Friday, November 16, 2007

Ebay magic

"Send more Japs."
Through the magic of Ebay, I shed 44 years recently. With the flick of a finger on my keyboard, I became an eleven year-old again, earnestly fighting for world order.

I successfully bid on a 1963 Marx 6-inch Russian WW2 toy plastic soldier, lime green and wearing a very cool Cossack fur lined hat with the ear flaps up. He also has on killer leather boots.

He's got his rifle raised over his head, and he's about to use the butt-end of it to knock some Nazi bastard into next week. (Shouldn't he be using the business end to do this? But maybe he's out of ammo. Still, he's carrying 4 pouches (8 clips) on his belt. Maybe it's late in the day after an intense firefight on the steppes. Oh, never mind!)

This purchase transported me back to my bedroom in 1963. The Louis Marx Toy Company sold these giant toy plastic soldiers in the dimestores back then, probably at about 49 cents each. The Germans were grey, the Americans were olive drab, the Japanese (can I say Japs? That's what we called them back then) were tan and the Russians were green. There were six figures in each group, a platoon for each nationality.

I guess the Russian platoon fought the German platoon, and the American platoon (Marines) fought the Japanese platoon. I don't know where the hell the U.S. Army was. Maybe they hadn't landed in Normandy yet.

There were other 6-inch groups of six. Monsters. (They were blue; the mummy, wolfman, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, the creature from the Black Lagoon and ... I forget the sixth. Maybe the Hunchback. Can I say that?) Cavemen. (They were orange, wielding sticks and hurling rocks. Can that be depicted now?) Frontier men. (They were tan and charging with knives drawn.) Cowboys. (They were tan and in various poses of TV westerns.) Native Americans. (Could I have said Indians? That's what we called them back then.)

I had one of each. That amounted to a lot of figures. I also had about a half dozen spring-loaded toy replica .45 automatic pistols. (Back in those days, they didn't put bright orange nubs on the end of the barrels of toy pistols.) These cost about 1.99 each at the dimestore, and each one came with six rubber-tipped suction darts. They were pretty accurate up to about 14 feet.

I'd set up my 6-inch figures around my bedroom, spread out across the room and advancing upon me. I'd have my position by the bed, and they'd be on the window ledge under the curtain, over by the bookcase shielded by the Landmark books, atop my dresser hiding behind the cuff link box, across the floor in a wide swath, all of them coming for me. The march of the 6-inch Marx army. Germans, Russians, Marines, cavemen, cowboys.

"On ne passe pas."
I was Horatio at the bridge. The veneer of civilisation is very thin.

To heighten the effect, I'd close the curtains and turn out the lights. In the darkness all I had were my six pistols, 36 darts, and a flashlight.

The monsters were easy to hit and knock over because they tended to be bigger and unstable. The soldiers were harder to fell since I placed them under cover better. After one round, I'd turn on the lights, reposition the remaining figures closer and go at it again. Think of the Decider a few years ago telling the world, "Bring 'em on!" when questioned about lingering resistance in Iraq after his phony "Mission Accomplished!" photo op. But my subsequent round went a lot better than his.

I know I won several of these battles. I don't remember if I lost any. I think it was like in dreams, if you're about to get killed, you just wake up.

I can't wait for my 6-inch Russian soldier to arrive. I like shedding four decades. I'm going to put him on the shelf in son number two's bedroom. He's been absent and unheard from since 2003, but that's another story.


jeanne said...

why can't we play more as grownups? this little scenario really took me back--back to my easy-bake-oven and my 45s and american bandstand and ... playing.

playing is good!

Petraruns said...

I agree with Jeanne - play is great! It makes me think of George Sheehan's running as playing idea - it's a great way to think about it..

I've just been playing with my son's lego for an hour after he went to bed when I was meant to be putting it away....

ShirleyPerly said...

Sounds like fun!! I think it's important to play and probably most of us don't take enough time out to do so in our busy lives. Thanks for your comment on my race report.

Just12Finish said...

Oh yeah, I had 'em too. GI's and Germans, olive green and gray. Lined them all up with tanks and stuff and shot them down with a pellet gun.