When I was a youngster, I had plenty of action figures. The thing was that there never seemed to be enough bad guys. In my Star Wars collection, I only had one Stormtrooper, one AT-AT Driver, one TIE Fighter Pilot, one Snow Trooper and one Biker Scout. Sure, they were all a sort of Stormtrooper, but they all didn’t look alike, so I didn’t have that “shock value” you need for your heroes when he suddenly comes across a legion of troopers.
In fact, that shock is best illustrated in the 1997 Special Edition of “Star Wars” when Han Solo and Chewbacca come dashing around a corner screaming their heads off, only to encounter a wall of Stormtroopers.
But as a kid, I never knew how exactly to represent that. They were all toy soldiers, but they never looked alike.
Collecting G.I. Joe
Years later, I’ve become quite a collector of G.I. Joe figures, probably the premiere brand of toy soldiers. Word had gotten around enough that one of my friends, who had planned to move later that summer. One day, he handed me a box full of G.I. Joe figures, complete with weapons, backpacks and file cards.
It was a collection of about 60 figures in total. A generous donation for sure.
Inside that box, I found that my friend, all those years ago, had figured out the secret to an enemy army of toy soldiers: You buy lots of the same character.
For him (and probably tons of other kids out there), it was probably a no-duh solution. But for me, I just wouldn’t have even considered it.
Buy another Stormtrooper … or buy that weird alien you see for half a second in Jabba’s palace?
Back then, I always went with the new character. But now? I might just buy a few more Stormtroopers and Cobra infantry soldiers.
Thankfully, Hasbro, the maker of G.I. Joe and the current maker of Star Wars toys, has already solved this. They sell some of their troop figures in packs now. Visit any toy store and you’ll see them.
All I can say is that I sure wish they thought of that when I was a kid!