Monday, March 10, 2008

ZOID RAGE-surviving the intensely suckstalgic onslaught when memories attack

I was nine during Christmas of 1983 was when I got my first Zoids. They were a big deal for me that year because Star Wars got old and Transformers wasn't out yet. I was inbetween serious toylationships and looking for a good time and here they were-motorized robot dinosaur models. They were fantastic. I had two of them-the Tyrannosaurus looking one and the elephant looking one. My parents also got my younger sister the duck one. I don't think the first wave models had names but at nine years old it didn't matter. Mr. Tyrannosaurus, Mr. Elephant and Mr. Duck all worked good for me. I thought they were awesome with their little gold driver pilots. I guess they were the very first robot toys I ever loved. All that changed though and when I think about those Zoids now I feel like smashing my skull in with a sledgehammer. Nostalgia isn't just the warm fuzzy feelings I get from old toy robots-sometimes it cuts the other way, too.

I remember a couple days after Christmas I was playing with all three Zoids when my sister came in the room and noticed her duck Zoid was broken. I don't remember breaking it but a very important plastic piece was snapped off and he couldn't walk anymore. Then she started crying and she said, "Why do you always break my things! You always break my things!" I felt horrible and that memory has lived with me to this day. For some reason it didn't bother me much when I destroyed my own toys but seeing her all upset made me feel like I was some sort of robot duck killing monster.

Well 23 years later in 2006 those same three Zoids got rereleased in Japan in a big box set along with two other Zoids from 1983 and at first I was excited but I couldn't bring myself to order them. Every time I looked at Mr. Duck Zoid on that reissue box I just kept remembering my sister crying. Later in 1983 when commercials for the Omega Supreme of Zoids-the Giant Zrk-played on television constantly, I really wanted it but I knew I didn't deserve it after the assassination of Mr. Duck Zoid. Later on in life I used the martyrdom of Mr. Duck Zoid to convince myself that I didn't deserve nice things like lobster thermidor and hookers. It's been over twenty years! You'd think I could get over it and order something decent at Red Lobster, but it's like my brain likes to fuck me over constantly by bringing up Mr. Duck Zoid at the most inappropriate times.

Stuck living life with my Zoid albatross, I began wondering if I was the only one for whom nostalgia is a sort of rabid brain attacking chupacabra. Everyone else is always describing nostalgia as fond recollections of good old days. Why then does Mr. Duck Zoid set off an avalanche of disastrously sucky childhood memories? Why do others get nostalgia and I get some sort of suckstalgia? Well I've been reading an old article from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled Nostalgia: Content, Triggers, Functions and it turns out I'm not so alone. In fact, the paper kicks off by explaining that nostalgia the word is derived from two greek words , nostos (return) and algos (suck) and it literally means the suck you feel from wanting to go back. Nostalgia was regarded by people in the 17th and 18th centuries as a neurological fuckuppedness. Back then if you were nostalgic the doctors thought it meant something was wrong with your brain! And although doctors don't think that anymore, I think it still applies.

Glidoler? I never even knew her!
The paper explores what exactly nostalgia is and how it works. It finds that nostalgia is often triggered by a shitty mood. It's a response that's activated when a person is feeling down so that their brain can look back on happier times and try to feel good again. Nostalgia then is the refuge of a lonely and depressed mind. But why would my brain try to take me back to crappy times when I see or think about Mr. Duck Zoid? Why do old Zoids give me sudden urge to claw my eyes out with my thumbs? Maybe this isn't nostalgia I'm feeling at all but a new phenomenon that psychologists have yet to diagnose-Zoid Rage. I'm only up through the ninth page of the nineteen page paper so I don't have definite answers about Zoid Rage but it's starting to look like there are reasons for negative nostalgia. Maybe my mind needs an extremely negative experience from the past so that things now won't seem so bad by comparison. Maybe I don't really like hookers and lobster thermidor. Maybe my mind doesn't want to spend 90 bucks on a reissued box of five Zoids. Maybe I'm supposed to go to weddings and teach random guests that we must love all Zoids that JesusBabyJesus made, both great and small. But I doubt it.


