Friday, December 08, 2006

A Toy Story

(Cheating daw. Isang lumang article na sinulat ko nung 2001 habang bum pa ako.)

Last week, I pestered my mom into giving me an early birthday present in the form of a shiny red remote-controlled New Beetle. Nothing extravagant here. The red car, which costed surprisingly cheap (299.95PhP), gleamed with its glossy plastic body. Apparently, the China-made car based its composition from those 1/18 die-cast scale models which costs around 1500PhP, which, except for the orange lens headlights, somehow makes the car a near-exact replica of the real thing.

The controls, however were not that impressive- the car can only travel in a straight line, no steering. The only time you can make it change direction is when you engage it in reverse. This is when the front wheels veer to the right, making your car move backwards in an arc.

What really thrilled me about this RC (which is my first RC in 20 years, by the way) is the price tag. Despite its flaws, it was a decent-enough RC car for its price. Otherwise, I'd just sigh upon seeing it, and move to the next shelf. Yep, I spent the whole weekend driving the darn thing around the house, chasing our pesky cat. After all, given my current financial situation, this is the closest experience I'll ever have to owning and driving a real New Beetle.

It has been said that what differentiates men from the boys is the price of their toys. While the Y chromosome probably dictates the need for a plaything, a gadget, an instrument that basically becomes an extension of one's personality, the boundary of the male adult's and child's toys could be defined clearly a few years ago, with the former usually tinkering with a real car, a powerful computer,or a set of powertools, while the latter had his action figures, transformable robots, and friction-powered race cars. A few years ago, you would have laughed your head off at the idea of a 22-yr. old college graduate chasing his sister's pesky cat with his remote-controlled, shiny, red toy Bug.

The said boundary is blurred nowadays, thanks to hobbyists/collectors- the same bunch of people who never outgrew their old G.I. Joes and instead "volted-in" under one label to give their seemingly childish obsessions a tinge of "elitist" flavor. Proof of this blurred boundary is the quality of contemporary action figures which look more like artistic sculptures than toys, because of their fine and realistic details. The toy then appeals to children who worship the action figure's comic book/video game character persona, and to collectors who buy the toy for display in their own personal glass zoo.

The mini-4WD craze (otherwise known as "Tamiya") also shattered the idea of toys being just for small boys. I could still remember the variety of people swarming on these pocket rockets a year ago like a pack of wild hyenas around someone else's carcass. While I was not really into the mini-4WD craze, my kid brother was very enthusiastic about customizing his "Brocken". (My main concern then was how to graft a Toy Beetle body on a mini-4WD chassis.) On the afternoons I accompanied my brother to those mini racetracks, I was always simultaneously surprised and impressed with the unusual persons the sport attracted. Aside from little kids, there was this middle-aged woman customizing the gears of her small car, and a bunch of humongous men cheering their heavily-accessorized blue racer.

Yet perhaps the most amusing toy collector I've met would be fellow club member, and VWCP club historian Wilfredo Ruiz. Mang Dodi, a man in his mid-fifties, collects all sorts of VW memorabilia. Aside from postcards, posters, Herbie pocketbooks, VW literature, and VW cars, he also collects VW toys. He currently owns around 200 die-cast VW models, and more than 500 caricature/fancy VW toys. His toys also represent different VW models such as the Beetle, Concept 1, the Microbus, Karmann Ghia, Type 3, and some VW War Vehicles.

As for me, I am an avid toy collector. Perhaps I never really outgrew my old Matchbox and Lego cars. While most of my old toys have disappeared, I usually scrounge the toy section of department stores to look for VW cars, a rarity for some unknown reason. The top of my study table is piled up with different VW toy cars, from pull-back action bugs, friction motored cars, a bunch of small die-cast Beetles, and a styrofoam convertible Bug an artist friend carved up for me.

This fascination with toys does not end with VWs. A few years ago, I came across this brand new Optimus Prime toy for sale. It still had its original box, original stickers/decals, catalogs, and the instruction manual! There were still 6 Primes left but I only bought one. The original price was around 850Php, but since the toy was at sale at that time, I got mine for 679Php. When a friend told me how much these Primes costed at E-bay (and they were used, incomplete Optimus Primes at that!), I almost banged my head against the wall for not blowing what meager moolah I have saved to buy all of them.

I also have boxes of Gundam plastic models kept in their boxes like plastic mummies in cardboard sarcophagi, primarily because I don't have one of those glass shelves where I can display my robots without them being dust-gatherers. Ditto with my unassembled Tamiya (not the mini 4WD Tamiya!!!) model cars. There is also this need for an airbrush for I actually paint my scale models with an ordinary paintbrush- thankfully, without disastrous results, but the experience generates much stress, not to mention, an almost mediocre paintjob.

As for now, I could only dream of the things I would splurge my earnings on (aside from my VW) , if I find a stable job. Perhaps I would need a larger study table by then, not to mention, a larger room. Que sera sera.

But enough of chasing dreams! Today, I place my enthusiasm in a shiny red RC Bug, chasing a white cat like there's no tomorrow...


Blogger sniper said...

jol, babaguhin ko na blog ko.

'sniperspeaks' na. masyado kasi akong binabastos sa luma e.

i wonder why.

11:46 PM  

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