The Perils of Plastic: Transformers
Transformers were action figures, vehicles, puzzles and physical representations of characters that I could watch on their television adventures every day after school. They were everything in one toy and my friend from across the street and I absolutely loved them. Together, our collections were so planned that we had no duplicate characters between us: I had Rodimus Prime and Galvatron, he had Optimus Prime and Megatron. I had Abominus and he had Superion. I had Hook and he interestingly had all of the Constructions except for Hook. He actually convinced me to just leave Hook with him all the time since he was useless to me without the others. Guess where he is now that we haven't talked since the nineties. Hint: I still have all of my Transformers from childhood. There is no Construction representative among them.
We didn't just differ in the figures that we owned. My figures were stored and transported in an empty Scorponok box while his figures were nestled cozily in their styrofoam trays and original boxes. Every single time, the pieces for Megatron's stock and silencer were taken out, played with, then put back in. He didn't like his toys more than I liked mine just because of the way he stored them, but he did take better care of them. This leads directly into what I like to call "The Incident" or "Optimus Prime's Last Flight."
I was about ten years old. My friend and I were I were in my living room, setting the stage for a huge battle. I was playing the Autobots and he was the Decepticons, so while he was off building my Abominus, I was commandeering his Optimus Prime. Enter frame left, from the main hallway: My sister. She said something that sent me into a fury, so I grabbed the nearest figure, which happened to be Optimus Prime, and unsuccessfully hurled it at her. Somewhere between Optimus sailing through the air to sounds of my other sister playing "Lets Hear It for the Boy" on the record player from the next room and smacking his shoulder on the hard tile floor just inches after where the soft, padded carpet ended, I realized what I had done. I felt a nervous sweat overtake me as I quickly leaped across the room, scooped up Optimus and his geographically separated arm, then raced down the hallway and into my room, slammed the door and hoped he didn't see what happened.
As I sat on the side of my bed, trying to weld his arm back on with nothing but hopes and all of the pressure that skinny little ten year old me could apply, there was knock at the door. Through the door, I heard a defeated "Can I have my Optimus back?" I knew there was no hiding this. I had to fess up and tell him.
I opened the door and handed him that red and blue gentleman of an Autobot, followed hesitantly by his arm. "It broke," I mumbled.
"I know, he replied." He packed his figures into their styrofoam, slid them into the boxes and headed home. The war would have to wait.
I was about to find out that my friend was cold, calculating, and worst of all, patient. A few uneventful months later, another big Cybertronian battle was about to take place, this time on his turf. I reached into my Scorponok box and began pulling figures out: Kup, Thundercracker, Misfire, Sunstreaker, Metroplex's legs. My eyes went wide. Metroplex's legs?! I rummaged and grabbed the torso with my other hand and frantically trying to piece him back together, hoping he just came unpegged or something equally simple to remedy. No luck. He was snapped at the waist. I leered at my friend that Metroplex was broken, he looked over at me, let out a nonchalant "Huh," then went back to polishing his Megatron or something. This guy flat out snapped my Metroplex at the waist.
He never admitted to the intentional act of maiming an innocent citybot, but I know what happened. Metroplex was a highly regarded piece in my collection, so who better to make a point with? Crazy glue. Tape. Nothing worked. I had to balance his torso on his waist like a every time he came out of that box. His arms had to point down or it would topple off, so I couldn't even get him into action poses. It hurt my little heart.
I purchased a rough looking Metroplex a couple of decades later that was kind enough to donate his intact waist piece. Metroplex was fixed and to this day, he's ready to defend his brethren with arms that can move without fear of splitting in two. As for Optimus, I'm certain he's out there somewhere, nestled in his styrofoam box with an arm that's never been repaired and in close proximity to my Hook.