Action figures are Barbie dolls for boys. Its true. Took me 36 years to figure this out, but the fact is inescapable. I am father to a three year old girl. I play lots of dollhouse. I also play baby doll, Barbie dress up, and, staring today, Tinker Bell-Iridesca Flight School Sparkle.
Funny thing is, I don’t really mind all that much. Probably because I spent the formative years of my childhood playing with Star Wars “action” figures. I don’t want to underestimate the significance of the word “action”. My Star Wars guys were always getting maimed in freak explosions, laser gun battles, and light saber duels. They were always falling, climbing, running, flying and diving. They were forever rescuing and saving.
But, let’s admit it, they were also dressing up, pretending, walking around looking pretty.
Never really thought much about it until yesterday. I’m off two weeks for Christmas and so I’ve been playing a bit more dollhouse than usual. Getting a bit tired of it, actually. The doll house people are forever climbing stairs, having parties, taking baths, cooking, and pooping. I mean, let’s get real.
Yesterday, my mother gave me a very nice present for Christmas. A collection of Star Wars figures she found at a yard sale all gathered together in the generic Star Battles carry case just like the one I had when I was a kid. So, I got this collection of 14 or so “action figures” as a grown man and immediately the gee whiz, oh wow part of my psyche starts firing off. I’m transported immediately back to a place in my childhood that I’ve never really left behind. I just carry it around with me secretly where (I hope) no one can see.
So I get these dolls, I mean “action” figures and I start wondering what kind of fun Emersey and I can have playing with them together. I’m wondering what it would be like for Luke to crash the doll house party. For Darth Vader to cook dinner. For Chewbacca to take a bathe, and maybe, just maybe, if his long legs will allow, sit on the tiny little dollhouse toilet.
That would be terrific.
And then tonight, I’m flying Tinker Bell fairies around the house with Emersey and thinking about the Barbie dolls still in their packaging and I’m wondering what kind of a pop cultural mash-up is possible here. I’m no longer thinking about it as doll house, you see. I’m thinking, how can Emersey and I use all of this stuff to make a really interesting story? And once I start thinking about the Star Wars, Tinker Bell, Little People, Barbie mash-up, I can’t help but get a little bit interested in what’s going to happen.
So all of this is going on and I’m realizing that I’ve left behind the requirement that there be explosions, laser battles and light saber duels. I’m okay if Tinker Bell and C3P0 want to play dress up. Where’s the harm if Boba Fett and Dora the Explorer have a spot of tea?
Maybe it is a sign of my advanced age. Perhaps it is a new level in my personal evolution. Can’t say for sure. Just can’t pretend any longer that my action figures are something they actually are not.
Action figures are Barbie dolls for boys.