The Journey of the Clown Kids
My family and I live in a modern toy museum, thanks to my husband’s growing toy collection. Men find toys fascinating. The older they get, the more expensive and complicated their stuff are. You see, all men have the Peter Pan syndrome – a syndrome so powerful that adulthood has to move aside. The toys which fall under the Peter Pan syndrome are ranging from superhero figures to electronic, gadgets, and automobiles. This syndrome is so complex that it’s best for us to set aside a different time to discuss and mock it properly. Today, we will look at the toys and their impact on my Clown Kids.
My husband (or my eldest son, I call him) started his toy collecting hobby when he was in high school. Not too much, not too crazy at that time. Till last year, I asked him to help out in my son’s school performance and I asked him if he didn’t mind appearing on the stage as Darth Vader. Little did I know, that this innocent request has connected him with his Peter Pan soul. It’s like Peter Pan meets Darth Vader in the most comical way. It was the missing link!
My husband collects collectible movie memorabilia, a hobby that quickly covers the whole house, from our bedroom to living rooms, to guest rooms, to kitchen cabinets, to walls and to library. His “vision” is to use his toys as the house’s interior design.
There is no space for family pictures, paintings, diplomas, home ware accessories, let alone flower vase in our house. All the shelves and the tables are filled with his collectible toys, from small and medium to the biggest. From bust, bobble heads, to 12” real action heroes. From Starwars lightsabers and Millennium Falcon to Dark Knight’s tumbler and batpod. From George Lucas’ Starwars to DC and Marvel superheroes. These are his main course. As his side dish, he also collects 1:18 scale sport cars.
My husband even keeps the whole guest room for himself, a place to put all of the toys’ boxes. And dare I ask why? I’ll give you the answer anyway – because, according to him, a toy with its original box worth more than a toy without a box. One rare collectible item which comes with its original unopened box is literally priceless. It is (more than) a masterpiece to the hard-core collectors worldwide. (Gee, don’t they have a life? )
His hobby is dutifully passed down to Michael. Apple never falls far away from its tree. Mike was taught how to tell the difference among sport cars at the age of 3. From common ones like Ferrari and Porsche to not-so-common one like Bugatti Veyron, the fastest car on Earth. Michael began his own toy collecting soon after his 3rd birthday. It started with animals and aero planes, then to dinosaurs and cars.
Then came along the Disney’s Cars movie, his first theater movie. It suddenly changed his way in viewing toys. In no time, came along his Cars collection (which my husband gladly supplied him with every single Cars’ character). Then came Transformers, Ben 10 , Star Wars, and the rest of the superhero families. He is very fluent in naming each character in his collection and be able to tell you the story behind each of them. At the age of 5, he has his own small collection all over his room. His toy’s display covers the whole area of his study desk that it makes the real studying process an impossible task to do. I put some of his toys sealed in the boxes, not to prevent them from dust, but because I can’t find any more space available in his room to put his so-called-collectible-toys. My husband doesn’t help much in organizing Mike’s toys. He only plays and admires the collection. Once my husband invited the kids from our neighborhood to come inside our museum, all of them didn’t want to go home. Michael’s friends from school also find our place entertaining. It is a Toy Haven! (especially for the boys).
I personally don’t agree with the way Michael got his toys in the past. The encouragement from his father quickly spoils him. I, as a conservative parent, think that a kid will get a present – aside from birthday and Christmas - when he/she’s doing something remarkably good, like getting good grades or excel in a competition or helping other people out. But Michael saw toys in a different way. He saw it from the collector’s mind. I see events, he sees items. We’ve been trying to dial back Michael’s toy collecting habit ever since. Instead of getting a toy for granted, now he needs to see a toy as a gift – some sort of a reward - for him. This is a decision agreed by all the parties involved – my husband, me, and Michael. At first, it was hard for Michael, but he rolls along just fine now.
In contrast, Nina doesn’t really like toys. Perhaps it’s not her time yet, or perhaps because her father is not interested in collecting girl’s toys and her mother doesn’t really like toys herself. Nina does collect shoes, but the number of her shoe collection fails in comparison to Michael’s toy collection. Growing up in a house filled with boy’s toys, Nina became a master in this area too. She amazed other parents every time we visited a toy store because she could fluently and correctly name each character in the Ben 10, in Transformers and in Star Wars. She was only 2.5 years old at that time. She is quite handy in maneuvering a lightsaber on her own.
Due to her small sized body, she can only handle the Yoda’s lightsaber (because it’s the smallest lightsaber) compare to the other real size Jedi/Sith lightsabers. But this is as far as she would go. She is a cheerful participant, not a collector (phew.. Thank God). She never drools over toys or dolls. She likes Dora movies, but movie is not a toy, is it?
I often accuse my husband of being unfair to Nina. An accusation that always met by shrugged shoulders.
“Well, honey, Nina’s toys are within your department,” he answered.
Then I accuse him of being sexist. “How come Nina is allowed to play with boy’s toys, but Michael is forbidden to play with any of the girl’s toys. Not even one?”
To this my husband’s answer has always been “No. My toys and Michael’s are not solely for boys. They are universal, unisex toys. While Barbie, Dora and Princesses are exclusively for girls. They are not the same.”
“Still, it won’t hurt if Michael knows some of the Princesses’ names in the classic Princess stories.”
“Why? Better learn the history of Star Wars.. Why was Anakin Darth Vader...blablabla..”
What is it with boys and their maculinity? It’s OK for a girl to play with a GI Joe doll but not OK for a boy to play with a Barbie doll? I still manage to pull out one last argument with him “And you taught Nina how to fight with a lightsaber. It’s so boyish.”
“Non sense! Playing lightsaber is an art and it’s for self defense, dear. And it’s – again - universal. Open to all people regardless of their gender. By the way, lemme show you the starwars Imperial Shuttle on eBay. Oh, it would look sooo good next to my Millennium Falcon and my X wing fighter.”
Uh-oh, I panic! Where’s my mellyberry? I don’t want to listen to his toy lecture. I must pretend that I am busy doing something else...
note : All the pictures in this story are taken from our personal collection at home.