Don’t Touch Daddy’s Toys!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m a toy collector. Action figures in particular. That shouldn’t be too hard to ascertain, given some of the stuff I post. I used to have a lot more shelf space in my office to display them. Be warned, collectors. Once you get a house and a family, shelf space becomes a rare commodity….

I have a vivid memory from a day years before Baby Primary Ignition was born. We had a two friends, a married couple, over with their young son. They knew I was a toy collector. Apparently word had trickled down to their boy, as right when we opened our front door, the little guy made a mad dash for my office. He proceeded to make his way in and out with Ghostbusters (shown above), Power Rangers, superheroes, etc. Our friends looked at me apologetically. But I said something to the effect of: “You can’t have a room full of toys, and then have a kid over and say he can’t play.”

I look back fondly on that moment. That felt like a good one for yours truly.

Now if only I could be as understanding today with Baby Primary Ignition. She’s almost two, and as one might surmise, she’s gotten very grabby…

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Getting Your Kid a Spoon

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Ahhhh Calvin & Hobbes. So timeless. So perfect.

Baby Primary Ignition has this electronic toy shaped like a little soccer ball. It rolls around, plays music, annoys her parents, etc. This morning I noticed her playing with it, but no sound was coming out. I figured the batteries were dead. So I did what I imagine most dads would do. I got a screwdriver out of my little tool kit in the closet, opened up the ball, swapped out the batteries, and low and behold the ball was back in business!

In one of my favorite episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld recounts something Matthew Broderick told him about, of all things, getting his kid a spoon…

“Matthew has this great line about when you get your kid a spoon. You think, ‘What a great dad I am. Look at me getting my kid a spoon.’ That is what we think.”

He’s talking about a certain kind of narcissism that comes with parenting. But there’s a sweetness to it too, I think.

When they’re older, we won’t be able to solve life’s big problems for them. But for now, the small ones will suffice. Because those small problems feel big to them. So they feel big to us too.

Oh, my Baby. Feel free to take all the time in the world growing up.

(In truth, part of me now regrets fixing the ball. The damn thing is currently rolling around our wood floors making more noise than ever.)

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An Androgynous Potato (Head)

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Somebody in my Facebook feed this morning referred to people getting freaked out over “an androgynous potato,” and I knew something was up.

Turns out Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are rebranding. Hasbro is going to less prominently display the gender labels for the toy line. The brand will now simply be “Potato Head.” (See packaging below.)

This triggered some folks online, because that’s what the internet is and has always been for: Triggering people. How dare we cut Mr. Potato Head’s imaginary balls off! (What would you call Mr. Potato Head’s balls anyway? Spuds? Spudlings?)

My initial inclination was to say this is one of those things that’s been given way too much thought. Just how much will the world be improved by de-emphasizing the gender roles of toy potatoes? Is Hasbro fixing something that isn’t broken?

Then I read the AP story, in which Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider says…

“It’s a potato. But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. It makes sense.

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of representation in popular culture. It’s not just toys that kids project themselves on to. It’s all kinds of mass media and merchandise. Everyone deserves to feel seen, regardless of sexuality, race, or however you want to measure difference.

I find it usually helps to look at these things through the lens of fatherhood. Baby Primary Ignition has a pretty conventional family thus far. It’s mom/dad/baby. But I’d like to think that if it were mom/mom/baby, or dad/dad/baby, or if there were a gender-neutral “they” mixed in there somewhere, she’d still be able to look out into the world and not feel like she doesn’t belong. I’d want her to know her family is beautiful the way it is.

And if genderless plastic potatoes can move us further in that direction, I’m game.

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Baby’s Pal Superman

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Baby Primary Ignition has a favorite action figure. That should come as no surprise to those who know me personally, as I’ve got an office filled with them. So there’s a thrill that comes with her being attached to one.

Even more thrilling? It’s a Superman action figure. (For the geeks out there, it’s based on the Bruce Timm design from Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited.)

