'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...but I can assure you that over the years, this geek was often stirring. It was always very challenging for me and my identical twin brother to wait to run down the stairs and check out what was under the tree. Growing up, our Christmas holidays were very traditional. No present were ever opened on Christmas Eve and we could not go downstairs on Christmas morning until the sun came up. Sometimes, that meant sitting on the top step until the sun barely peaked over the horizon. Back then, I didn't realize that often my parents had only been in bed a few hours after prepping the gifts. Santa Claus did not wrap gifts and everything was generally assembled. These are some of my favorite gifts I received over the years, and many of them that helped mold me into the geek I am today!
First class birthday party in kindergarten: We received this wonderfully awesome Batvan. How fantastic with the escape hatch in the top and the cage that could be slammed down to capture the villains as they tried to escape! Well, I can honestly say, that Batman's tools have advanced tremendously over the last 35 years or so and thankfully so have the toys! This is evident in the next bit of memorabilia, The BatCave!
Once again, The Batcave lacked a certain sophistication that might be found in the newest Imaginext version. However, it was still amazing to slide down the Batpole and have the dynamic duo jump into the Batmobile and speed through the secret entrance. We played with it until the plastic cracked! But our superhero Christmas wishes were never limited to just DC Comics.
At the time (pre-Kenner Star Wars action figures), all good geeks know that the figures were all GI Joe size. They could give Barbie a run for her money! But the Spiderman car was perfect for capturing the badguys in the net that dropped from the back. Incidentally, the the web net could also be removed to secure trap all kinds of criminals!
After 1977, a new era of obsession started for us. And we had it bad! I can assume that many of you also entered many years of Star Wars toy mania! Honestly, I could fill pages with pictures of the action figures we collected over the years. Even with finicky care of the tiny guns and accessories, we stayed organized and made the toys last for years until the paint had faded and the labels had peeled off. (and who could forget peeling and sticking all those blasted labels!)
"Aren't you a little bit short for a stormtrooper?" Not very durable but hours and hours of raids and adventures took place on the Death Star. The elevator and the trash compactor made reliving the adventure that much more awesome. And for us, it was just as fun to use the pieces in individual play! The blast cannon could easily be moved "off-site" to further protect The Empire. Our play was not limited to action figures alone. Did anyone else have this little gem?
This turned into fun for our entire family! Even our older brothers who had to be 19 or 20 years old at the time would get in on the action and try to beat the high score. This shooter holds a tough little memory for me as well. I accidentally found it hidden before Christmas morning. I was riddled with guilt but kept the secret out of fear of losing this awesome present.
And I can't forget the birth of the gamer! This was a brilliant game that was a perfect introduction to adventure gaming with a tech twist (literally! I can still hear the sound of the song and horn blasts as your warriors went into battle! Even today, I am sad that the machine finally broke down and we had to let it go.
So as I head out this year to pick up gifts for my family and friends, some of those presents aren't that different from those of my youth. The technology may have improved and the action figures may have gotten smaller but the imagination and adventure is the same. What's on your geek's list this year?