Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gay Charlie Childhood Revelations

I saw that, in order to celebrate 40 years of Action Man, Hasbro has asked various hip art luminaries (the kind of artists who produce over-priced vinyl collectable action figures) to contribute their own customised figures. This had me reminiscing about Charlie, the Action Man who was the central figure in my bizarre childhood fantasy world (only child, lots of imagination etc etc) from the age of five right through my first years in secondary school.

Charlie was such a powerful presence in my childhood imagination that I think he probably deserves a biography all of his own. He started off as a humble soldier, rose through the ranks to general, then became Prime minister of his nation before eventually retiring, with missing limbs, to become a priest.

I’ll always remember when I got Charlie for Christmas in 1974. He was a gift from a friend of my mum’s, Eileen, who had ethical dilemmas over buying a boy a war toy. To put this into context, Eileen and my mum was both radically leftwing and ex-hippies. Therefore giving an Action Man to a child was politicising his play and suckering him into seeing militaristic imperialism as cool. Of course I did think militaristic imperialism was cool – I was a male child with testosterone surging through my body and an imagination already steeped in war comic action.

I liked Charlie because he had dark hair like me (the blond sailor Action Man I also got was rejected as inferior) and was dressed as a World War Two British soldier. His personality developed as my games matured, he was brave, moral and had a war-weariness that would often cause him to curse the eternal conflict in which he was caught. He was never a dime-a-dozen infantryman. He was definitely more of a Special Forces figure (before I knew that term, of course). As my play was influenced by a burgeoning love of sci-fi (especially after I saw Star Wars), Marvel Comics and James bond, Charlie’s role would change but his basic character never did.

Due to frequent injuries involving missing limbs, Charlie often swapped bodies was second string Action Men. However, this never stopped him being him in my eyes. In the end, when I stopped playing with him he was, sadly, missing a foot and an arm. In this crippled state, he had to jack in soldiering and, finally succumbing to his pacifist tendencies, he became a priest. He’s now in a box somewhere wearing the cassock that I made for him.

I really must write more about Charlie. Although I come across as gay, odd and retarded, I feel all misty-eyed with nostalgia now…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ActionMan is reborn...anniversary edions out now. http://www.modellersloft.com