Even though I attended a small school where all grades from primary to grade twelve were in the same building, there was a psychological break between grades six and seven. What in really wasn’t that big of a deal felt enormous at the time. We’re only moving between school ending in late June and school returning in early September. And yet it seemed to mark this huge change, make this big difference.
Grade six was for children. Grade seven was for adults. Or adults as seen through the eyes of twelve year olds.
Twelve years old was also perceived by many as the age in which boys put down their toys and picked up with girls. To risk doing otherwise was to risk stigmitizing one’s self as a child, and one ran the risk of having that stigma remain for one’s entire high school career. And who really wanted to do that.
In 1985, I was twelve years old.
What this meant was that the toys I got for Christmas 1984 — notably the G.I.Joe Killer Whale and the Decepticons Soundwave and Buzzsaw (my first transformers) — were meant to be discarded within eight short months. Well, not meant as much as predestined. To do otherwise was to risk the above mentioned stigma.
So I went underground.
Now that was actually quite easy for me to do. The only toy line I really collected and really connected with was G.I.Joe. Micronauts were just outside my time horizon (although I had a few pieces) and Star Wars seemed lacking because of the absence of joints. But I was all about G.I.Joe, mainly because my buddies (exactly one grade behind me in school but within a six house radius of mine) were all about G.I.Joe. And because my buddies were still a year younger than me, it was relatively easy to continue to pick up a few pieces here and there and fully enjoy my G.I.Joes. I even still got toys for Christmas the next year, notably the G.I.Joe Tactical Battle Platform (if there was ever a toy that encouraged kids to want to work on an oil platform, this was it!) and the Cobra Moray.
And then we were in 1986, and my G.I.Joe days were truly done.
In 1986, my younger friends hit the point I was suppose to have hit, and I actually didn’t feel much like playing with toys anymore. Others who I knew had gone undercover as well (one friend in particular had been inspired to buy the entire line of Coleco’s Sectaurs figures) lost their taste for it. So I carefully wrapped up my G.I.Joes and put them into storage (avoiding the familiar pattern of either blowing them up with a fire cracker or selling them at yard sales for a quarter a figure). And promptly forgot about them until today.
Okay, that’s all true except for the promptly forgetting about them part. Instead, I quietly got hooked on Transformers. But that’s a story for another day.