Tag Archives: toys

Wordless Christmas Post

tree time_ginger

This is a wordless Christmas post.

Oops!  I shouldn’t have explained.  Okay, a six-word Christmas post.

Wait a minute, I didn’t count those words…

Seventeen words, then… urm… Twenty-seven… Twenty-nine… Is a hyphenated compound two words or one?  Dang it!

Okay… a too-many words Christmas post.

Have another picture to look at while I sort this out.



Filed under humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Supergirl (Another Review from the Uncritical Critic)

20151029_124840I watched the new Supergirl TV show on CBS via the internet, and I have to say… Wow!  Now, I am not that big of a Supergirl fan.  The comic book from my overly-massive comic book collection from 40-plus years of being a juvenile reader at heart is the only example I can find to illustrate Supergirl.  And I only own that one because my eldest son wanted it at age 11 because of the bare-midriff dress in the cover illustration.  I have never been all that fixated on Kara Jor-El’s belly button myself.  But don’t get me started on a discussion of superhero babes with bare body parts in comics… well, because I will end up telling you things about myself I really don’t want you to know.  But I do know enough of the Superman mythos to appreciate what the TV show has done with this character.


Superman himself has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  I remember him in black-and-white as George Reeves from the time I was first allowed to pick TV shows for myself.

So, I watched this Supergirl show last night in spite of the fact that critics I have read basically hated it.  I don’t actually understand their disdain.  It had everything I love about comic books.  The characters were simply drawn and two-dimensional, which is exactly what a comic book character should be.  Kara was given a back-story that matches the comic book mythos quite well, and yet, other characters like Jimmy Olsen and her adopted sister are clearly innovative and new.  The villain was life-and-death terrible in the way that comic book villains are supposed to be.  He even died at the end of the episode as comic book villains are supposed to do in order to surprise us when they come back to life as comic book villains always do sooner or later.  Everyone seems to love the CW’s newest version of The Flash on TV because it has that distinctive funny/violent comic book bravado about it.  So why didn’t they see the same thing in this new show?  I think, with time, this new show will prove them wrong.  I like the lost-little-girl-turned-superhero story presented in this first episode.  I went in expecting not to like it, and was bedazzled and befuddled and be-everythinged  that you want this kind of show to do to you.


I will not try to tell you that you should watch the show.  If you are comic-book nutty like I am, you have probably already seen this show, and nothing I could say or do would have a ghost of a chance of keeping you away from it, if that was what I wanted to accomplish.  And I know that many people hate this kind of thing with a passion.  But, being honest here… something I am sure you are aware I rarely ever intentionally do… I want you to watch it so it will become popular and stay on the air.  After all, a TV show like this will generate more dolls and toys to collect.  Ta-ta-ta- TAAAH!!!


Filed under humor, Supergirl, TV review


A new doll bought to combat depression.  Part of a collection of Tinkerbell fairy dolls.

A new doll bought to combat depression. Part of a collection of Tinkerbell fairy dolls.

I have basically written an awful awful lot about my toys.  (The awful is repeated on purpose because I have been having a really awful time this week for reasons I will post about if I survive them).  And there is a reason a retired old man who seems to be rotting away into a second childhood is so obsessed with toys.  Playing is my primary goal for every day right now because darkness is closing in and, while play for children is practice for life in the future, play for an old man can be the reanimation of all the good things in life.

A Lego steam engine and a 1000-piece puzzle that my wife bought me to cheer me up.

A Lego steam engine and a 1000-piece puzzle that my wife bought me to cheer me up.

I have been a toy-maker and a toy-restorer as a part of my over-all quest to be an artist.  I even made some money with an online e-Bay store where I sold collectibles and restored toys.  I bought toys from Goodwill and re-sale stores, repaired them and cleaned them, and sold them for twice the sum I bought them for.  I also made a few porcelain dolls in a kiln I bought in the 1990’s when my mother and I became porcelain doll-makers.  I would show you some of my babies, but the real live children have managed to break all the dolls except for a couple my mother made.  (Well, toys are made to be played with, right?)  But I do still have many of the repaired and cleaned toys that I either didn’t sell or couldn’t bring myself to part with.

Toys in every corner of the house, dang it!

Toys in every corner of the house, dang it!

