Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some old friends...

Whether it's reasonable justification, or pure and simple hypocrisy, my progress in letting things go is compounded by a mad obsession with surrounding myself with things I enjoy, or if we're being honest, toys of a new era.

For some reason (other than the fact that I'm a hoarder, and there's possibly eight dead cats strewn about the garbage in my room), I want to wear my heart on my sleeve, to show off things that I like. I never want to get rid of my favourite video games. Whether or not I ever play them anymore, I want to hold onto them, to show everyone out there... 'Hey! I played Sonic & Knuckles! It's part of who I am!!'

In a similar fashion, I chose to collect two of my favourite athletes of all time, Steve McNair and Eddie George and proudly brandish them atop a bookshelf that is in our spare room, and few people ever actually see. And funnily enough, I have no buyer's remorse whatsoever. Someday, in my great big billion dollar mansion with rooms the size of airports and stairways that lead to nowhere, the figures will stand tall in a man cave to be proud of.

But really, I've given this far more thought than I probably needed to. In short, I got some more toyz. Online shopping sprees, they're dangerous things.

We commence with this handsome Jose Bautista bust, slugger of Toronto Blue Jays fame. Despite the Blue Jays being the very first team I was ever a fan of, primarily because dad had a Jays sweater I enjoyed looking at, I'd say there are fewer Jays in the all-time echelons of my favourite athletes than in my other teams. Nearly all of them played during the glorious years of back-to-back pennants, save a few obvious exceptions: Stieb, Delgado, Halladay et al.

In Jose Bautista, the Jays have had a true superstar, garnering the rare adulation that Toronto-based athletes often deserve but often miss out on. He's our modern-day Joe Carter, only with a better OBP, keener defensive abilities, and at least 99% more Dominican conversations.

Hacking through his plastic enclosure to yank him open feels mildly perverse, like bulldozing a rainforest, or performing a really unpleasant Caesarean section. Frankly, it doesn't feel like he wants to come out to play: he's held in place with a cable tie, and then, shockingly, his right leg is held in place by a hole in the plastic. I don't know why, but it's no wonder he was injured so much last year. That's dangerous, man!

Eventually however, he's freed from his transparent hub. In the process, I manage to do minor damage to his bat, as I didn't realise it was held in with a layer of tape, and came into two pieces. It's supposed to detach, apparently, but not so violently. I'll pretend it was wear and tear caused by dingers. Or, if I were at bat, a pop fly that lands harmlessly in the glove of the pitcher.

As is to be expected, he's a striking young figure (no pun intended, unless it was funny), obviously thicker than his more lithe cohorts of other sports, and with a more intense glare. Personally, I would have made the figure sporting Joey Bat's awesome reflective sunglasses, but I guess sacrifices have to be made. He probably would have looked a little bit nonchalant with them on, like he was just chilling at the beach, wearing entirely inappropriate beach wear.

At first, getting his bat in his hand felt so difficult, I almost contemplated leaving it out. Without it, he's just doing the cha-cha, or launching a Kamehameha. I'm cool with that. I really don't want to snap his arm off and ruin the whole figure, when suddenly...

The arm wretches aside! What is this? His arms are... movable? What a shocking revelation! After years of just accepting that these fellas were locked into their respective positions, but Jose chooses to freely flail his arms about in the interest of making that perfect batting stance. Unfortunately, it now means I have two unwilling hands to force that bat through rather than one, but I'll live with it. Whether he will remains to be seen.

Our next subject is Chris Bosh, formerly of the Toronto Raptors. Rather amusingly, he comes packaged without legs.

Despite this, he's still better than anyone currently on the Raptors roster. Also, it means that I could recreate the scene from Robocop 2 where Murphy gets dismantled, if I wanted to. ...I don't think I want to.

The first thing that strikes me upon unleashing the Boshtrich is that... wow, he's really tall! I mean, it's to be expected when your subject matter stands at 6-10, but beyond that, the box reveals that this model happens to be 11½ inches tall, or exactly four inches taller than Muggsy Bogues.

One of the things I like about the McFarlane figures is that, whenever a player moves to a new team, their model is rereleased with an updated look. Sometimes, it's with a new pose and whatnot, but in the case of Mr. Bosh, it was in the exact same pose, only sporting a Miami jersey and a shaved head, as is his current look. If they were being truly accurate, the new Heat model of Bosh would come complete without the ball in his hand.

