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Thread: What Does An Action Figure Mean to You?

  1. #1
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    What Does An Action Figure Mean to You?

    My interest in MotU has recently been re-ignited just a little bit, with a friend who knows and shares my interest prompting me to watch one of the newer Netflix shows. This got me looking around for the state of newer action figure releases, and I came across what looks like a newer line (Origins, I think?) which looks close enough to the old originals from the 80ís, but made with more joints and flexibility, making them easier to pose. The time was right and the stars aligned, so I fulfilled an idle dream to have my own He-Man.

    Back in the day I had a Battle Armor He-Man, which had a couple hours novelty spinning the damage wheel on his chest back and forth...but he wasnít quite the He-Man I saw every day on the cartoon. Back in the day I also had Adam, which was great! But I just pretended he transformed into He-Man in play; he had the power now without needing lightening to blasting his clothes off! ...but, again, he wasnít quite the He-Man I saw every day on the cartoonÖ

    It was a long distant dream to want the actual, default, ďproperĒ He-Man.

    While I was at it, I fulfilled another distant dream; I also always wanted that curious Faker character as wellóthe multiple alternative ideas behind Faker fascinate me. I rounded out my set with a Skeletor, completely unplanned; and I toy with the idea of rounding out the set just one more with an Adam. All major characters that have some version of the Power Sword.

    I think Faker is the figure that brings out the thoughts of what these action figures represent, to me. It makes me wonder if the figures have a special meaning to other people.

    One answer is that the figures mean capturing a certain nostalgia, and image from childhood that still resonates decades later. I remember seeing someone at school playing with Faker, and was fascinated and puzzled. He was like He-Man, but blue. He was an evil version of He-Man, how formidable that would be! How did this evil twin of He-Man come to manifest? How come he never appeared in the show...oh wait! A version does appear in the show, once! But he isnít blue, and heís a magical creation, where the toy was a robot?! It took me time to realize my fascination with the idea of an evil character who is in the image of the heroic main character, like Doctor Who facing an evil incarnation of himself or Superman splitting in two in the Superman III movie. I always felt like Faker was neglected, underutilized. Iíve heard the argument that there are enough questions about identity with the whole Adam to He-Man transformation, you donít need Faker as an evil version of He-Man. I never agreed with that, though. And sure, I always wondered about how Faker was supposed to fake being He-Man, with that blue skin, how could he ever fool anyone looking like that?!

    With Faker being elusive except in action figure form, getting Faker meant that I had ďcapturedĒ him. He was no longer an image in my head from a childhood memory, or an image I could google, or a clip I could watch on youtube. Having him poised for action on a bookshelf that I can turn to, means that he is more real to me. And that symbolic representation of a character that Iíve long had ideas about, now more real to me, in the plastic, made my ideas about the character more real. I ended up jotting down a story outline for what I thought would be the most satisfying version of the character. Another version of the character, less ideal yet still interesting, has come to mind that I also want to capture on paper.

    So I have clear ideas of who I think my Faker is. I donít play with him, but I came up with a story about him, which I might have played out when I was younger...and in the process of play told the story. I just played it out on paper, and the action figure served partly as inspiration.
    Faker is a lot of things to me. Exploring something that once seemed unobtainable. Re-discovering something that I didnít originally understand my affinity for. In storytelling, he represents a trope that I am obsessed with: an individualís internal struggle, externalized. That internal conflict made into a physical conflict, where a person can face themselves and question themselves, but they arenít standing in front of a mirror, their darker half is literally standing in front of them.

    It made me think about the He-Man I long wanted and finally have. The default, the original. Yet, which is the original He-Man? Since childhood, in the more recent decades I have delved into alternative versions of MotU and He-Man. As much as I love the MYP version, the action figure isnít necessarily that version, although I feel sure many adventures seen in the MYP show could happen to to the action figure I finally have now. But also in mind is the original mini-comics version.

    What do people call the earliest mini-comics continuity these days? Is Mineternia acceptable, or has that term fallen out of vogue? I was introduced to it under the label of Mineternia, and was absolutely fascinated by the idea of it. The early, vastly different version of MotU continuity, somewhat lost and hard to find in those mini-comics. Could I collect the 15 or so mini-comics and explore that version properly? This became a concern for me, an early MotU collecting project that was daunting. I got lucky, in that very shortly after I began researching the feasibility of collecting them, the Universe made it easy for me and handed them to me in the form of the massive mini-comics omnibus collection.

