I love toys. I love ripping open the package (and sometimes slicing my hand open on the sharp plastic edges because I am too eager), undoing the twist-ties that hold the figure in place, and finally breaking it free like a new butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. Anyone who has been to my apartment can attest to that declaration of love. My boyfriend recently surprised me with a new Harley Quinn figure and when I opened it, we both realized we were about to embark on a long and painful journey together.
A few years back (2005, to be exact), Marvel introduced a series of figures called ‘Marvel Legends’. These weren’t ordinary action figures though; these were special. Each figure in the Marvel Legends series comes with a piece of an additional figure that is not available on its own. You assemble the figure yourself, thus making it a ‘Build A Figure,’ or ‘BAF’ in dork-speak. Figures such as Fin Fang Foom, Sentinel, Giant-Man, and others can only be found in this particular series. The cool thing about these figures, is that once assembled, they are to scale with the rest of the collection: Fin Fang Foom completely towers over the Fantastic Four, which is as it should be. He’s huge. DC Comics soon followed suit with their own version of BAF’s and offer classic figures such as Giganta and Kilowog in their various action figure collections.
When the first series of BAF’s was first introduced, many collectors were outraged because in order to get all the pieces needed to assemble the extra (super-cool) figure, one would need to purchase every figure. With each series fluctuating between six and ten figures, that meant spending extra cash collecting figures simply for the extra piece. Even though collectors like me would get stuck with figures of characters they normally wouldn’t buy, most felt the extra piece was worth it. I know I enjoy the trade-off; my new Harley figure came with the head and torso of Gorilla Grodd. I knew as soon as I opened the package and saw the extra pieces we would have to get the rest of the big guy. Grodd is not only one of my boyfriend’s favourite comic-book characters, but he’s also a giant monkey action figure.
Due to the overwhelming perseverance of my boyfriend (which startled me because he is more of a comic-book-guy than an action-figure-guy) we found all the pieces of Grodd for a fairly reasonable amount of money considering how big and heavy he is. After assembling Grodd, my boyfriend set him up on one of our shelves with three Flash figures. He spent about fifteen minutes staging a whole scene while I sat and watched. After he finished positioning each Flash figure just so, he turned to me and asked me the question I had been waiting for since the whole thing started: ‘Now what do you want to build?’ I love him.