I have also been a model railroader since childhood, spending countless hours building tunnels and repainting rolling stock, and making buildings and scenery from kits and plaster.  I haven’t rebuilt my layout since moving north away from South Texas, but maybe I will get to that too in my retirement and second childhood.

I do still have some trolley street scenes on the tops of book cases.



And toys serve as memory objects.  They can do magic with time and space.  I have saved many of my toys from childhood.  Toys were precious and mostly Christmas and birthday gifts.  I learned to save and salvage them because they treated me well, and… well, I owed them the same in return.  My own children were not like that.  They loved toys to pieces and even sometimes ate them, to a point where many of them were un-fixable junk.  But toys bring things back to life from the long-gone past.  Take for instance the toy in this next picture;


No, I don’t mean the baby doll.  He grew up and joined the Marine Corps.  I mean the stuffed white tiger in the background. That was the first toy I ever bought for baby Dorin.  And it is still with us, though not as fluffy and pretty as it was in the picture.  My daughter, the Princess, inherited it and christened it “Baby Tiger”.  That is, of course, still its name to this very day.  I look at it and see all three of them… my super-destructo toy-flinging and clockwork-wrecking children.  And it is the toys that we have all played with that still link us all together even though they are almost grown.





Filed under humor, photo paffoonies, playing with toys

Babes in Toyland

annetteI believe I may have mentioned before what an important part of my creative life my Grandma Beyer’s old 1960’s RCA Victor color TV was because of its ability to render the weekly Disney TV show in color.  One of the most significant things we were moved to drive all the way to Mason City to see on a Sunday afternoon in the 1960’s was the wonderful Annette Funicello vehicle, Babes in Toyland.   It was a musical remake of the 1903 Victor Herbert Operetta starring Annette (at a time before puberty made me secretly obsessed with seeing her naked) and Tommy Sands as the main fairy tale protagonists.


Disney had originally planned in 1955 to make this as another of their animated features, but he later combined it with his desire to make a Wizard of Oz-like live-action film, a colorful sound-stage musical.

The music was Victor Herbert’s, as was the basic story, but it was all done the Disney way with rewritten lyrics and even an adapted film score.

It featured Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz) as the villain (a first for him).  He played the evil Barnaby, the Crooked Man, who wanted to keep Mary Contrary and Tom Piper (Annette and Tommy Sands) from getting married and living happily ever after.babesintoylandvillainsmeeting

The bumbling henchmen Gonzorgo and Roderigo are played by a comedy duo who were also featured in Disney’s Zorro TV show from the 50’s.  Their slapstick antics made the film for me as a gradeschool child who deeply appreciated Three-Stooges-style comedy.  I particularly liked the way they turned on the villain and helped the heroes in the end.  I thought that was the way stories of good and evil always had to end… saved by the clowns.


The cute kids in the story were also a part of the magical appeal.  The story, after all, is told basically for them.  So this movie had a lot to do with why I felt the need to become a children’s writer and write YA fantasy novels.  The music didn’t hurt the appeal either.  The Toymaker, Ed Wynn, was a character that probably turned me into a rabid toy-collector and someone you really don’t want to argue with over old toys at yard sales.


But probably the most important way this particular bit of Disneyana has influenced my life came through the march of the tin soldiers and the stop-motion battle of the toys at the end of the movie.  That has informed almost the whole of my art goals.  It has that certain je-ne-sais-quoi of childhood imagination that I am obsessed with reproducing.

You can probably see the fixation yourself if you take a look at this last Paffooney.


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Filed under humor, movie review, Paffooney

Why I Play With Dolls… erm… Action Figures

My daughter the Princess and I went to Toys R Us this morning to spend a little of the money I had earned by proofreading a technical paper for a grad student.  I bought a My Little Pony Equestria Girl named Rarity (I already have the pony, I just needed the girl to add to the collection.)  I also bought a Minecraft sheep thing that the Princess promptly named Jed.  Apparently, in the Minecraft game online, if you name your sheep Jed, it turns rainbow colors.  And I know I didn’t slip by you the fact that the Pony Girl was my toy.  In this post I intend to explain to you why I play with little girls’ toys… and hem and haw… and rationalize… and lie… because it is really not what it seems.

