I was watching Comic Book Men recently and a guy came in to sell his Marvel World Playset. This caught my attention not so much because of the asking price (which was $600) or the fact that Kevin Smith bought it for his friend Walt (because Kevin Smith is awesome like that), but because of Walt’s reaction. It wasn’t that I thought Walt’s reaction was odd, or exaggerated, or even grossly out of proportion. As Mr. Smith said, “$600 for a piece of your childhood? How much would you pay to have five years old back?” I get it. I was there myself not too long ago. For our anniversary, my amazing wife got me a copy of the one that got away: Spider-Man #1, the Platinum cover.
This comic came out when I was 16. It was Todd McFarlane doing Spider-Man, my favorite comic hero of all time. There were (as far as I knew at the time it came out) four covers, and you could only buy three of them. The fourth was a retailer incentive, one per store. I wanted it so bad. I yearned for it. I never had a chance. It slipped through my fingers, and I never even thought of trying to buy a copy. It was “the one that got away”. Fast forward, literally, more than a lifetime later. My wife gave it to me as the greatest surprise I have ever received. Other than saying she would marry me, I don’t think she has ever done anything I have appreciated more.
So I get it. Recapturing that magic, going back to that moment when you had all of that in your hands… that’s worth so much. We talked about it for a while, and I asked her if there was any toy, any item she could think of that would take her back to her childhood. She couldn’t think of anything, and I don’t know if that’s the difference between her and me or just boys and girls. For me, it would be Castle Grayskull.
For me, it’s not just about having the coolest toy ever made (that comes later), it would be about recapturing one particular Christmas morning. A morning when I was so excited I couldn’t wait for Mom and Dad to wake up, I had to go downstairs and put my new playset together myself. I was a big kid, I could handle it. Only if I had it to do over I would do it right, and the trapdoor wouldn’t be busted for the next five years until I final lost it in a move.
If we want to get into the coolest toys I never had, well, that list would take a lot longer to put together. I mean, what parent can afford to buy all the love of a child who’s into Transformers, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and Voltron? It can’t be done. Don’t get me wrong, I got no kick coming. My parents always did more than right by me at Christmas and birthdays, and plenty of times in between. But let’s not kid ourselves: children’s entertainment in the 80’s was one long toy commercial, and I was an avid consumer.
Still, if I had to pick just one (I’m an adult now, I can do that, I swear) it would be the Vehicle Force Voltron.
Sure, the Lion Force Voltron had the better show (although didn’t they both always fight “my most powerful Robeast”?), but as toys go you couldn’t beat this one. It was like twenty toys in one. I knew a kid up the block who had one, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was totally jealous. I played with it – I mean I played with him whenever I could. Nice guy.
All this thinking about toys and cartoons from my youth recently got me thinking, and I started getting into thinking about the shows I used to watch. I tried to find them on Netflix, but for some reason they’re not there. I did find Danger Mouse on Amazon, but they want way too much (although Christmas is coming Mom… and no, that wasn’t subtle. I don’t do subtle.) I also found the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, which I got for dirt cheap, which is good, because now I can finally see them all in order. And I picked up the first half of Silverhawks, which means I can see those in order. Well, half of them at any rate.
So yeah, Walt. I understand you. There’s no reason to feel ashamed. The truth is, you can’t put a price on your childhood. Or if someone does, that’s even better, because it just means you have a chance to finally buy it back, or a small piece of it at any rate.