Toys and action figures are awesome, especially the ones from the best decade ever, the 80s! They aren’t just things for young boys to play with, they are an important part of growing up , an integral part of childhood development. But why do men continue to have the need for collecting action figures and toys as they grow up? Why do men love toys so much?
I’m going to say it. I’m 40 years old. I’m 40 years old and I love my action figures!
I don’t care if it isn’t cool. I don’t care if feminists insult me and men like me. They are cool to me and I love them, so screw anyone who says otherwise.
I’ll never forget my childhood Christmas’ growing up, tearing open that wrapping paper year after year to action figures of He Man, Thundercats and Bravestarr! Running to the corner shop for a Star Wars action figure with my saved up pocket money, back when figures were 99p! A new vehicle or playset on my birthdays. My dad surprising me by coming home from work with a Star Wars vehicle he had bought second hand somewhere.
I had a great childhood.
I played with them endlessly. I loved the toys. I bought into the Cartoons, the sticker albums and comics, the entire culture of action figures in the 80s is one I still get a great deal of nostalgic joy from. Thundercats, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Visionaries, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Masters of the Universe. I loved them all and loved the toys too!
And I still have all of those toys I had as a kid, well most of them at least. My prized Thundercat collection, including the original Cats Lair and Mumm Ra’s Tomb Fortress, all complete and still with their original boxes despite being well played with, sit safe in the attic, my full set of Bravestarr figures and Fort Kerium right beside them.
And now my office is like a cross between a medieval armoury (thanks to my other obsession of martial arts) and an 80s toy shop! Except now my childhood passions are joined by many more of their modern counterparts. Instead of the original Lion-O and Tygra which are placed safely and securely, the collectors editions from Bandai, made for adult collectors, have pride of place. A G1 Transformer Grapple, bought after endless hours searching on eBay to replace a childhood favourite sits alongside a full set of Stargate action figures, a fandom entered into much later but no less beloved. They all sit on shelves alongside Marvel and DC action figures (bought before Marvel was cool again), old comic books and figures and memorabilia from a variety of movie and geek culture fandoms.
I’m a big geek. A man child. A man yet to grow up. I’ve heard them all.
Many women will tell you that your love for toys is stupid, it’s childish, that you should spend your money on more responsible things like the mortgage and the bills! (What they really mean is that you should spend it on them!)
But I’m far from the only one. So many men hold onto keepsakes from their childhood or amass entire new collections when they grow up. An entire industry has built up around it with serious collectors trading action figures for thousands of pounds. Entire conventions fill huge arenas of men swapping, buying and drooling over little plastic representations of the things they love.
But why? Why do men love their toys so much?
Of course there has been some academic study on this. Some say that it is a status symbol, a collection of trophies that speak to our caveman instincts of showing that we can gather things and provide (although personally I don’t agree with that one because I will behead anyone who comes near my collection)!
Feminists obviously call it a representation of toxic masculinity, because why would they break habit and let up on the man hating?
Others say that we are reaching back to a time when we couldn’t have everything we wanted, but now we are adults and able to afford these things ourselves we are fulfilling that urge to collect all the cool things we didn’t get back then! I can see a kernel of truth in that. I never had any Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, despite Raphael being the reason I picked the Sai as my first weapon to train with in my Karate training, but I have them now! And I have the even better, fully articulated collector versions too!
And yet the simplest explanation is that they just make us feel like kids again. They are reminders of a simpler, happier time with no responsibility, with no societal judgements, when we could just get excited about something that made us happy.
These toys, these action figures, these collectibles, whatever you want to call them, are just awesome and cool things that I love, so I surround myself with them in my office. It is my haven, my solace, like my bedroom when I was a child.
And that is the key. Some collectors may be drawn to the monetary value of their collections, and indeed I have individual figures or vehicles worth hundreds if not thousands, but for me the link is more emotional. They are cool to look at. Cool things to have. They make me happy.
The monetary value, or other peoples opinions on it, are completely irrelevant.
I love my toys, my stuff is awesome, and I will not submit to the societal norm of growing up if it means I can’t have the things I love!