As part of my continuing celebration of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the one and only toy in my collection with the word "moon" in its name.
Truth: There's nothing very heroic looking about this British astronaut. He's both roly and poly, and his soft, yellow uniform makes him look like a giant, alien crumpet. He's a far cry from Dan Dare, the preeminent British space hero of the 1950s.
Some collectors share my point of view, but not all. In fact, one of the collectors I respect the most, a man who helped make me the collector I am today, a man who also happens to be a beefy, tattooed, badass, chopper-riding, multiply-body-pierced, tougher-than-your-average-bear kind of dude, once told me that he absolutely loves the weird, geeky, little astronaut. Clearly it's a demonstration of how collecting is an intensely personal hobby, and each person's collection is governed by their own peculiar taste. We shouldn't judge each other... even if I did think my friend was nuts!
And I'll admit, the Moon Man has a cool action: It walks with a nice "step-over" motion while its head turns back and forth, as if scanning the horizon of an alien planet. Clever, cute, the kind of action that gives a toy some personality. But not enough to make me buy it, right? Right?
Ah, but how often has it happened to other collectors: You're walking through a toy show, you're surfing through eBay, you're picking through an antique market, when all of a sudden you see that toy you hated so much (and, ahem, so vocally). Only now, with the piece right in front of you, it doesn't look quite so bad. "Hm," you think to yourself, "I never really noticed that before. Or that. Or the way it does that or that or especially that! You know, this toy's actually not that bad."
Which is, of course, what happened to me. I was at the Kane County Toy Show outside of Chicago when I came across a rare, silver variation of the Moon Man. Suddenly, I found myself taking another look, a closer look. I don't know what I saw that transformed the toy in my eyes, and maybe my tastes had just developed over the last few years of collecting different toys, but suddenly I found myself really wanting to take the astronaut home with me.
My friend was there, and he saw the look in my eye. He of course took the opportunity to pester me about it. But I played it cool; I put the toy back on the table and moved on. He shrugged, thinking he'd misread me after all. I gave him a self-satisfied little grin and said something like, "That's what you get for thinking you can read me, sucka!" Of course, the real reason I put the toy down was that I'd spent all my money for the weekend. A show of willpower isn't tough when you're flat broke!
Needless to say, I was hooked on the Moon Man. A few months later, a dealer I know had one on eBay, mint-in-box, for a really low starting price. I decided to throw a bid at it, and ended up winning the auction. A few months after that I finally told my friend about it. I think he's just about ready to stop saying "I told you so!"