Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another One From The Vault.

OK, so again, I've unearthed an older post from the pre-RoG days.

This particular post comes from July 7, 2010 but seems even more relevant to me now since I now have a young son who is pure rough and tumble little boy but also completely fascinated with "Daws" as he calls them. This was originally titled "HA HA.... You Play With Dolls!"

As a small kid in the early to mid '70s, I had most of the well-known large scale "action figures" of the time. Big Jim, GI Joe, Steve Austin, various Mego characters, you name it. I have always liked this style of figure and was sorry to see its demise in the late '70s followed by the decade-plus dominance of the boy's toy market by the smaller, 3 3/4 inch- 1/18 scale figure.

I was thrilled when, after a few tepid false starts, the modern renaissance of the 1/6 scale, fully dressable action figure started in about 1996 with the release of the GI Joe Classic Collection. 14 years later, the market is much more sophisticated, the individual figures much more expensive and generally aimed at a more serious and demanding adult collector market. Still, whatever you call them and however you choose to view them, the undeniable, inescapable fact remains that they are... DOLLS!

I bring this up because of a recent debate I watched on (a board I no longer visit). There's been a kind of running "joke" there for years about how the use of the term doll sends some members into absolute fits. The reason I use parentheses is because it really isn't much of a joke. Some of the guys there and on other message boards I've visited go to great length to distance themselves from the "doll hobby" as a whole. A significant segment of the 1/6 scale action figure market in recent years has moved towards non-military subjects and there are now several manufacturers selling civilian clothes. One recent manufacturer's preview led a long-time member to quip that it was "like Barbie for men" or words to that effect. When pressed to explain, he opined that it was the "interest in fashion" that differentiates the Barbie-like tendency from the (apparently more masculine) interest in military, historical and media property figures. If I understand this line of reasoning, two identical 1/6 scale male figures would diverge based on the way they're dressed. If one figure wears the latest high speed, low drag military gear in whatever "must have" camouflage pattern is in use this month, he's a 1/6 scale action figure. If another copy of the same figure is dressed some funky "street wear", he's nothing more than a male Barbie doll. (Presumably revealing something about the owner as well?)

As the old saying goes, denial (de Nile) isn't just a river in Egypt! Look man, to the rest of the world, you play with dolls. End of story!

I don't get upset about the term "doll". If you want to say that I play with dolls, quite honestly, you're correct. For me, this hobby is about two things; a fascination with miniatures in general and also, a way for me to have physical representation of the characters and worlds in my imagination. It's also a way to connect to the more pleasant aspects of childhood (hey, isn't that three things?). Dolls or action figures, it's all pretty much the same to me.

As a funny, somewhat related aside, my son was roaming the house yesterday afternoon and while in the living room, I noticed he had gotten quiet. Now, if you are or have been the parent of a toddler, you know quiet is not usually a good thing unless they're asleep. After listening for a moment, I called to him "Hey bud, what are doing?" He replies "DAW!" with much enthusiasm. I was pretty sure that he'd taken all the boxed/carded figures off the shelf he can reach (which is why they're still boxed/carded). I was wrong.... He found my newly acquired Azone Erena and was happily examining her (in her box, thankfully).


  1. Hehehe, that's so cute! (the bit about your son, not about the ranting "I dun play wif dolls" folk)

    On the note of your old post... it just makes me want to dress GI Joes in the glittery pink whore dresses that the playline Barbies have been sold in lately. It reminds me all of a photoshoot I saw long ago of Brad Pitt in a glittery dress... a whole comment on masculinity and comfort with it.

    I play with dolls (action figures, what-have-you) for the same reasons! I'm obsessed with things in miniature, they're a way to hold onto that child-like wonder for the world (aka, imagination) and on the same note, they're physical manifestations of characters that hang out in my head.

  2. Life is too short to be deterred from things that make you happy (as long as it's not at someone else's expense), if you want to "play with dolls" that's cool as far as I'm concerned.

    I have never allowed age or gender to impinge on my hobby, I enjoy collecting them, making clothes for them, dressing them, photographing them and using them to portray/tell a story. This is a hobby that allows us to use our imagination and keep the child within alive, as I see it, that's not a bad thing.