    I met He-Man of the Jungle Tribe for the first time. Iíd met him before as a child, without knowing, in the Man-E-Faces minicomic (that came with the Man-E-Faces action figure, the other MotU figure I had, long ago) where poor Man-E-Faces is used and abused by Skeletor. When I was young, I assumed the Man-E-Faces comic version of He-Man was the Filmation He-Man, but for some reason he was using a battle-axe rather than his power sword. I was very disconcerted when I first read that comic. But now I understood; I had finally met He-Man of the Jungle Tribe, and learned to like, respect, and appreciate his differences to the Filmation He-Man. I got into the groove with the different style of art, the subtle differences to his torso harness, his favoring of battle-axe and shield, without being fussed about a power sword. I got the impression of him as something of a barbarian, like Conan the Cimmerian, yet more virtuous. I wasnít into Conan back in the day, but in the intervening decades Iíve read most of the original 1920ís Conan the Cimmerian stories. So I appreciated He-Man of the Jungle Tribe for his similarities and differences to what I had learned about Conan.

    But returning to the question of what the He-Man action figure represents to me, I feel poised to come up with something of my own. I donít think heís the Jungle tribesman who left to go adventuring, but I have posed him in the traditional action figure pose pictured on many of the packages Iíve seen, favoring the battle-axe and shield, with the power sword sheathed in the back of his battle-harness. I donít think heís the Filmation version that I first met. I feel like I want to come up with something new-ish, that is still inspired by the iterations of MotU that I like best. So heís a springboard for storytelling potential.

    How do you feel about what the action figures represent to you?

    Are they a hobby, to satisfy a collectorís bone?
    Are the something of a modelling hobby, using them to make variants with alternative limbs or paint jobs?
    Are you capturing or re-capturing a feeling of nostalgia, something you owned before or always just wanted?
    Are they just a symbol of a character that you like, and want to be more real by actually having one?
    Are they a springboard for storytelling?
    Are they something to philosophize over?

  2. #2
    Heroic Warrior AlexApprobation's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums and welcome back to the MOTU fandom.

    This was a very cool post, so I had to comment on some degree.

    As a kid, it also took me a while to get a "proper" regular He-Man figure. I think Battle Armor He-Man was the one I got first... it's the one I remember playing with the most. I also had Thunder-Punch He-Man, so that was probably my second one. I have very vague memories of playing with the regular version... so I probably got him near the end of my collecting and playing. But yeah... like you, at first I was bothered by not having the original that I saw in the comics and cartoon. But I got over it pretty quickly (probably when the cartoon became too silly for my quickly maturing tastes).

    Congrats on your new figure purchases and all the childhood joy and nostalgia it brings! A lot of my joy as a kid also came from discovering new characters, seeking them out, learning their stories, and playing with them. Around my playgrounds, Scare Glow was the one that had the most mystery and uncertainty.

    I also had similar questions for Faker and even some of the other characters. MOTU was how I first learned that there were people behind these creations and they are only human, experimenting and making things up as they go along. It also was my first exposure to the idea of a multiverse and how the same characters can be similar but different depending on the particular story.

    As a current resolution for the Faker blue skin situation, the Classics line fixed that for me. Using the 200X Gar situation, Faker was a part of a plan to use Eternia's prejudices against them and also discredit He-Man in the process. A genius explanation that was completely plausible to me.

    Going into your questions, I don't collect the action figures, so I'll substitute statues in.

    What do they represent to me? Amazing pieces of art as things of beauty and inspiration. They also represent childhood nostalgia and the realistic and gritty versions that I saw in my head while playing. MOTU is what inspired me to draw, write, and create.

    They are symbols of characters I always loved and it does bring those ideas more to life in a way by having them.

    They do satisfy a collecting urge. I've always collected things all my life, but usually I get to the point where I'm done and get rid of everything.

    I also really love the sense of community. It's always great discussing, sharing, and debating things with people who have similar sensibilities and passions.
    Tweeterhead Statue Want List: He-Man 2.0, Battle Cat, Panthor, Tung Lashor, Rattlor, Zodak (200X style), She-Ra 2.0, Sorceress, Buzz Off, Webstor, Kobra Khan, King Hiss, Scare Glow

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior
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    As someone who didn't really care about MOTU as a kid (I was horn after 200X ended, so my MOTU experience pre-2018 was random episodes I'd seen on bootleg VHS tapes or played at my preschool and some hand me downs I'd gotten from garage sales that I didn't know were MOTU, and I guess various memes and jokes).

    But around 2018, I stumbled across the org toy gallery and instantly fell in love. Suddenly, I realized MOTU wasn't just this lame cartoon, it was so much more. I started reading the minicomics and the various other comics. I wanted to get into collecting the vintage line, but it was too pricey, most things were in pretty bad condition, and idk what diseases would be on those things. But then Origins was announced and I was sold immediately. I have a weird tendency to get into something right before something major is announced, it's a weird run of coincidences, but I'm not complaining. Also, somewhere in there, I bought a bunch of DC Primal Age stuff since I love DC and thought that would be the closest I would ever get to owning MOTU stuff.

    So idk, I just love the world, the characters, and the toys. It's not like DC or Star Wars where I've known these characters my whole life or anything, it's something I more or less discovered one night.

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