Let me bring you back to a simpler time, a time of battling factions of military might fighting to survive in a world of giant children. I am speaking of G.I. Joe figurines and the uncontrollable urge of young boys to incinerate, dismember, and blow up one's possessions.


How an Alley Viper should look


I have been thinking a lot about my childhood G.I. Joes and how much I cherished them. I remember going to the local "Children's Palace" toy superstore and ecstatically running to the G.I. Joe aisle. When I say G.I. Joe aisle, I do not mean the aisle that housed G.I. Joes and many other toys. I am talking about a whole freaking wall full of the greatest assortment of card-backed, bubble-packed G.I. Joes hanging 15-deep on countless pegs! I loved looking through that entire selection searching for the coolest looking Joes to face off against my collection. I don't remember personally having all that many "good guys" as they usually didn't have the cool armor or helmets. My friend and I used to unite our armies and played out scenarios only a child could understand. I still remember most of the G.I. Joes he had such as Night Creeper, Heat Viper and Sergeant Slaughter - the latter of which lay mangled behind his garage near discarded cinder blocks.

Now I am left wondering why I expressed my appreciation of the G.I. Joes by obliterating them. I recall cannibalizing various figurines to create a comic book character, Ghost Rider (which I still have, by the way), to submit photos to the comic book collectors magazine, Wizard. Naturally, we wanted to make it as authentic as possible, so we lit it's head on fire for the true effect. Regretfully, the photos never turned out quite good enough to submit, but we developed a taste for the acrid smell of burnt plastic Joe flesh. It wasn't long before we were trying to recreate the persona of The Human Torch. Granted, I was very hesitant to burn my "guys," but I also saw it as survival of the fittest - the cooler the Joe looked, the safer it was from destruction. Basically, if their human face was exposed, they were a goner. But apparently even that rule was up for interpretation because I ended up slaughtering many of my coolest figurines (including one of my favorites, Snake Eyes).

There is one incident that I just can't shake, though. It was down at my family's lake cabin, out by the dock. My friend and I both had identical G.I. Joes named Alley Viper (pictured above). This was probably the favorite one in my collection. The next thing I remember is both of us grinding up our bright orange and blue clad Cobra soldiers in the boat lift gears (his remains pictured on the right)! Perhaps it was a right of passage into "manhood" or a brief moment of insanity, I cannot say, but I sorely regret what happened on that day.


My poor, little Alley Viper


In order to free myself from this particular dark moment in my life, I am trying to rebuild my G.I. Joe collection. No, I do not intend to play with them, nor will I be displaying them. They will most likely go into my rubbermaid tote of childhood toys that I enjoy revisiting when we occasionally clean out the closet. I have yet to find any of them at our area thrift stores, but I will not quit until I adopt at least as many as I destroyed.