It all began in 1965, on my ninth birthday, because I had discovered in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog the first Action Figure, G.I. Joe, and I begged and begged and begged it for my birthday.  There were four different flavors of G.I. Joe to choose from, representing the four branches of the U.S. Military.  You could get either a sailor from the Navy, a soldier from the Army or Marines, or a pilot from the Air Force.  Of course, I was wild about the Air Force, but I was clever enough to ask for a sailor Joe because my father was a Korean Conflict Veteran who had been in the Navy on board the USS Hornet aircraft carrier.  Dad actually liked the idea and got the Navy Frog Man uniform to go along with it.  I could change Joe’s clothes and make him a cool undersea adventurer.  It only took a half hour to change him from a sailor into a frog man, and another half hour to change him out of his swim fins and wet suit back into a sailor.  It was a doll with sets of clothes to change him into just like my younger sisters’ Barbie and Tammy dolls.  Wait… what?  I had been tricked into playing with dolls?  It is like I lost my official man card even before I earned it… or even before I knew what it was.


Oh, well… it was all about the stories anyway.  Yes, I was a story-teller even then.  I built a submarine out of my Erector Set (a cherished toy from a previous Christmas) and my Joe led adventures through the vast undersea areas of our parents’ bedroom using Barbie (actually a Midge doll) and Tammy (little sister’s knock-off imitation Barbie doll) as crew.  We added to the stories and adventures as time went on, and birthdays and Christmases passed, and we accumulated more dolls.  I added Fritz, a Soldiers of the World G.I. Joe from Germany, an Air Force Pilot Joe, and an Astronaut Joe.  My sister Nanette added a Francie doll, a Christie (the first African-American Barbie), and a G.I. Joe nurse.  Little sister Maggie added a Francie of her own, a regular Barbie, and a Skipper doll to the submarine crew.  And then the stories went through the roof when I got my sweaty little hands on Captain Action and his Super-hero costumes!


Captain Action was the creation of the now defunct Ideal Toy Company as an answer to the incredible success of G.I. Joe.  You could take the basic Captain Action figure (seen above on the far right… this is the actual first figure… what’s left of him.  The right hand is long gone.  He has no fore arms.  The uniform that he is wearing is not his original.  It is basically holding his severed body parts together.  I did successfully re-attach the head) and put him in a new uniform to turn him into Batman or Superman or… Aquaman!  perfect for submarine adventures with sisters!


In the 1990’s my parents gave me the box of my old G.I. Joes.  It was like a re-awakening of childhood passions.  Several of my Joes were in terrible shape because my little brother and his semi-simian deviant friends had used fire-crackers on them a-la-Sid from Toy Story.  I began cleaning them and restoring them.  And then the internet happened.  Old guys like me that grew up with these classic toys were now trying to recapture their youth by buying and selling the toys on E-bay.  Seriously, check out this price for vintage Captain Action stuff (mint in box);

Aquaman on E-Bay  (Oops!  That $2000 toy that you can’t even play with has already sold!)

Collecting and trading dolls has become a fascinating hobby and potentially profitable (at least until age and death and bankruptcy winnow out all the old crazy guys like me who collect this sort of stuff).  And why the added obsession with Barbies and things like My Little Pony dolls?  Well, my sisters’ dolls had all been kept in a metal box.  Attics in Texas can reach 600+ degrees Fahrenheit in the Summer.  Have you ever seen a melted Barbie?  Nostalgia made me do it… that, and having a daughter… well, that’s my story, anyway.  And I am sticking to it.


Filed under doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

Captain Action, Mighty Hero

Captain Action, Mighty Hero

I was a child of the 1960’s. I was 10 in 1966. In 1967 I received a Captain Action action figure for my birthday. Neither of these figures are the original one, since he is now resting in pieces. (I do have all the pieces.) The Spiderman suit is part of a Christmas gift from 1968, though not the mask and the boots. Superman was a rare find as a collector in about 2003. His boots are held together with tape and rubber bands, but the rest of the costume is in very good shape. The Lost in Space Robot came from E-Bay, and I got him for only four dollars. Needless to say, these things are priceless to the child who still lives inside me. I play with them often.

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March 6, 2014 · 2:01 am

March of the Tin Soldiers

March of the Tin Soldiers

A big share of my surrealistic bent comes from the influence of Walt Disney on my childhood. Lady and the Tramp, Babes in Toyland, the Junglebook… Disney made me dance and dream.


December 19, 2013 · 3:37 am