The other day I asked my then five year-old son to pick up his Iron Man doll. He emphatically corrected me, “It is not a doll mom. It is an action figure.”
Duly noted son. Duly noted. 🙂
The twins turned six years-old yesterday.
I’m not going to get caught up in the whoosh of time. Instead, I really like what my friend Brittany wrote here.
Anyway, just two or three years ago that same action-figure wielding child toted around, ‘Bobbies’ (or ‘Natasha the angry Russian baby,’ as my husband ‘affectionately’ refers to her).
You be the judge.
Bobbies was born in Virginia. We were at my parents’ house visiting and my son glommed on to a little baby doll my mom had for the grandchildren to play with. After he carried it around for days, we concluded he needed a baby doll of his own. So, we ventured to Wal-mart to find one.
I discovered the perfect doll at the perfect price. Actually, ten or twenty of them.
There was a bin full of dolls with the roll-back price of $5 each. They all looked about the same, except for the little embroidery image on their built-in body onesie. I pulled one after the other out and paraded each one in front of my son, who was buckled into the double stroller. I oohed as I showed each one to him.
The twins were barely 18 months old and my oldest was three.
My son swiftly rejected each and every one.
Unbeknownst to me, there on the bottom shelf sat ‘Bobbies’ surrounded by her giant vessel of a box to which she was securely tethered.
He spoke in her direction, pointing. Insisting. I kept parading pink bodied dolls whose plastic arms and legs emerged harshly from the onesie/body.
While I was still standing there with several $5 dolls in my clutches and was trying to decide between the one with a bee or one of the ones with flowers, my Mom (who obviously was paying more attention than me) said, “I think he wants that one.” as she pointed to the bottom shelf.
I looked down and there she was: a giant baby doll, who would become the one and only Bobbies. The next thing we knew my son had his arms wrapped around her neck with the box still attached, covering almost his entire body, and we were headed to the check out.
That is where it all began.
Bobbies went everywhere with us for years. Her name originated from his word for ‘baby.’
Bobbies caused us a lot of trouble over those years. One time she went missing for 24 hours, which was quite a trying time. But, worse yet, because she looked so real, we were often chastised or gasped at when people would see us carrying her by the leg or arm. One time I handed her to my son on a playground and a woman gasped and said, “Oh my gosh! I thought you just handed your baaaaby to your baaaaby!” Followed by nervous laughter.
Another time a woman swept up behind me in a crosswalk with her arms outstretched to grab Bobbies from my hand. I was holding all three of my children’s hands and had Bobbies by the leg. The woman quickly laughed off her mistake, as most did.
But, there was the time at the strawberry patch, where my husband was berated by a woman a few rows over. She advanced in his direction and screamed at him, “YOU CANNOT HOLD AN INFANT LIKE THAT!” Repeating herself as she advanced upon him with purpose.
Ahem. Oops. I don’t suppose I can blame her.
The other day a friend asked me about Bobbies.
“Where is Bobbies these days?” she lovingly inquired. I was puzzled myself and felt for a moment I had lost track of one of my own children.
Baby dolls to action figures. Whoosh.
My oldest is reading beyond his comprehension, is doing science experiments, and inventing and engineering things on pencil and paper. He is contriving ideas and planning for his future as an inventor, who will solve world problems and make money of course. The twins are learning to read, perfecting their coloring, making new friends, growing independence and writing stories of their own.
Everyone is happy with the opportunities that lay in front of them and I am happy for them. I love seeing where they are, reflecting fondly upon where they have been and thinking about where they will go.
I do get a little sad when I think about Bobbies – once the object of affection – now cast aside to make way for action figures.
Over the years, a part of Bobbies came alive to me because of the animate fondness my son had for her. And, of course, I have been known to personify things from time to time.
I told my friend that Bobbies was no longer at the forefront of my son’s affection and that I wasn’t exactly sure where she was. “Somewhere in their room.” I said. “Maybe in his bed?” It turns out she was lying in the floor beside the dresser.
I followed-up, saying that I will have to find a special box when the time comes, so that I can keep her safe and bring her back out when my son is older.
Oh, if only Bobbies could talk. The stories she could tell and the love she could share. It was a love like no other.
And, for me? While I still gasp a little when I see pictures from years ago, I agree with what my friend Brittany says,
“I’d rather enjoy each day and celebrate each turning page than lament about sand slipping through an hourglass.”
The passage of time, or the Bobbies shift, simply moved other things to the side to make way for new things. Incredible things.
Plus, the sand can slip all it wants. I will still have Bobbies, frozen in time. And, all of the pictures and memories of course. 🙂
Happy birthday to my babies. Here is to the new season!
Journey on! XO, Melissa
The History of the Action Figure
Action Figures haven’t been around that long. Certainly not as long as the baby doll. No one tell Bobbies that.
In 1964 Hasbro coined the term “action figure” to market their G.I. Joe figure to boys, who would not play with dolls. G.I. Joe was a military-themed figure. Production evolved and Hasbro licensed the product to other markets.
In 1971 Mego began the production of Marvel and DC Comic superhero action figures. They were highly successful and many are still collectible today, but Mego lost the corner on the market when they didn’t get the license to produces the Star Wars figures.
The 80’s brought forth numerous action figure lines, many of which were based on cartoon series. Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe and Super Powers Collection are a few of the most successful of the time. In 1984 Hasbro licensed a Japanese line to make transforming cars, or Transformers.
More and more collectors started buying up the toys, leaving them to smother in their original packaging hoping to have a future collectible. The action figure toy market was flooded. In the late 80’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures were produced in such great numbers that most of them would never have a value higher than a few dollars.
Today, collectors still flock to the action figures and so do the children!
And, in our household, our action figures will never be left tethered inside a box to smother. They will be freed to fulfill their purpose, which is to fight villains and fly and leap through the air in the hand of a child.