My son has a lot of action figures. They're not dolls. Dolls are cute. Action figures are all about, well, action. What intrigues me the most about my son's collection is the amount of time he takes assembling and transforming them from one shape or form to another. It is a rare occasion that he takes them all out and plays with them as a group. I find this odd, since it doesn't reflect my own experience in the Land Of Make-Believe.
My brothers and I owned a regiment of GI Joes. Not the little guys from the eighties, but the real and true guys who were three times taller. Some of them had life-like hair and beards. Some of them had Kung Fu grip. Some of them even talked, but none of them needed to advertised as a "Real American Hero." It was obvious from the vacant stare and the tell-tale scar on their right cheeks. Together we assembled some of the most stressful and challenging missions three boys in suburban Boulder, Colorado could imagine.
Still, these were nothing compared to what awaited them just down the street. Heidi had as many Barbies as I had Joes, and for a few shining moments in my youth, GI Joe got to see more than his share of action. It wasn't anything nasty, but if the other guys in the neighborhood found out, I would never hear the end of it.
Most of the time, my Joes were rescuing Heidi's Barbies from some desperate situation or other. There were perilous situations that arose on top of a stack of couch cushions. Sometimes a jealous Ken would kidnap Barbie and hold her hostage in her fold-out vinyl penthouse. Ken was no match for the charisma of any Joe, clean-shaven or not. All of these adventures ended up the same way: A full-dress military wedding with Skipper and Francie as bridesmaids.
Then it was time to pack up the footlocker and head on home. I can't imagine that any of my son's Transformers or Bionicles would have anything to do with Barbie, even if there was a neighborhood girl who would admit to owning a Barbie. In the meantime, he'll keep building and rearranging them, waiting for that call to action.