Toy Story

Toys are awesome. I don’t mean the adult variety (although they’re pretty fun too); I’m talking about the likes of Lego, Action Man, Scalextric and Mighty Max. As a child, my main interests in life were computer games, toys, dinosaurs and pretending to be Captain Scarlet. I lost count of the times I’d hurl myself off my slide claiming that I was indestructible but as I grew up – ok, wrong turn of phrase – as I grew older, it became less and less socially acceptable to wear a Spectrum uniform while jumping off the front porch.

I even had the beard when I was 5

When I hit my early teens, I discovered good music and pornography, although not at the same time – 70’s bass grooves don’t really cut it in the world of quality compositions. My interests veered violently towards musical instruments and women, but the love of computer games stayed. I stopped playing with action figures and Hot Wheels but the household’s Kleenex consumption mysteriously shot through the roof. The stacks of toys were swapped with guitars, amps and keyboards and the Captain Scarlet costume got replaced by DC trainers, baggy jeans and band t-shirts. With every new hair I found on my body, I became one step closer to manhood and men don’t play with toys! By the time I reached 16, I had facial hair and a job. I wasn’t just a teenager anymore, I was a young adult and my interests changed appropriately. Trying to find an off-licence that would allow ‘having a beard’ as an acceptable form of ID became my number one pastime, although trying (and failing) to lose my virginity was a close second.

In 2006, I turned 18. I was old enough to buy porn, drink alcohol, drive, smoke and vote. I was officially a man in the eyes of the government but the inner child in me still made a sticky mess of excitement as soon as I heard the news that Michael Bay and Stephen Spielberg were joining forces to release a big budget, live action version of one of my favourite franchises, Transformers in the summer of 2007. Inevitably the run up to the film’s release saw all sorts of merchandise being released – from alarm clocks to wallpaper Hasbro’s robots in disguise were plastered everywhere, especially toys. By the Christmas of 2006, every toy shop and department store in town had shiny new Transformers movie figurines, including the 1976 Chevy Camaro Bumblebee toy. “Surely one toy wont hurt”, I said to myself…

A "collectible figurine" is for life, not just for christmas... Or dodgy afternoons with the camera trying to re-enact the Zammo break-up scene from Grange Hill

I’m 22 now and my room is littered with toys – or if I’m feeling a little self conscious, ‘collectible figurines’. My life has turned a full circle and I’m only mid-middle aged. Zidane of Final Fantasy IX fame slow dances with a heavy walker from Red Faction: Guerrilla, Solid Snake stalks a Halo 3 Hunter on my bookshelf and Marcus Phoenix expertly chainsaws a locust grub on my DVD stand while Street Fighter’s Ryu is busy shouting “hadouken!” at a stuffed cat on my wardrobe. My collecting frenzy never stopped at toys either, my bedroom is littered with other gaming paraphernalia from free gifts in magazines like my Hyrulian emblem badge and Mario Bros. “?” money box through to more valuable items like my £70 Street Fighter IV arcade stick but the most prized possession in the collection is my ArtFX Devil May Cry 3 Dante figurine. £50 of unarticulated, hand painted, dust collecting loveliness taking pride of place at the entrance of my room.

Are any of these items in their original boxes? Are they bollocks, how can you turn Bumblebee from a Camaro into a kick ass fighting machine if he’s still cable tied to a cardboard sheet? How can you admire the sheer detail put into Dante’s leather coat through a plastic viewing hole? The answer to both of the questions is you can’t. These are toys and things of beauty. Things that need to be held, examined and played with to be appreciated, not left in a box to give my grandchildren some inheritance money. Sure I’ve kept the packaging for some items like my arcade stick and Dante statue because the box art is almost as interesting as the memorabilia itself but buying a toy and not playing with it is like buying an oven and not cooking a Sunday roast in it.

Last five articles by Iain



  1. Samuel The Preacher says:

    Welcome back, man. We missed you. Great article, but also welcome back to the world of toys. I never actually left. I’ve never stopped playing with plastic lightsabers, and my room has ever been full of toys. I’ve got about 8 shelves of Star Wars action fleet micro-machines, another two shelves of the action figures Hasbro made, various lightsabers, three massive starship models (one an Imperial Mark II Star Destroyer and the other two different versions of the original Starship Enterprise). I have a shelf full of die-cast replicas of classic fighter planes. A shelf full of Transformers (though none of that new shit, apart from the Star Wars Transformers; Michael Bay can go eat a dick for what he did to the franchise). Batman, Wolverine and Iron Man statues. Lord of the Rings statues. A big old ice dragon figure, hand-painted and sitting on top of a crystal. A very valuable old 1960s era Hornby Flying Scotsman in mint condition that I inherited from my great grandad. A big box of LEGO and Kinex. And more gaming accessories and models than you can shake a stick at, from Street Fighter IV figurines and my Altair and Ezio figures, to a Fallout 3 pipboy alarm clock, lightguns, specialised control pads, flight yokes, steering wheels, games soundtracks, old official Nintendo magazines and the coup de grace; that £150 limited edition Tournament Edition arcade fightstick. None of it in its packaging, apart from the fightstick when I’m not using it. I kept the boxes, but why I don’t actually know when I have no intention of selling this stuff and like you I want my stuff out where I can see and touch it.

    The difference with toys and girls, the way I looked at it, was that your toys only yelled at you and broke up with you if you were loony tunes, they cost equally stupid amounts of money, and if you broke a girl that was your whole life fucked up, rather than just your afternoon.

    Though lately I wouldn’t mind adding a female companion to the collection… the only conditions would be she’d need to be just as passionate about games and toy collecting as I am, and she’d definitely not be staying in her packaging, heh.

