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Tuesday, November 21, 2006
  Action League Now! And Then!

Everytime I'll reminisce about an old favorite of mine - something, anything that reminds me of my childhood - I'll think back to some creation of my own from those golden days of yesteryear as well... Deal?
DEAL! :-)



The concept of ACTION LEAGUE NOW! was a realization of my own idea (as most everything I see being published or put on screen, really...!)

It originated on one show, moved on to another (the legendary ''Kablam'' - it is legendary by now, is it not?) and then got an extremely short-lived spin-off all its own - to no avail. It was original and funny but, you see, it wasn't all that it could have been - because it wasn't my team! (I could even go as far, in fact, to state that the ACTION of the same genre that is seen on this particular Payolas video-clip is closer to the excellence that I achieved with my very own action figures - but that might be too much for the ALN! to handle, perhaps...?)

For, you see, my own such ''league'' comprised an odd assemblage of action figures that didn't really fit well together as a team - EXACTLY LIKE the rag-tag toys that comprised ACTION LEAGUE NOW! There was virtually no difference between the two concepts - all the way down to the narrator\omniscient director whose hand you'd see sometime ''break down the fourth wall'' JUST LIKE I WOULD HAVE!
What-a-coincidence - eh? ;-)

My team held several edges however - that shall be made crystal-clear in what follows here!

Though it is not fair to compare and all...
Let's compare! ;)

My team had a Mego-doll-sized everyman type of hero that I alternatively had pose as Tarzan or as Bobby Orr (once he put on the Boston Bruins jersey that had once belonged to my vintage Bobby Orr figure - forever lost to the meandering playtime that I would devote to my early luminous imaginings...! In other words, I have no idea where my Bobby Orr doll wound up! Maybe cousin Rosa's Barbie kidnapped him? Would make sense... But I digress...)

Also part of this team of mine was a ''pocket-size'' masked soldier - a G.I. by any other name but not just any Joe (!) - who was, in many ways, the leader-figure of this team (note here that I am not saying if it was in fact a ''Snake-Eyes'' figure or not! Might have been - might have not been. I shall remain mum about it! Not gonna tell you! Uh-huh! You can't get it out of me! Not even under torture! Nope! No way! It will go down as another great mystery of life - a little mystery, but a mystery still! Oh, okay - it was a Snake Eyes. Happy now? I owe not G.I. Joe a dime over this; after all, at the time, they translated the character's name -quite unimaginatively enough- into... Zorro! Can you imagine? Zorro! HA! I hope they got sued for that! But they likely did not - so they better not sue me for making use of their silly little taciturn toy foot soldier in the way described here now - they better NOT! *lol*)

Rounding up this team were a *Masters of the Universe* reject; a generic wrestler from the always dependable dollar store; a skinny, unicolor die-cast anonymous character that was passing for a famous secret agent (NOT the one you think!) and another generic wrestler! All of these had the advantage of being just about the same height - so they made for a cohesive unit, at least - though a bland one lacking in (you've guessed it) character and pizazz...!

It was MY JOB to remedy to that - and I sure did just that! In splendid brilliant-luminous fashion, I might add! ;)

Still, I needed STARS in my group - not just any stars either... Since I couldn't find them anywhere, I took to MAKING THEM MYSELF! I would soon introduce my own characters into the fray! Not as some will dare to do nowadays (I have seen kids today commit the unrepairable and the unforgiveable too: repainting an existing character figure to give it the identity and look of a totally different character! That way, they think that they've corrected a wrong; by giving an action figure to a deserving character that never had an action figure done in its image before... Alas, they do so by desacrating an existing figure in the process! What an abominable sacrilege, eh? *lol* Two wrongs do not make a right - and, even though some characters are overdone while others are NEVER done, turning, say, an umpteenth Batman figure into a Black Bolt figure is simply NOT OK...! Marvel does not cause its fanboys (aka marvel zombies) to do this sort of thing anymore - having issued figures in the likeness of virtually ALL of their crappy characters in recent years - to the point of saturation and overkill! I mean, here we thought Star Wars was overdoing it bad: at least it has a finite number of losers to convert into plastic! Whereas Marvel and their dastardly competiton have got hundreds of thousands, all together? But they'll keep cranking them up, somehow - Marvel will, yes, if only because DC is dishing them out too, at the exact same pace, via DC Direct! It is DC Direct versus Marvel Select, aye. And they said competition was a GOOD thing...?!? Think of all the WASTE that it incurs - all the waste of materials, cash and talent infused into issueing these allegedly ''sought-after collectibles'' - all these resources could DEFINITELY be put to better use... As could be the money those collectors inject into purchasing these crappy things! Oh well - better that than drugs, eh? But I've digressed yet again...)