Oh, I kid. I kid because I love. As Scott Carefoot once pointed out, and yes, I realise I'm heavy-handed with the links today, Chris Bosh cops a lot of shit from fans, primarily because of how awkward he is. The other guys around him, LeBron and D-Wade, they're pretty cool, y'know? Pretty slick (like LeBron's forehead). But our boy Bosh? He's just this lanky dude who sometimes looks like a lizard. No reason to hate on that. Indeed, all the more reason to cheer for him. He'll always be a Raptor to me, perhaps primarily because he so resembles one.

Once I've finally gotten his legs on (one fell off onto my lap at one point. It was horrifying), I perch him upon his stand, and good lord, this thing really is huge!!

As you can see, Bosh towers over the once-hulking Jose Bautista, ready to dunk all up in the face of Felix Baumgartner. In fact, Jose looks like Joe Pesci, about to crack the kneecaps of this enormous beast. Truly, I fear for Bosh's safety up there: he's held in place by a sturdy little piece of metal, but he still wiggles when I touch him. It's actually really fun to poke him and watch him bob back and forth, but I surmise that it's not the best way to maintain the figure.

...Just one more poke. Hehe!

Now we meet Ryan Kesler. His box is dustier than the others, which makes me feel as though I am the only one who is buying Ryan Kesler. If I know my countrymen as well as I think I do, I figure a great deal of this is due to his being American. What do fellow Vancouver Canucks Kevin Bieksa, Roberto Luongo and Maxim Lapierre all have in common? They are all Canadian, and as such, they will always have that homegrown love. What else do they have in common? None of them are very good goalies.

I'll stop now. Because I have a near-legitimate fear that everyone I've talked smack about (Bosh, Luongo and the entirety of the 2013 Toronto Raptors) will come and get me. Which would be really cool for a photo opportunity, but ultimately dangerous to my person and my personal belongings. They might even poke my Bosh figure. Dangerous!

Ryan Kesler comes with a removable hockey stick, a tiny little puck I think I'll lose by the end of this sentence, and a shocked expression on his face. Maybe he's shocked that he's responsible for that tiny little puck, wherever it went. His pose is quite amazing, because he's leaning over so far he looks like he'll fall at any second, and it makes me really appreciate the grace and athleticism of hockey players. I mean, imagine being in that position on a field or a court, you'd lose your balance, right? Then imagine doing that on the ice, while being chased by many men with few teeth. Now I understand the look of alarm on Kesler's mug.

And finally, last but not least, the coup de grâce, the mack daddy, the man who garners more animosity from the Toronto faithful than perhaps anyone else (though really, that hatred should be directed at Hedo Turkoglu)...

Vince Carter.

For years, I bemoaned his name. The former Raptors' superstar, one of the biggest names in the league, who brought excitement to the young franchise with his sheer athletic prowess and bevy of amazing dunks. Then, after six years, things went south. Vince was traded for peanuts to New Jersey, and the divorce was less than amicable. It took me almost a decade to get over it, and now, I look back fondly on who he was for us, and what he did for us, rather than how it all ended.

And now, he's in my house. This particular figure is modelled after one of Vince's finest moments, his triumphant performance in the 2000 Dunk Contest, with a series of jams that many consider to be the best of all time. Perhaps it's appropriate that I got this figure in a year when Terrence Ross became the second Raptor of all time to win the contest? Perhaps it's fate? Perhaps it's coincidence? Perhaps I was just shit scared that if I waited much longer, the Vince figure would no longer be available in Raptors garb? ...Yeah, that was it.

Just like Chris Bosh, Vince is in mid-flight, but unlike his crimson ally, Vince tragically has the metal jutting right into his knee. Which frankly, you'd think would hurt his ability to jump. It might be my misty-eyed nostalgia, but I think this one is my favourite. It represents one of the highlights of my tragic tenure as a sport fan (bested only by Sidney Crosby's golden goal and the day that Joe Carter touched 'em all), and it will be forever immortalised upon my mantle, at least until one of several things happen (theft, earthquake, or angry fiancé furious that I spent all this money on toys).

And so, my set is complete, for now. There are other athletes who hold a place close to my heart, and inevitably there will be many more on the horizon. I look forward to watching this collection grow (as long as it doesn't become obsessive, which it most likely will), because there's always room for winners in my home.

...Fingers crossed, the next one is Andrew Wiggins after he leads Toronto to an NBA title.

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