In his keynote talk at the 2006 EMPA PhD Symposium, 1991 Nobel Chemistry winner Richard Ernst said that if you want your children to grow up with a creative mind, then they should grow up in an old house full of rooms to explore filled with things to discover. It’s cool that my parents still live in the house that I grew up in. Cool because when I come to visit, as I did over Thanksgiving 2006. I can walk the paths I used to follow and explore perspective, the contrast between where I was and where I am. Part of the reason that I am as I am is due to the toys I grew up with. Just as most of my clothes came from second hand stores, probably 90% of my toys were procured from the half-off bins and church rummage sales. This meant that I had at least three times as many toys as anyone else I knew. And while I had a plethora of the standard Legos, I also had a lot of G.I. Joes, Star Wars, as well as random things most Michigan kids had never heard of, like Playmobil.
My walk down contrast lane lead to me photographing various toys, still sitting on shelves in my room and haunting the shadows of the basement.
First, I should say that while much spunk is made about violence in toys and on TV, it’s a sad pathetic short-cut in thinking to say that these things directly lead to violent children. Because by all accounts, if you really look at what I grew up with, I should, by that logic, be some sort of CIA mercenary. While the thought did cross my mind once or twice, I must have just gotten it all out of my system playing with "toys" like a belt of dummy .50 caliber machine gun ammunition.
Star Wars toys just look cool, you can replay every scene from the movies and make up storylines that include G.I. Joe. Or you can mix the Star Wars miniatures with the Vietnam era plastic warriors that are driving a WWII era German truck.
And who didn’t want plastic army guys to fight miniature wooly mammoths while getting accosted by Muscle Men?
My room is an interesting place, because it’s present form was set up after college. The alcohol influence is apprent, and fits quite well with the childhood day dreams. She Ra was always hot, and standing in front of an empty Jim Beam bottle she just drives Hawk Eye (from Mash) crazy. Probably the reason he was laying back in the Beam shot glass.
I don’t know the connection between Superman and Papa Smurf, but Ernie seemed to be inciting a confrontation between the Japanese super hero dudes and their tiny monster.
For some reason the Flash was sitting in a shot glass and my teddy bear was chilling beside a tank that used to be commanded by my 1967 vintage 12 inch G.I. Joe.
In the end the Rancor hooked up with Barbie, she was turned on by the soft side of the beast inside.
Two of my most influential virutal role models were also represented, the cool headed badass Yoda sits atop a copy of Hell’s Angels, written by the eternal Gonzo demon, Huter S. Thompson.