Back in the day, hence, I made my own stars too - simply not by transforming an existing action figure! (Well, not too much anyhow! I did say at the top that I dressed up a generic toy as Bobby Orr - he became thus a substitute Boston Bruin! Not Orr but someone else, of course! (The Bruins organization sure know that no one can replace Bobby Orr - no one ever truly did since he left the team and hockey overall! I knew so much as well, even back then as a wee bit lad! My Bruins was a third-liner or fifth defenseman, at best...! But that is another story...)
I never did more than that though - just gave a new identity or vocation to an existing figure and that's that! To me it was an upgrade - enhancing a character-devoid piece of plastic! So it was good!
I also made my own stars with paper, cardboard and coloring pencils instead!
I drew my own characters, pasted them onto some cardboard (to give them some substance as some backbone too!) and then I'd just cut them out! :-)
Hence we had some extras to participate in the luminous adventures of my team - aside from the big stars everyone could readily recognize (because I also had the Star Wars, Super Powers, MOTU, G.I. JOEs and other big-name action figures lying around, you know...! I pratically had them all and yet I preferred to verse into creativity and inject character where it wasn't, or create new characters! Sue me, willya?)

When my very own artistic talents did not suffice to satisfy my own demands, I'd use someone else's graphic depictions, paste them onto cardboard and use THAT in my little homemade ''Action Figure Theater''...! ;-)

Quite a Masterpiece Theatre in Miniature it was too... Yes...! *lol*
I'll post some pictures some time - but not this time out, ok?

Just like the Action League Now characters, my heroes were very much aware of their true predicament... Yes, they knew! They were aware that they were caught in a gigantic house - where the toilet bowl could be viewed as a fetid collective grave (for those made out of paper, anyhow, it was! *LOL*)

My team knew that it was in a home full of dangers for their tiny selves - pretty much any household appliance was a gigantic mechanical monster to be tamed; a fall from the kitchen table meant certain doom (especially if the cat was around) and, speaking of the cat, there was no more gruesome death than to finish off in the moving sands of the litterbox! :-( *ROTFLMAO*

In short, they knew their place in "my world"...! ;-)

I will deem my own 'league' more imaginative than ALN because of the following:

a) They were not mere ''toys'' - but living beings somehow SHRUNK DOWN to toy size! (A-ha!) Such was my luminous storyline, aye! It was all some evil spell's nefarious work, I tell ya... (I invoke now the all-important clause of suspension of disbelief!)

b) I was not a part of the proceedings - I was just the director!
Oh - and producer! Sometimes narrator too! ;-)

c) Whereas a light bulb was a light bulb and a mirror a mirror on ACTION LEAGUE NOW!, my ''mini-universe'' (microcosm is the word!) had many fascinating particularities... The light-bulbs in each room were VORTEXES that led back to the "real (full scale) world" OR to other dimensions (depending on how the fancy hit me that day, during playtime!) and the mirrors in each room led to no other place other than... Hades! The Land of the Dead! Or Hell, as Christians think of it! (Two different places; but let's not get into that now!) I was paying homage, in doing so, to a movie I had seen early on in life that had marked my youthful psyche:
Jean Cocteau's Orphée!
Yeah... I was an imaginative kid!
And unusually sophisticated for my age too! :-)

So... The question burning on everyone's own imaginative mind right now is...
WHO WOULD WIN? Right? ;-)
Who would win in a battle opposing ACTION LEAGUE NOW to my own LITTLE LUMINOUS LEAGUE of yesteryear (that both predates and yet comes 'officially' after the former! Confused? Good for you!)

Let's look at it match-up by match-up, shall we?
(That's something I loved to do, as a kid - analyze things point by point, especially when it came to opposing two teams...! And, somehow, I just kept doing it that way in my teens and as a young adult - go figure, eh? But let's leave all that for another story too...!)

Here we go:

ACTION LEAGUE NOW ..... vs ....... LITTLE LUMINOUS LEAGUE
Stinky Diver .................... Masked Man (My SnakeEyes) WINS!
The Flesh (their muscle man) .......... Boston Bruin WINS!
Meltman (don't ask!) ................. Wrestler #1 (Art) WINS!
Thundergirl (Barbie meets She-Ra) ...... Wrestler #2 (Ben) WINS!
The Chief & his pooch Justice ......... Grizz (M.o.t.U. reject) WINS!
The Mayor (don't ask) ............... My spy guy WINS!
Bill the Lab Guy ................. Bill Nye The Science Guy WINS!

IT'S A CLEAN SWEEP! YAY! HURRAY FOR OUR SIDE!
Okay, I may have cheated a little bit there - but COME ON NOW!
Just about ANY CHARACTER ANYONE COULD EVER DEVISE IN ANY PART OF THE GLOBE could mop the floor with the nerdy ''Bill The Lab Guy''...!
(Like, Les Éditions Héritage's sponsored wonder boy's creation - "Caquette"? Even THAT could beat the stuffing out of Bill The Lab Guy! Besides, Bill Nye and I were destined to be the best of friends - it was just that other Bill that got in the way of our friendship: not the Lab Guy! Gates! But that is another theory - and story - for another time!)