There’s a certain warmth and comfort that comes with associating my daughter with Superman. I’ve heard it said that every girl wants to date Batman, but marry Superman. That’s a pretty poignant observation, even from the male perspective. Every guy would love to be cool like Batman. But I think most grown men want to be Superman for their spouse and children.

I think that’s where that warm feeling comes in. Because right now I can be Superman for her. I can fix owies. I can read to her when she crawls to me with a book in her hand. I can even pick her up in my arms and make her fly.

So maybe it’s not about the thrill of her liking a Superman toy, so much as it’s about the feeling the toy drums up in me…

Incidentally, I don’t plan to be Superman once she starts dating. I fully intend to turn into the Hulk.

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Intro to Tarzan

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

At one and a half years old, Baby Primary Ignition doesn’t see a great deal of TV. But she has been exposed very selectively. We have a Disney+ subscription at the PI household. She loves the Frozen movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and as we very recently found out, Tarzan.

Released in 1999, Tarzan came down the pipe a little late for Mrs. Primary Ignition and I. But she recently turned it on for Baby, and was amazed at how responsive she was to the opening sequence. So much that she showed it to us this morning.

The sequence that’s pretty dramatic even by Disney standards. Baby Tarzan loses his parents to a leopard attack, and we see blood next to their shrouded corpses. This is after said leopard kills a baby gorilla. So of course, the gorilla’s mom adopts baby Tarzan, and we’ve got ourselves a movie.

As she gets old, Baby has started to point to things and say, “What’s that?” (In her own special toddler language, of course.) She was quite responsive during the movie’s opening, as Tarzan and his parents escape a fiery blaze. She also responded to the gorillas. Animals of all sorts are big with her. She’s started to point to different ones and say “Cow,” “Sheep,” etc. She also calls fish “elmo,” which we think is supposed to be Nemo.

But what really surprised us was her reaction to the bloodthirsty leopard. When the tiger leapt out and attacked, she actually called out “No!” She wasn’t afraid for herself, but the characters on screen.

It’s both scary and exciting to think that she’s becoming more aware and responsive to the world around her. That can only mean being a parent is about to become harder, and we’ve got to make more small decisions about what content is and isn’t appropriate for her. My days of watching John Oliver while she plays nearby may nearly be over.

Then again, we just showed her a movie where a ferocious leopard kills two humans and a baby gorilla. So maybe the child psyche is more durable than we give it credit for.

Incidentally, that Phil Collins soundtrack? Highly underrated.

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Funko Pops as…Toys?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Siebert house isn’t huge on Funko Pops. But we have some. Most notably, we’ve got Batgirl and Nightwing in our family room (shown left). We’ve also got Charlie Brown, and a few others down in our basement TV room.

Baby Primary Ignition, who’s about one and a half, keeps grabbing Batgirl and Nightwing off the end tables. Then yesterday she discovered Charlie Brown in the basement. She’ll carry the little wide-eyed figures around with her. She’ll bang them together. Charlie even joined us for a diaper change this morning.

So many collectors gather Funko Pops for display, customization, etc. It’s actually kind of a wonder to see these little toys used as…you know, toys. They might get a little beat up in the process. But somehow I’m okay with that…

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Daddy’s C-3PO Impression Wins the Day

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I do impressions around the house a lot. What can I say? I’m a voice actor and a performer. It’s just what I do. When I became a father, I inevitably started doing goofy voices for Baby Primary Ignition. But now that she’s a little older (about a year and a half), I’m starting to get something I never got before: Feedback.

So today out of the blue, she hands me a little plush C-3PO (shown above), and looks at me expectantly. I bust out my Threepio impression, which is in essence a flummoxed British dude: “Oh! Miss [First Name]! Oh! Oh My!”

Moments later, Threepio reported: “Oh my! You seem to have soiled your pants.”

I always told myself I’d never push the things I love on to my kids. If they happen to enjoy Star Wars, that’s great. If they like something else, that’s great too.

But I won’t lie: Seeing her response positively to Threepio made my day. Maybe, just maybe, we have a future Jedi on our hands…

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