Rob said...

I didn't know what Zoids were when I read the title of this blog entry. However, when I saw the picture of Mr. Duck Zoid, I was transported back to 1983. I had Mr. Duck Zoid and had completely forgotten all about it until just now. Wow. I remember the tiny driver now, too.

A piece broke off of my Mr. Duck Zoid shortly after I received it, just like what happened to your sister's. I still played with it, but a few years later, it ended up in the trash, along with my Strolling Bowling, Gridlock puzzle game, and Coleco Head to Head Basketball.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I had Gridlock! Except I think mine had green pieces. I totally forgot about that until now, too!

Thanks for the story about your Zoid. I've considered that maybe they were just crappily made toys and maybe I didn't have the death touch, but I broke so many other toys that it's hard to know whose fault it was.

Rob said...

I definitely wasn't rough with my toys, but my Megatron broke, the gun to my Optimus Prime snapped in half, and one of the ankles on my Omega Supreme cracked.

Of course, my GoBots and Rock Lords, which nobody cares about, remained in excellent condition.

Heavyarms said...

My little brother and I had all five of the zoids pictured in that reissue box set. I don't remember anything ab out them other than we had them and they had their teeny little gold pilots.

I never really got nostalgic over my toys until I recently got the GI Joe 25A Ace/Wild Weasel comic 2-pack. You see, Wild Weasel and the Cobra Rattler were my absolute favorite toys for the last half of the 80's. I always took care of my Joes, my brother didn't. One day he asked if he could use Weasel on his team (which always got their ass handed to them by my team), and I was in a magnanimous mood and let him. The next thing I know, Weasel is broken into that tell-tale trifecta of pieces that indicates a broken rubber band. We buried him in the backyard.

When I opened my new Wild Weasel, I got a little misty-eyed. Or was it overcome with blind rage? I forget.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I'm interested in how your brother turned out. Does he still collect stuff and does he feel bad about breaking his toys? Or did he leave it all behind and it doesn't really bother him?

Anonymous said...

Damn. Those Zoids must be mine for nostalgia's sake. I want a working Mr. Duck Zoid again. I may have to order that other set as well.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

You remember those? I have absolutely no memory of the guys in the Helic Memorial Box II. I guess they originally came out a little too close to when I was all Transformers crazy in '84.

What I really wish was that I'd gotten these reissue Zoids when they first came out back around June of '06. I think they retailed at $33 each box. That first box is now nearly impossible to find and is the only place I can find it online (but they want $90 including shipping).

Weasel said...

The only Zoids I remember were the ones that came out in the 90s. There was a "Pegasus" model which I kinda wanted but never had the money to drop on it. That and I royally suck at model building.

I can't say I really feel any nostalgia for any TF toys (didn't have many as a kid) except for the KMart Legends Bumblebee. He was the first TF I bought on my own, so there are a few memories attatched.

And never mention Blot around me. I accidentally broke the head off of Def's Blot years ago... and I still feel bad about it! (He was able to fix it, but I still feel like utter crap even to this day!)

Heavyarms said...

Oh sure, he feels bad about breaking his toys. Mine on the other hand...

He has a slight toy fetish, no where near where I'm at, though (mainly because he is more afraid of his wife than I am of mine.) I think he mentally scarred me and now I'm overcompensating and other such psycho-gobbledygook.

He's kind of stayed out of our little underworld of addiction, but Transformers Classics and the 25A GI Joes have kind of lured him back in.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Hey Lynn, did you know the Techno Zoids Evil Pegasus is the most sought after Zoid from that era? It consistently pulls over $200 whenever it's on eBay! The Techno Zoids came out just before I was living in Mississpi in '96. I remember seeing them at the Ocean Springs Wal-Mart but I only bought the Strikezilla. If I'd only known how coveted the Evil Pegasus would become I would have bought one when it was on clearance.


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