Father’s Day is this weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to revisit and expand upon my article from last year?
Some fathers go fishing or hunting with their sons; others bond over golf, or tinker with cars. I have friends that regularly camp with their sons, and play guitar, and build their relationship through sports. And sadly, some fathers don’t share much of anything with their sons at all.
But my own father, he and I always had three things we shared – playing and coaching athletics (basketball and baseball in particular); an unwavering love for the hapless Chicago Cubs; and most importantly…collecting.
Over the years, we have shared many other activities together, but the collecting really is a unique bond. Being from an older generation, he never thought to collect toys, but as a child he amassed a good collection of comics and had an affinity for superheroes, Hawkman in particular. These 1940s comics were among the earliest issues of All-American Comics, Flash Comics, and All-Star Comics, and they were heartbreakingly thrown away by his family when he was older. He enjoyed the radio serials like The Green Hornet, Captain Midnight, The Shadow, and Blue Beetle, and in many ways, preferred that imaginative format over the printed comics and movies of modern times, but he’s always had an appreciation for the superhero genre in all formats. He also collected other items later in life, but most importantly vintage and rare coins. The collecting gene was already brewing well before I entered the world.
As a child of the 80s, I managed to obtain nearly every action-figure toyline of that era (*coughSPOILEDcough*). Not just the standard Star Wars/G.I.Joe/He-man/Transformers items that nearly every kid had, but also more obscure lines like Sectaurs, Visionaries, Centurions, Power Lords, Air Raiders, and Starriors. Even when I grew older, and became painfully aware of how “uncool” all these toys might be viewed by others, my father never treated my love of this hobby as an oddity, or something to be ashamed of, even though it might have been considered juvenile, decidedly weird, and not especially masculine. When I left for college out-of-state, he allowed me to store all of these toys in my parents garage, and continued to keep these items for many years until I was ready to get them, despite his many chances to sell or simply get rid of them. He knew how much these silly things meant to me.
Throughout my life, he was always there after work to drive me around on toy runs, and share a lazy Saturday afternoon in the enjoyment of the simple joy of collecting these childhood mementos. He and I would hunt down the latest G.I.Joe figures at Lionel Playworld, or go search for the latest Masters of the Universe figures at the Toys By Roy and Hobby Bench at the local shopping mall. And when I would accompany him on cross-country business roadtrips, he would stop at nearly every store that carried toys to look for Super Powers and Secret Wars. And when I wasn’t with him, he would call and ask if I had the specific figure he saw during his solo toy run. When he returned from East Coast trips, he would bring back some amazing M.A.S.K toy that hadn’t been released yet in Arizona, much to the wonder and amazement of my friends. The times we shared on our various toy adventures are some of the best memories of my life.
To this day, my Dad still supports my collecting, and through it all, he has never judged me for liking these strange things. He never asked me to explain the appeal, or encourage me question it or doubt who I am. And I’ve passed on that acceptance and enthusiasm for collecting to my own young son, who thoroughly enjoys playing with all of these amazingly awesome vintage toys from my childhood and has amassed quite a collection of his own interests. We share the same joy of toy hunting that my Dad shared with me, and when my parents visit, the three of us always go on a toy run or two and we reminisce about the various adventures we shared through the years.
So to my Father, who has supported this crazy hobby of mine for over a quarter of a century, no matter how absurd it was to my family or anyone else – Happy Fathers Day.