Before me and Brandie started collecting Star Wars action figures, my parents bought us Fisher-Price Adventure sets. These action figures and vehicles didn’t come with any backstory, they didn’t have any animated series, they didn’t even have names.
So, we were free to create stories about that. We were free to think up of brand new adventures using them as the cast and our bed, blankets, pillows as the surface of a new planet.
Of course, when the Star Wars figures started to come out, all those Fisher Price toys got put aside. They were sometimes brought out to play when we needed an extra space ship for Han Solo or Luke Skywalker.
When the G.I.JOE action figures were released, the Fisher Price toys became the Joes’ back-up unit and were used to transport the assault unit to Cobra’s base.
Aside from the Alpha Probe spacemen sets, we also had the safari sets. The safari set had a little boy in blue which my Uncle Jimbo named Johnny Quest, which I thought was the coolest name in the world.
My Uncle Jimbo, who was five years older than me and the closest I ever had to a kuya, would act out these Johnny Quest adventures using all the toys and props we had at hand.
A couple of years later, I finally caught an episode of the Johnny Quest cartoon on TV and was disappointed that it wasn’t as fun as the adventures we had using those Fisher Price toy sets.
On the rare occasion I visit the toy store these days, I look around and try to spot if Fisher Price still makes these Adventure Sets.
I think there’s something important about providing kids with a blank slate to work with, as opposed to action figures that are based on a cartoon, which they will just re-enact when the show is over.
Although I’m sure kids won’t stop at just re-enacting their favorite episode using their toys. Kids will come up with episodes and adventures much better than what’s on TV.
I remember, one time me and my Uncle Jimbo were playing and we divided all the action figures between us. I first picked my two-foot tall Great Mazinger robot (with rocket missiles!). He picked Darth Vader. I laughed because I knew I could just use the missiles to blast Darth Vader.
Before I could ever fire a single missile, the Sith Lord calmly raised his hand and Great Mazinger started to float off the ground and with the flick of a wrist he sent the great robot flying across the planet (the bed).
“You can’t do that!” I yelled.
“Of course, I can! You just underestimated the power of the Dark Side,” said my uncle.
Best! Adventure! Ever!