TOYS ARE US : Techno Punch Terminator

Skeletons are cool. Particularly human skeletons. Even more particularly, skulls. Skulls are awesome - partly because they've had their own self-contained iconography for centuries, and they've only become more mainstream as time has pressed on. And it's funny: it's a (literally) disembodied head from which all the flesh and hair has been removed(!), and yet it adorns any number of handbags you can find at Target. And while this all but eliminates any "edge" they used to carry, I'm pleased about the widening availability of skull-related things - because, back in my day, kiddies, you had to keep a sharp eye & quick wit to stumble upon any osteo-merchandise of any kind outside of October. There were remedial playthings like Tyco's "Rattle Me Bones" and Hasbro's "Monster Face" that satiated my needs for immediate bone gratification... but they were no match for the faux-silver, popular culture tie-in toy that was Kenner's Techno Punch Terminator.

Kenner did some weird shit around this time; not unlike the Real Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice toys from previous years (as well as the Aliens line the following year), they took - for lack of a better word - some "liberties" with their designs. I mean, I was as enchanted and enamored with the shiny soupiness of the T-1000 as everyone else, but I don't know what dimestore novelization this "Blaster T-1000" is pulled from.

But it makes sense (in a way that doesn't make any sense at all) that they were always trying to find ways to 'soften' the images culled from these movies about monsters and robots to better appeal to kids. Though I failed to see then (as much as I do now) the merits of compromising these toys if we were already familiar with the original subject matter. Besides, can we make a case (even just for today) that Terminator 2 is perhaps the greatest Kids' Movie of all time? At its core, the story is John Connor hangin' with Arnie, riding dirt bikes, going to the arcade, battling liquid metal, and cursing - all in preparation for almost-certain nuclear holocaust. I mean, fuck Goonies, amiright? 

But this whole argument is pointless, because the fact of the matter is that this "Techno Punch Terminator" is not only a generously faithful representation of the film's actual T-800 machines, but was one of the most screen-accurate action figures produced up to that point (save for Kenner's Max Rebo Band from Return of the Jedi). And for some reason, I got it into my head that I didn't want this 5'' plastic endoskeleton -- I wanted an army of them! It was such an outlandish desire that I can't believe that I would've ever said it out loud. But I must've, because for my 9th birthday, I opened - one after another - four individually-gift-wrapped Terminators: the same action figure, four times in a row.

Up until that point, I'd always toyed with the idea (sorry) of building a fleet of Imperial Stormtroopers or compiling and actual Foot Clan, but it seemed so wasteful and repetitive to use my allotted action figure allowance on the same thing over & over again. But on birthdays, anything goes, and that was the only excuse I needed. One of the added features of these skinless cyborgs was that their eyes would glow red simply by placing them under a light - and so, I discarded all packaging and the cumbersome accessories with which they came and lined them up underneath my bedside table lamp. At that point, as much as I loved the movie, these had no plot function; it didn't matter if they were here to destroy humanity or save me from Robert Patrick - I just liked having a sleek, uniformed skeleton collection. 

- Paul

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