Ode On An Action Figure: Blog
So I grew up in the 90's with an older brother who was the definition of cool. As such, anything he was into was also cool by default, and for a minute or so he was into comics. This was something that he quickly pulled away from, but that I found myself delving into as the years went by. Spiderman was king, followed by Batman and The X-Men. (incidentally, all of these characters had an animated series airing regularly around this time) and this meant that my family had an easy time shopping for me for Christmas. I got a number of comics-related toys and action figures as a kid, and while they were all key players in the various stories I crafted at the tender age of five, there was one action figure that rose to the top. One above all who was my favorite and always wound up "winning" every imaginary fight I put him in.
In case you're unfamiliar with the character, and I wouldn't blame you if you were, his name is Avalanche and he's typically portrayed as an enemy of the X-Men. We're talking like C-List character by this point, given he was introduced in the early 80's and doesn't have any memorable roles in any of the major storylines.
I distinctly remember asking my brother who the character was, laughing at his name (because it was the first time I'd heard the word and it sounded too much like ranch... as in the dressing) only to have him explain what an avalanche was. "You know how in the cartoons when someone rolls a snowball down the mountain and it becomes a giant one? An avalanche is like that, but instead, it's a hundred of those snowballs." (oh, and 100 was the biggest number I could cognize at this time because again, I was five)
Combine the cool name with the sleek design and presto, favorite action figure. Of course, I didn't know he was a villain or that his power was the generation of seismic waves that could cause earthquakes or, you guessed it- avalanches. I just thought he was cool. So he was regularly the hero in the make-believe worlds I put him in. Having watched many a martial arts film even by that age, most of my stories usually involved a tournament of some kind because: fighting. But thinking back, there were some remarkably mature themes in these playtime scenarios of mine.
For instance, the notion of honor was fairly prevalent. Namely in the fact that using your magic powers in a fighting tournament was cheating. (usually, Avalanche was such a good fighter he would win anyway, but sometimes the judge would let him use his powers to make the match fair- don't ask me why I remember this shit but can't remember anyone's phone number) There was the notion of rivalry and how challenges made people stronger- Avalanche always had at least one really tough opponent who made him try harder and really work for the win, he often had to perfect or perform some finishing move that had stumped him until that very moment. Revenge was also fairly common. I can't tell you how many action figures held a grudge for having lost to Avalanche in the LAST tournament. But when I really wanted to play up the drama of it all, I made the last opponent either his brother or his best friend- sometimes both because: plot twist!
It was during these stories, that the themes of restraint and pyrrhic victory came about. He'd win. But in the process of relentlessly chasing victory, he'd severely injure his opponent. Thus, he'd be left to wonder if winning was worth it, why he lost control, and if he'd still have a brother/best friend when it was all over. (admittedly a lot of those feelings were close to home, I used to rough house with my younger brother and there were plenty of times where we both got too serious-sorry little bro, although I think you're still the only person to give me a black eye if that counts for anything hahaha)
All of this to say, I found this in a bucket labeled $1 action figures at a local comic shop and it reminded me of the shit I used to do as a kid.
Now I'm pretty sure my parents still have a bag of all our old toys floating around the garage somewhere, so I'm pretty sure my original all time favorite action figure is in there somewhere, but I bought the hell out of this thing. And I've got plans for it. I've got a lot of irons in the fire, but I'm hoping to turn him into a display piece. Details and progress to come soon-ish.