When I was a kid, He-Man was my obsession. I asked for the toys for birthdays and Christmas. I watched the cartoon show. I begged my parents until they bought me a subscription to the He-Man magazine. (It had stories, games, and a pull out centerfold poster in every issue!) Basically, He-Man was my whole world. I had a few G.I. Joe figures too. Some Go-Bots and a couple of Transformers. But mostly it was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
And, nearly 40 years later, I still have most of them, including weapons and accessories. There are a few that have been lost over the years. Someone made off with all of my Snake Men and the Battle Bones carrier that held them. My Castle Grayskull and Evil Horde Slime Pit also disappeared from my storage at some point – carried off, no doubt, by the bored neighborhood children who enjoyed breaking into my trailer while I was out of town.
But I have far more of my old toys than most men my age – much to the annoyance of Nicole, I’m sure, who tolerates my pack rat ways only because she loves me in spite of them. I have a few theories about why I’ve held onto this stuff for so long, none of which paint a very flattering picture of me. But I think the main reason is that, though we were far from destitute – I don’t remember ever going hungry as a child – we weren’t a wealthy family. We were a working class family with one income, and while I had cousins and friends who got new toys every time their family went to the store, we only got new toys twice a year, on Christmas and on birthdays. Because of this, my toys meant a lot to me, and I took care of them.
I took such good care of them that I not only still have my Masters of the Universe figures, and their weapons and gear, I have the original mini comic books that came with each and every figure.
And now, I get to share them all with my son.
He’s only three-years-old, and he has no idea who He-Man really is, or what he meant to his daddy as a child. But he’s absolutely fascinated by the carrying cases full of figures I have stored in my closet. I’ve let him play with a few of them and he’s particularly drawn to two of my favorites, the iron toothed villain Trap Jaw and the winged bee man hero Buzz-Off. And while Buzz-Off’s hat was lost long ago, I somehow still have Trap Jaw’s utility belt and most of his prosthetic hand attachments.
So, this weekend I did something that’s mostly for him, but also a little for me. I used some credit card points I’d been saving and ordered him his own He-Man, Skeletor, and Battle Cat from the newest Masters of the Universe toy line. His own Buzz-Off and Trap Jaw figures are next in line, but adult collectors – apparently hungry for the same nostalgia that kept me holding onto my old figures – have been snatching up toys in this new “Origins” line as quickly as Mattel can release them.
Still, I’m looking forward to seeing his reaction when we get the boxes with these figures of his very own. And to sitting down to play (I’ll be Skeletor so he can be the hero, of course), and sharing something with him that had such a profound impact on me as a child.
He won’t understand how much this all means to me – he’s a toddler after all, that kind of thing shouldn’t be on his radar. But someday, perhaps, he’ll remember, and understand. He’s already brought so much more joy into my life than I ever thought was possible. I can only do my best to return the favor and give him a childhood worthy of its own future nostalgia.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at email@example.com