This Friday’s conversation is brought to you by Jason Tabrys…
Listen, there are a lot of things that outright suck about being an adult that no one ever warns you about, but the one plus is money. You control it and can do with it what you wish. The accumulation of that money and how much you need to pay out to other people is, of course, another adult thing that sucks, but when you want a Star Wars toy or some other action figure or collectible (and you’re able to afford that toy), your ass is getting a toy.
For instance, I grew up awkward and was always considered a weirdo. Because of this, Gonzo became my spirit animal, or whatever he is. So, when I had the chance to get a Master Replica full-size photo replica Gonzo (a Muppet in all ways besides functionality) for a deep, deep discount on eBay, I made the irresponsible decision to do so. And even now, as his value has jumped into the multi-hundred dollar range, I irresponsibly hold onto him (not literally… not always) because I HAVE GONZO IN MY LIVING ROOM ALL THE TIME. This isn’t just a collectible, this is a “run into a fire to save it” kind of item, and I know I’m not the only one who is this level of obsessed, so we asked the rest of #TeamUproxx to bare their souls and confess to the world what their “precious” is. And after you read their responses, please do tell us what toy or other bauble you value above all others.
The geekiest pop culture merchandise I’ve ever owned is my complete collection of the Big Trouble in Little China Funko figures released earlier this year. Yes, I’m a grown ass man who does pushups and works on his classic American automobile, but BTILC is, after all, the greatest movie ever made and it must be celebrated as such in my home at all times. So, the best way to do that is to have Jack Burton and Gracie Law on one side of my desk and Lo Pan and the Three Storms on the other. Of course, the problem with this collection is that the villains outnumber the heroes, and since Wang Chi and Egg Shen are the real heroes of this movie, I think it’s just offensive that POP! didn’t make toys for them. And they could have added the big, hairy demon (named “Pete” by Jack Burton in BOOM!’s new comic book series), which would have made nine total figures, but Pete’s in the middle since he becomes eternally loyal to Jack in the comic book series. Well, kind of, but you should be reading that on your own, because the curveball that comes in the more recent issues is wonderful and really should be the story for a new film. Wait, what were we talking about? Yeah, my Big Trouble in Little China Funko toys are pretty rad.
Like many people who grew up with The Simpsons, I used to be an enormous fan, until the gradual decline in quality a decade or so ago began to disenchant and eventually disinterest me in the series. But when Playmates Toys released their World of Springfield action figure line in 1999, I was still very much obsessed with The Simpsons, and obsessively collected the toys. I’d even cut out the UPC codes to get the limited edition ones you had to mail away for, and buy ones I couldn’t find on eBay.
They’re all sitting in Rubbermaid tubs in my basement now. I should probably just give them to Josh Kurp.
Sometime in the ’90s, my dad bought me a plastic model of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from the original Star Trek. It came with three separate parts — the main ship’s body and the two detachable warp engines — stickers, and four options for sound effects. I still have it, though I lost the warp drives while in college. BONUS: Still has the original batteries in it, and all the sound effects still work.
I was always a pretty nerdy kid, but I was 12 when Fellowship of the Ring came out, and things got pretty next level after that. I read everything Tolkien wrote, covered my walls in posters, bought the action figures, attempted to learn some Elvish, you name it. I was obsessed. That Christmas, I got a leather bound atlas of Middle Earth, and it was days before I put it down. I tracked the fellowship’s journey and poured over battle plans, absolutely loving every second I could spend in that world. To this day, it is still one of my most prized possessions and the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten.
I don’t know if this counts as “geeky” so much as “obscure,” but a few years ago, Michel Gondry (director of one of my favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine) had a promotion on his website, where you could send him a picture, any picture, and for $20 he would paint you a watercolor of it. This seemed like an incredible deal, so I sent in my favorite web-meme/weird-Google-find-you-send-to-your-friends at the time, which was a picture (I can’t find it now) of a trans female performer of some sort (breasts and penis) who looked remarkably like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, flipping the bird to the crowd with both hands while holding a Hennessy bottle in her butt. It was very punk rock. Long story short, Michel Gondry painted it and it now hangs framed in my bedroom.
In my time, I’ve owned a great deal of Olsen Twins merchandise; posters, magazines, cassette tapes of their brilliant music, every book in their Detective/Party/Two of a Kind series, and a strand of Ashley’s hair that I found in a elevator at Barney’s circa 2002. But the crown jewel owns the Mary-Kate and Ashley Mattel dolls, which were released in 2000. Owning dolls is supposedly uncouth past a certain age, thus I’ve never showcased these dolls. They’ve been kept in a box since 2005. But I recently unearthed them and set them on my windowsill for some fresh air. We had an evening photo shoot where they modeled these stunning party dresses. Later that night, we ate cereal together while watching Harriet the Spy on VHS.
I own a rather large and expensive polystone Godzilla statue. My ex gave it to me, and I love that statue so much, my wife let me keep it despite a dislike of both my ex and Godzilla.
Sometimes I look at all the geek-related stuff that I own and wonder how I’ve fooled so many people into thinking that I’m a mostly well-adjusted adult. Because, when it comes to certain properties, I have gone head over heels bonkers for some things. I’ll start with my t-shirt collection, which includes more than one Star Trek tee, several Marvel tees, and three Ghostbusters tees, the most prized and perfect of which is my Ray’s Occult Books tee. Because I’m one of exactly three people who not just likes Ghostbusters 2, but loves it very deeply.
On the weirder side, I am the proud owner of a Gorn mask and a Captain Kirk shirt, which were costumes for a parody video that never happened. But I have a Gorn mask. And a Gornament, which depicts the famous Gorn fight and makes hissing sounds. I’d throw it at an opponent to demonstrate my fighting prowess, but I like it too much and I wouldn’t want to frighten people with my strength.
But I think the geekiest thing I own is actually a part of my body, and that is my “Excelsior” tattoo. I fell really hard for Marvel as an adult and wish it had been part of my life, and I can’t think of another property that inspires me to write fantastical human stories more. And that’s pretty much seared into my flesh so I don’t forget. So hardcore, I know.
So, geek out and let us know your favorite piece of pop culture merchandise.