Monday, March 19th, 2012
Though the Eighties made it okay for boys to play with dolls, the same decade also provided these same young men, who are now today’s dads, with the perfect models of manliness: action figures.
After all, males are designed to be creatures of action. Virtually from infancy, we leave playing house and having tea parties to the girls. Boys are the explorers, the daredevils, and the protectors.
Why does a diaper ad that may or not insinuate that dads are 2nd rate parents get so many men upset? Since 33% of stay-at-home parents are now men, it mens that we can’t be the sole bread winners that dads evidently were back in the 1950′s.
So if our job is to work by raising our kids more actively than prior generations, then don’t diss our ability to work and to take action. I’ll say it until it’s a cliche, but today’s dads don’t babysit; they simply are being active dads.
(Maybe packs of diapers should come with a free “active dad” action figure?)
Reading too much into it, as I love to do, I have realized that each action figure on my Top 5 list represents an important aspect of fatherhood. It’s as if these toys subconsciously taught us what we would eventually need to teach and lead our children:
Masculinity, self-respect and self-defense, the initiative to implement change as necessary, adventure, and spiritual leadership.
After much discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and in real life, I have gathered my version of the Top 5 Most Butt-Kicking Action Figures of the 1980′s:
1. He-Man (1982). It can’t get much manlier when your name is “He-Man” and you ride a green tiger. Granted, he looked a lot like a pro-wrestler, with the velvet underwear and whatnot. Either way, dads are the ultimate examples of masculinity for their children. We are He-Men for our kids.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988.) Martial arts were a pretty big deal back in the Eighties. From The Karate Kid to Bloodsport, it was ingrained into our brains that we must able to defend ourselves against ninjas. Or in this case, to be ninjas ourselves. Dads must teach their kids self-respect and self-defense. We are Master Splinters for our kids.
3. Transformers (1984.) Everything had to transform in the Eighties. Like Mogwai transformed into Gremlins, so did robots transform into vehicles. I’ve said it plenty before, but today’s dad is constantly having to transform the traditional father’s role from what used to left more to the mom. In theory, we must become more feminine to be masculine. Dads must lead by example and know when to implement change. We are Optimus Primes for our kids.
4. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1982.) It’s funny how I never really remember any of the characters actually getting shot. A bloodshed-free military? Sounds pretty nice, actually. Dads motivate and inspire their children to be adventurous and to be all they can be. We are G.I. Joes for our kids.
5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983.) This classic sci-fi series came to a chronological end in the Eighties, reinforcing the existence of good and evil and the need to choose the right side. But it takes “the Force” to get the job done. Dads are the spiritual leaders for their family. We are the Jedi for our kids.
Now you know my list of the Top 5 Most Butt-Kicking Action Figures of the 1980′s. And knowing is half the battle.
P.S. For a great place to find and buy items such as these mentioned here, check out The Collectionary, a growing go-to place to search for classic action figures!
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