Sunday, February 01, 2009

THE EMPIRE BUYS IT NOW: The story of a boy, a girl, a galaxy, a couple of beanie hats and some mittens

My dad and I were watching Star Wars on VHS for the 38 millionth time during my last trip to Texas for the holidays. He considers those tapes family heirlooms that he wants passed onto my son once he's old enough. Usually family heirlooms would have some sort of legitimate historical value outside of just sentimentality, like suppose if my dad owned the super rare very first 1982 rental-only VHS version of Star Wars by Fox. Instead, my dad's copies are the VHS Special Editions released in '97. In pan and scan. Oh, and just Star Wars and Return of the Jedi get passed down. When I asked him why not Empire Strikes Back he said because that's the worst one-nothing happens in that one. I'm not going to make fun of my dad because god knows I treat 1984 like it's the goddamn tenth dimension, all mysterious and distant and wonderful, but I think therein lies the problem. We are the biggest bunch of overly sentimental, super nostalgic, Antiques Roadshow watching, old toy robots preserving losers on the planet. And I'm really hoping this crap isn't genetic.


Back in late October I bought my son some Transformers beanie and mittens sets on clearance at K-Mart for 6 bucks each. One had that Bumblebee guy from the new cartoon and the other had a really great design with big Autobot insignias all over and I really loved that one. Well while we were in Houston riding the city bus I lost the Bumblebee beanie hat. I left it on one of the buses and by the time I realized it was gone the bus was blocks away. I figured this was a good lesson in just letting go of attachments to things. I think on one of the DVD commentaries George Lucas said Anakin's problem was attachment-that he would not let go. I was not going to let the loss of that beanie turn me to the dark side, so I let go. I let it slide. Besides, going back to downtown Houston where the lost and found was would be like venturing to the village of the savage sandpeople just to rescue Bumblebee hat.

Well last weekend we were at the mall here in South Dakota visiting Gamestop and Hot Topic and all the other places geared towards 34 year old dads with one year old sons and just as we were leaving I realized the unthinkable had happened. Somewhere along the way I lost that beanie with the Autobot insignias. I was devastated. I backtracked as best I could along our path and revisited all the stores and the Hot Topic girl said maybe I could go to the lost and found in a few days and it would show up. But I knew it was gone forever. Nobody in their right mind would return such an awesome beanie hat. I was Anakin who had lost his Padme. I was Darth Vader who had lost his mind.


On the ride home I felt my anger boiling over. I had to do something. I had lost my favorite Autobot hat and K-Mart had run out of them a long time ago. What should I do? What could I do? And then it dawned on me that I could use this galaxy's equivalent of the force-eBay. Suddenly letting go seemed highly overrated. Using the force was all about recovering things you dropped in the snow, right? Should Luke have just resigned himself to his fate and got eaten by the Wampa? I understand letting go was important to George and Yoda, but when should we let go? I had lost my Padme. I had to use the force to get her back even if it cost me my soul. Or worse, Paypal fees.

So we went home and I knew I would get totally butt raped but I got on ebay and I found the Bumblebee set, the Autobot logo set and a third set I'd never seen before that looked pretty cool. I bought them all immediately for what ended up being $10 each. I was Yoda lifting the X-Wing out of the swamp, I was Superman flying backwards around the world. I know I should have just let go but I can't let go, Yoda, I can't let go. I know it was wrong and I set a really bad example for my son in light of all I think is bad about my dad's attachment to VHS copies of the Star Wars Special Editions. I do not want the legacy my son inherits to be this empire of materialistic sentimentality and couple hundred ebay feedback. Maybe one day he will redeem me. Hopefully it will not involve cutting off my hand.


agentmorris said...

Don't feel bad. I just spent 25 bucks, plus exchange rate fees on my credit card to own the first 35 episodes of M.A.S.K. on DVD. I had to get a Region 2 disc from the UK for it.

I know it has an awesome theme song and all, and I watched the hell out of it as a kid, but somehow I know it will be crappy to me now.

At least your son will have robot memories later, too.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Speaking of that K-Mart where I bought the hats, two weeks ago I found that Matt Trakker figure Hasbro put out and I grabbed it. That K-Mart has been really good to me. Hasbro's been pretty cool, too. I shouldn't have sold my Thunderhawk on eBay back in '02. Considering the scale I guess it doesn't matter, and there's bound to be a red '84 Camaro model I can fit that guy in somewhere. I was really excited to see Matt Tracker on the pegs again. Maybe Mattel will make a Jayce from Wheeled Warriors as part of that super expensive Masters of the Universe line they're doing.

agentmorris said...

MASK toys were awesome. I had a bunch when I was a kid. They were a damn sight cheaper than Transformers, so my Mom would buy them for me all the time.

Your Thunderhawk idea indeed holds merit. I think you could even figure a way to make decals to reproduce those 80s-rrific graphics on the side.

I also loved Wheeled Warriors, both the show and the toys. I only had a couple, one was a Lightning League and the other a Monster Mind. I would so buy those now.

deadbeat Senna said...

You are yoda's secret emo apprentice. Hey did you ever get FOrce Unleashed? Target had it for $40 at the end of the year then last week it was buy two PS3 games get one free. Thay have Transformers PS3 for $20 now.

sean said...

I know what you're saying here, I'm guilty of everything you were talking about in your article. Through eBay I bought a lot of toys that I've lost over the years when the sad thing is I could probably find most of the stuff that I thought was lost if I just had the patience and willpower to go through all the old boxes in my dad's garage and barn. eBay really is a terrible roadblock on our paths to letting go of the stuff we lost in our pasts.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Ack! I read that last sentence as "...the stuff we lost in our pants" and I got confused!

No, DS, I still don't have the TFU game but speaking of Target and Force Unleashed, when I was driving through Colorado last month right next to that dead TRU was a Target. They had the three pack Star Wars Evolutions TFU set with Darth Vader's secret apprentice! I missed it the first time because I didn't know I wanted it and then it disappeared from the shelves in TFU packaging. I'd heard it came out in Clone Wars white box packaging but I never saw it, and then I found it at that Target! I thought it had passed me by because it was supposed to be shortpacked in the first wave of white box evolutions sets that stopped shipping a long time ago. I'd never seen before and I haven't seen it since. 20 something bucks was a lot but I really wanted it. I should have checked ebay. It's probably $5 there.

deadbeat Senna said...

this is turning into one of those "LOOK WHAT I GOT AT TARGET" blogs!


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.