It should be stated that I have three older siblings. Much older siblings in fact. When I was born my two sisters had already moved out and the next youngest, my brother, was turning 18 and was on his way to leaving the house as well. Growing up I was essentially an only child, as such I quickly developed a love of toys. There was something great about being able to create your own entertainment through imaginative play which really clicked with me. Wherever I went I’d bring along a few cars or action figures for the trip in case things got boring or I found that the mood required a high speed chase or epic battle scene.
One of my earliest collections of toys were the Masters of the Universe figures and playsets. In fact it was probably one of the earliest fandoms to which I belonged. As a kid I loved the He-Man cartoon and would spend hours recreating the battles and adventures of that crazy post-apocalyptic fantasy world of Eternia. In the basement of my childhood home I had a large corner that was dedicated as a play area where I kept most of my toys and playsets. There were representatives from several classic toy lines lingering around in that basement. Star Wars (of course), Transformers, GoBots, Voltron, and even Rainbow Brite (I’m not ashamed!) but dominating the playscape was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!
From around the ages of 4 to 6 Castle Grayskull stood at the center of my toy multiverse like a dull green beacon of adventure! I had what seemed like a legion of heroes and villains to choose from along with several of the zany and seemingly inefficiently engineered vehicles. Swords of power and magic staves were strewn across the carpet just waiting to be taken up in combat by the most worthy of heroes or misshapen of monsters. Skeletor, Hordak, He-Man, Buzz-Off. These were names of legend. The epic storylines I would construct would incorporate many of my other toys until seemingly every toy I owned had vowed their loyalty to one side or the other in the continuous struggle of good versus evil.
The laws of physics and rules of logic did not apply to my corner of the basement which made those epic struggles all the more fun.
However there was one rule to that play area, the rule of Mom! Specifically Mom asked that I keep my toys picked up and tidy when I was done. No doubt this was some attempt by my parents to teach me about responsibility and the importance of taking proper care of my possessions. Having children of my own now I completely understand but at the time it was really putting a cramp in my style, more importantly it was hindering He-Man’s quests which would often span several days, picking up where they’d left off during the previous afternoon.
How was I expected to pick up my things when Skeletor had just invaded the castle and was holding Ram Man hostage? Man-At-Arms just called in Optimus Prime for assistance and if I put it all away now I’ll never remember who had already been killed off and who was only slightly wounded?
However time and time again I was asked to keep my toys picked up and the basement tidy and time and time again I would forget, half-ass it, or outright refuse until finally my other had enough.
“Keep your toys cleaned up or I’m getting rid of your He-Man toys.”
Cue the Ennio Morricone music. A challenge had been thrown out. Our eyes locked in a silent but intense stare.
I feel that I must point out here that I would not describe myself as having been a defiant kid or someone who by any means challenged authority but I was, and to this day still am, extremely stubborn. When I feel like I’m being wronged I’ll double down and hold my ground. Unfortunately for me my mother is the same way.
Now I was young, I don’t recall the exact details of what happened next, but as you might expect I did not keep my toys picked up or at least didn’t keep them picked up to the standards of my mother. Believing Mom to be bluffing I was utterly taken aback when like a galactic crushing cyclone my mother came swooping down into the basement and began disassembled Castle Grayskull, the Fright Zone, and Hordak’s Slime Pit. She meticulously plucked up every multicolored weapon; melee, energy, or otherwise. He-Man, his friends, and enemies were unceremoniously bagged up together with seemingly no appreciation for their deeply ingrained and often conflicting friendships and rivalries.
In an instant Eternia was completely wiped out, it was like millions of plastic voices had cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. It was Alderaan all over again, if Alderaan were a series of techo-medieval kingdoms populated by barbarians and beast men. (Who knows, maybe it was, we’ve never had a real good look at Alderaan at this point.)
I was told my He-Man toys had been thrown away and that was the end of that.
In the intervening years other toys would come and go. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would eventually rise to prominence and surpass He-Man and his friends in number and overall interest. But there was always a soft spot in my heart for the denizens of Eternia and the few small pieces of He-Man accessories and memorabilia which managed to slip through the cracks would go on to become artifacts of great import in my future play.
Whether or not that experience has left any indelible emotional scarring, who’s to say? I’ll ask my psychologist when I see him next week.
It wasn’t until years later, around age 9 or 10, when I was sent into our crawl spaces in search of holiday decorations, and I discovered the truth! My Masters of the Universe toys hadn’t been tossed out like so much fantastic garbage but had simply been stashed away, hidden from me and simply awaiting to be rediscovered. Occasionally afterwards I’d covertly work my way back through the racks of clothes and stacks of boxed junk in the crawl space in order to get back to my old friends. I’d pick through the toys remembering how awesome they were and matching them up with their distinctive armor and weaponry. Even at that time I didn’t dare take them out beyond the crawl space for fear that my mother might have simply forgotten they were up there and upon discovering them would finish the job once and for all!
Well now after all those years I’ve finally freed the citizens of Eternia from the bondage of those attic boxes and have decided to make use of them in a new series of blog posts I’m calling The Eternia Restoration 2016. If you’re familiar with my Terrordrome Renovation 2011 then you’ll know what to expect! The short answer is I’ll be going through these old toys, cleaning them up, putting them back together, and just generally restoring them to as much of their former glory as is now possible.
So let’s get right down to it!
For starters here are a few shots of the toys I’ll be cleaning up. These Masters of the Universe figures, vehicles and playsets have seen a lot of action and are far from complete. Overall however they were really in much better shape than I expected!
The heroes and villains directly from their cardboard imprisonment. For the record at this time they all smelled like a lovely melange of Moss Man and Stinkor odors.
The remaining accessories. Already we can tell there are a lot missing.
Next we have the vehicles and war machines of the Masters of the Universe!
The majestic Dragon Walker. The zaniest design for a vehicle ever produced and the best part is that it’s motorized! Here’s hoping we can get it to work!
Stridor. The mechanical mount of Eternia’s heroes.
Skeletor’s Land Shark. Watch out all you celebrity billionaire business folk, this is an actual Shark Tank!
The Wind Raider. This is the oldest of the vehicles I have. It’s missing several parts and is sadly in the worst shape.
Attack Track. Another highly illogical mode of transportation and it too is motorized!
Battle Bones. This has always been my favorite. Essentially the bus of Eternia but also a handy carrying case when visiting friends and family.
Finally here we have the big guns, the playsets. I was lucky enough to have not only Castle Grayskull, but the Fright Zone, and Hordak’s Slime pit as well! Still in pieces I really want to clean these suckers up before reassembling them.
Castle Grayskull. Surprisingly almost all of the castles parts and decals seems to have survived the years in exile.
The Fright Zone and Slime Pit also seem to be in good shape though I haven’t had time yet to pull them out and sort through to find out.
FINALLY we’ll end this with another bit of good news: I’m happy to announce the reunion of He-Man with his sister She-Ra! Huzzah! As fate would have it our house was already in the possession of a She-Ra collection which my wife saved from her childhood house a few years earlier!
She-Ra the Princess of Power and her pals. Although my wife Lauren kept these heroines hair on fleek she seems to have lost all of their accessories.