I read a haiku today about Ken - Barbie's boyfriend. It suggested that for a guy who had such a limited codpiece that he sure had his pick of the plastic chicks. Maybe he was that most rare of creatures - the Nice Safe Male. I played very much the same role for many years myself, but that's not what we're going to discuss here and now.
Instead I would like to take a few moments to celebrate the real stud of the doll world: GI Joe. When Heidi Wullschleger brought her Barbies over, Joe put in a request for extended leave. Skipper and Midge would toss Ken over in a second for a man in uniform. I am speaking at this point of the standard issue, twelve-inch variety - not the pathetic three and three quarters inch petite enemy of Cobra. Mine were rugged, fully jointed and poseable men of action. They sported life-like hair and a scar on his right cheek, left hand cupped to hold his rifle, right hand poised with his trigger finger extended. Joe was locked, loaded, and looking for a good time. By the end of the afternoon, there was always an elaborate wedding with much pomp, circumstance and small arms fire.
Joe provided me a link with that make believe world of "action figures" (dolls). Aside from the aforementioned adventures with Barbie and her friends, Joe opened a world of scientific possibilities as well. If you tie a string around the neck of a GI Joe and drag him behind the family station wagon down a dirt road, how many miles will it be before one has to shout at the driver to report that Joe has "accidentally" fallen out of the car? How many hours does it take to freeze Joe solid in a coffee can full of water? From what height will Joe's torso shatter when dropped off a cliff? Inquiring minds want to know.
Then there was the horrible mutations visited on my younger brother's astronaut Joe. Probably because he was so young, blonde and fresh shaven - he begged for abuse. We gave him a mohawk with an exacto knife and surgically implanted a dog's nose on his face. He deserved better. Later we painted him black and green and ran another in a series of "stress tests" on his 21 movable parts. Astro-Joe left this world as a pile of melted slag - he wasn't up to the lighter fluid. My guess is Ken would have fainted dead away at the sight of the kitchen matches.