucking Nobel prize for my 5 year old self.
These were more than just toys. These were new friends. Each new figure was a brand new story for my mind to create. Hours of enjoyment with just my mind being the limits. Except, Webster. Fuck him. Every time you pull him out he’s tangled with some other guy like he’s filming a homosexual bondage movie.
These action figures came bundled with a little mini comic book inside that helped explain their origin and told a little story. Bonus goodness! Of course most were featured on the T.V. series running at the time, but usually did little to explain their origins.
Upon receipt, would immediately run down to the early 70s (You can tell by the carpet.) modeled finished basement with my brand new team members. Slowly introducing them to either Castle Grayskull or Snake Mountain. Humming the Masters Of The Universe theme song in my head I would reinforce each side with their proper loyalties. How did they get there? Will Skeletor’s plot to take He-Man’s sword of power and join it to his own to make the ultimate sword finally happen?? That was all up to me. I never seem to let myself down.
Years go by and eventually the He-Man guys ended up in a plastic tote in the back of my closet. I would forget about them for years at a time. Now and then I’d come across them looking for something else I misplaced and I’d give the plastic tote a little pat on the head. Year after year I hoped one day my children would be able to take them on new adventures. I rescued them time and again from my father’s garage sale. Some bonds can never be broken. Eventually, they ended up in a basement closet, safe and secure waiting for their new day. I had all but forgotten them……..
Time went by, and I haven’t had any kids of my own. But I have nieces and a nephew. When they were at their grandparents house they would inevitably end up pulling out toys from the past. One day in particular I received a phone call from my mom.
“Hey, its Mom, the grandkids are here and looking for stuff to do. Is it OK to let them play with your He-Man guys?”
I smiled, and chuckled to myself.
“Yeah Mom, that’s fine.”
“Thank you dear. I was just checking before I pulled them out. Love ya! Bye.”
“Thanks Mom, Love you toooooooo.”
As the “o’s” were fading out of my mouth and I heard my mom hang up the phone, my left eye twitched for a second.
My brain exploded. Not because my He-Man guys were ready to start new adventures for a new generation. No. No. Not at all. At that moment I remembered their final mission. A mission so grand that the forces of Snake Mountain, Castle Grayskull, and even the Evil Horde had to band together for all Eternia!
Flash back to the mid 90s. The school system I was in, decided that to graduate high school every student would have to complete 60 hours of community service. To me, I always believed that it killed the idea of what community service was supposed to be. Possibly, they were getting us ready for any possible minor crimes we would commit later on in life. Who knows?
I took a job at a recycling center on the weekends. It was open to the public and took in any kind of recyclable you could imagine. One of the jobs the other kids and I had to do was climb into the containers and push the piles to the empty sides of the containers. One day I’m heading up the creaky wooden steps to climb into the magazine container. An old man probably late 70s just dumped a couple boxes of magazines in the container and was turning around.
In the best old man voice ever he stops at the bottom of the steps looks me right in the eye and says,
“My wife just made me get rid of my old Playboy collection. Some of them are probably worth some money!”
Then he just turned around and walked away. Or he could of been swept up by the Eagle King from Lord of the Rings for all I knew. My 16 year old mind heard “Playboy’s” and that was it. I was head first in the container. If I remember correctly they were all from late 60s early 70s. I collected what I could find and brought them home. I just needed the perfect place to hide them where my parents couldn’t find them. Yep, you guessed it. In the bottom of my He-Man container underneath all the figures.
Frantically pressing buttons on the phone calling my Mom back. Sweat starting to drip down my brow. Heart pounding. Unable to blink. A quote popped into my head from the Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot”
“I have long feared……that my sins would return to visit me. And the cost is more than I can bear.”
The phone started ringing.
“Brinnnnn”, click, “Hello?”
“MOM! MOM! HEY! It’s me. Look I changed my mind. I don’t think the kids should be playing with the He-Man guys. They could be worth a lot of money some day!”
“Fine dear. Whatever. It’s not like you’re ever going to play with them again. They are just toys! You know what? I didn’t want to dig them out of the closet anyway. I should’ve known better than to even ask.”
Queue the dial tone.
30 years later I still was playing games with my He-Man guys and I didn’t even know it until that moment. I guess the point is if you take care of your toys when you’re younger. They will still take care of you when you’re older?