And if you are of the opinion that a special opponent is needed for Bill's daughter (sporadic recurring cameo named 'Quirky') and Thundergirl, both, I can provide someone there too...! I did have some female characters; just no dolls! *lol*
Sorry to disappoint you, fledgling shrinks out there who may be reading this, but NO - I did not play with dolls! The closest I came to do that was when I kidnapped my cousin's Barbies (which is why I suspect they took their revenge by kidnapping my invaluable, invincible Bobby Orr in turn! See - it is always logical with me - even when we're dealing with such trivial things as... toy talk! *lol*)
Yes, I confess - I kidnapped my cuz's Barbies, stuffed them all (along with my own toys) into their silly little ''Barbie Camper'' (looked like a van to me!) and pushed the vehicle off the top of the stairs! :-)
Whammo - what priceless memories those terrible accidents imprinted on me, I tell you! You just can't replace these! The sheer memory of that "camper" careening down the stairs (and coming undone in the process - but not too much! I mean, it was still in one piece by the time it got to the bottom of the stairs!) - ahh, it brings tears to my eyes, really! Tears of joy, granted! ;-)
(My cousin's fury over it all is especially precious memory material there! ;-)
I wish I could go back to those innocent days, sometimes... Seeing Rosa get mad is such a funny sight - even to this day! But - yes, it is digressing... Again!)

As my toy collection augmented, it became irremediably less original, even if, paradoxically, richer. Of course, it could not be any other way when one gives in to blatant merchandising of hotshot flash-in-the-pan licensed properties...!
As much as I liked them, my acquisition of hot toys soon left me blasé (the 1001 Star Wars figures; and Super Powers (or whatever DC Comics used to have before!); G.I. Joe, certainly (their assorted Cobra foes made for very interesting foils for the better-known super heroes and jedis! For that matter, the various aliens in Star Wars made for great spontaneous new foes for my heroes! Still... My expanded roster of a character-base also included Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, Marvel Super Heroes, Universal Monsters, Star Trek even! I would throw in everything I had really - Dinosaurs, Smurfs, Astérix (European exclusive), Goldorak, Gojira, Cowboys & Indians...!!! Generic or not, they were all part of ONE SAGA - my everlasting epic that transcended time and space but never logic (too much)! With all these toys, my LLL got lost in the shuffle and disbanded, quite sadly as simply!

Well, it is true also that upon reaching teendom, of course, the ''everlasting'' part of the so-called epic was quickly forgotten - and these action figures went into storage bins... Where they are still residing to this day!

Aye, I kept them all, at least! Others threw their ''junk'' away - not me! It is not ''junk'' anyway - they are collectibles now! ;-)

I did lose some valuable pieces along the way though: my aforementioned Bobby Orr; my Six Million Dollar Man; my official Mego dolls of Aquaman, Batman and Superman; my ''Pocket Heroes' versions of Aquaman & Superman too (and a Wonder Woman as well - not a ''doll'' technically! An action figure - ok?)
I recall a Hulk figure too - who lost its limbs after one too many swims with me in the pool! (Spider-Man survived - somehow!)
I even lost a rare WYATT EARP figure I had! (I should have seen it coming too; the Earp figure lost his white cowboy hat first, in the same pool! I cannot recall how I lost the figure itself though... WYATT EARP. I told I was a sophisticated kid, eh? But I'm digressing once more.)

Why couldn't I have ''lost'' those execrable Hulk Hogan figures forced down my throat instead of all of the above, huh? I would even sacrifice a Ric Flair figure to retrieve one of my Mego heroes - or Bobby! :-(

What else... I lost two marquee plush toys - a vintage Santa Claus (that inspired me a categorically different character) and a very collectible plush Ronald McDonald too! :-(

Oh - and if I had managed to keep it ''alive'' long enough, my trademark rubber tiger would have made it into my ''team'' there - it was always in my hands on many pictures taken in the 70s. Clearly my favorite toy, the rubber tiger was always heavily bandaged though - its paws kept falling off! :-(

I remember that my dear Dad had bought me several REPLACEMENT Rubber Tiger ones - until one day we just realized that the material was too cheap and ''investing'' in such a toy (even though I liked the tiger's ''roaring look'' and all) was a waste of time, money and sheer perseverance too...! I had this thing about tigers - and it wasn't Tony The Tiger that triggered it either! Oh well...

I think all that just about sums up the *potential* ranking of my own league...!
:-)

Of course, the ALN! had some competition to deal with already, but still...



It is no wonder at all that my team would win -
for it is really a LITTLE LUMINOUS LEGION versus ACTION LEAGUE NOW!
Through sheer numbers, my guys would trample all over those Nicktoons nincompoops!
And if you think that would be cheating, you have to tell me what your definition of cheating really is - and how it interferes with my definition of CREATIVITY here!
;-)

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Born in the Age of Aquarius, destined to seek out truths in many an art form, trained as a historian and a journalist but truly a prose-lover... Luciano is out to dispel any clichés and reinvent them all both to the tune of a little something called the truth as also to his own image - being old-fashioned, he does not mind that distinction one infinitesimal tiny bit at all...! "There are two ways to spread the light; be the candle... or the mirror that reflects It." I have chosen to be the latter... okay? ~*~ "To be not only a seeker of light... but a dream weaver of light" ~*~ For as surely as the moon reflects the light from the sun, you and I can reflect the Light from Above - and be, indeed, the light of this world! ~*~*~*~

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