  2. Pete says:

    Middle aged at 22? Jeez I feel old now lol

    I’m fast approaching 40 and have 2 Scalextric sets less than 18 months old ;) I’d buy Star Wars Lego too given jalf the chance lol

  3. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    He said mid-middle aged you old git :D

    I don’t really have many gaming toys, or movie toys for that matter… they tend not to produce awesome memorabilia for the movies I like, except for Nightmare Before Christmas but they went a bit overboard on that one by shoving Jack Skellington’s face on pretty much anything that had more than a square inch of available space. Tote bags, slippers, laces, and I’m pretty sure you can get NMBC loo paper and condoms if you look on eBay long enough.

    I used to have more though, like Mars Attacks and Army of Darkness, but I think I only have a couple of Star Wars figurines left from all that lot. My Sword Of The Hessian from Sleepy Hollow isn’t a toy (neither is my projector… excuse the in-joke!) and Fred’s far from being a toy but I’m sure that most people would see them that way as they don’t understand passion beyond painting their face and wearing flags to go to football matches.

  4. Ben Ben says:

    I take Jnr to Toys R Us, it’s partly for him but just as much for me. Have you seen the Lego they have on offer now? Indiana Jones, Toy Story, and even Halo – none of that when I was younger, I had to make do with a home made TMNT sewer system as made by Blue Peter.

    Absolute quality headline graphic by the way :D

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    More than a few times when we were moving into our last place and had our gear scattered over the living areas while workmen were in, we were asked ‘do we have kids’. ‘No, why?’ was our perplexed answer, to which they would always point at the various board games such as Spiderman Monopoly, the Scalextric, remote controlled cars, lego bucket, etc. ‘No, they’re ours’ would usually be met with a blank stare. People’s rigid expectations and blind adherence to stereotypes irritates the fuck out of me sometimes with assumptions like that.

    We’ve always had toys and games and ‘collectables’ and doubt that it will ever change. Aside from my gaming box sets, I have a plushie Tom Nook, various Pikmin, and other miscellaneous debris. While it would be handy to have a kid as an excuse to raid Toys R Us, we rarely care much anymore. I do fancy that Indy Lego though…seriously. :) Last time we were there, I got some great snaps of dad and Mark both playing on the kiddie bikes in the display ;)

  6. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Wasn’t your dad also wearing a Chewbacca mask??

  7. Greg Greg says:

    Man, I love toys and I always have. It used to cause a LOT of problems with my ex, who was absolutely ashamed and embarassed of my tendency to wander off into the toy section of any shop I happened to be in. Fortunately my wife (still getting used to using that word!) is totally fine with it – as she constantly says, she doesn’t need kids as she has me :D

    People can fuck off with this attitude that you should ‘grow up’ and ‘stop playing with toys’. Everyone has their toys – whether its a shiny black penis extension of a sports car, or a new kitchen or whatever. The difference is that my toys are actual toys that cost considerably less and get bought out of love rather than to keep u with the joneses/make women believe that my penis is bigger than it is (for the record ladies, its plenty big enough ;))

  8. MrCuddleswick says:

    I have toy envy. I want Iain’s desk.

  9. Samuel The Preacher says:

    A plushie Tom Nook, Lorna? Bloody hell, you’d bring an effigy of that evil little raccoon swine into your house? Willingly? Madness!

    Just you wait. That plushie will have you out in the back garden digging up crap at a ridiculous rate of exchange in return for upgrading your house.

  10. Lee says:

    toys!!!! i love toys, ive got 2 master chiefs, arby, warthog, sergent johnson, brute chieften, stingray, a big daddy, markus, cole train, head shot locust, issac from dead space, buzz lightyear, lego batman, 20th ann optimus prime, the tumbler two star ship enterprises and my halo legendary edition. all in good nick except the warthog it lost a fight with the tumbler. all in just my living room and ive got boxes of other like stuff upstairs.

    can you tell I live on my own?

  11. Ben Ben says:

    You don’t live on your own Lee, you live with lots of 1/16th size people :)

  12. Rook says:

    Funny article as always Pixel.

    You still ask the women if they want to play with your Captain Scarlet don’t you?

  13. Adam Adam says:

    I’ve lived in a tiny box room and subsequently, a fridge over the past 2 years and so I’ve missed out on the luxury of having room to actually put stuff anywhere (we’ll avoid discussing how I’ve not the money to actually buy any of it anyway). That said, I’ve still got a handful of statues and figures knocking around. Theres Marvin staring out from underneath my chefs cap at the top of my wardrobe, an NX01 and a New style NCC-1701. Theres my ForceFX Saber, Mr Worf and Shaun (of the dead) and a stack of Lego everywhere (my faveorite is my Chuck Norris vs. Segal stand off on a standard green brick).

    I’m moving in a month and I’m already planning where these can all go. Most of them suffer the same fate as Marvin at the minute and don’t get to see much Sunlight but with more space I’ll finally be able to at least wish I could buy stuff :D

    No lady could tell me otherwise and I wouldn’t give them the time of day in the first instance. I envy not those in relationships but I do envy those such as MarkuZ and Sketch that have a very beautfiful thing going on in being able to share and enjoy each others passion.

    Major Kudos Iain!

    …and even more Kudos for not being one that keeps them boxed up on the shelf. Much Love!

  14. Kat says:

    Loved this article and the images ^_^

    I really have to try and resist buying toys. I’ve been eyeing up the Ratchet and Clank figures and will probably cave and get them. Somewhere I have a Crow figure but he’s gone walkies and Cuddles got me the coolest Medieval Ash for my bday who’s currently lording it up on my bookshelf. Mark and Lorna got me a toy too ;)

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