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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Salem MacGourley and the Quest for the Holy Grails

After the last month of political commentary, I really, really feel the need to take a break and speak on a lighter subject. Many of you know that one of my hobbies is playing video games, but another hobby, one that I'm absolutely unashamed of, is collecting toys. It's a specific aspect of that topic that I'd like to speak on today: the aspect of toy collecting that is the "Grail."

In pop culture, the grail is most commonly known as the cup that Jesus drank from, as seen in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, sought after not only for its rarity, but also for the healing power and immortality it would bring. In the world of toy collecting, finding a rare item may not bring you immortality, but it definitely brings a sense of satisfaction and closure.

I don't currently have any unobtained grails, thanks to a recent spate of good fortune in hunting them down, but I'd like to show you the pieces which I've obtained that hold a great deal of sentimental value to me.

Transformers Alternators: Ravage
In Transformers history, Ravage was originally a robotic leopard that turned into a cassette and was an accessory to Soundwave, who turned into an 80s style boombox. The Alternators line licensed the appearance of real-world vehicles and adapted existing Transformers characters to fit them: Optimus Prime as a Dodge Ram SRT, Jazz as a Mazda RX-8, and Smokescreen as a Suburu Impreza WRX were among the most popular, but Ravage was one that I always wanted just because of how clever it was. Ravage came in two forms; one of them was "Battle Ravage," basically a repaint/remold of Tracks's Corvette C5 with a cat's head, but the other one... well, it was a Jaguar that turned into a jaguar. I somehow managed to find one for retail price at a comic shop downtown in Albuquerque.










Arkham City Deluxe Mister Freeze
The Batman: Arkham games are some of the finest games, super-hero or otherwise, that I've played. The normally-dismal Mattel started making the figures based on the series, but production was picked up by DC's own DC Collectibles production house instead, with superior sculpting, articulation, and paint-work just in time for Mister Freeze to come out. He towers a full head's height over the Batman figures in the line, and is a fitting representation for one of the most creative boss fights in gaming, where (depending on the difficulty setting) you may have to attack him in up to 10 different ways. This piece normally goes for over $120 on eBay due to its rarity, but another shop had him for a mere $60. 

Play Arts Kai Arkham Knight Batgirl
My most recent grail is one that's only been released for about a month now, and has not left my desk aside from her photoshoot here. I've spoken at length about my admiration for the character of Barbara Gordon before, and her appearance in the Arkham game has been pleasing as a fan, especially given how disappointing the comics have been for her recently. Play Arts Kai is a premium figure line produced by Square Enix (the same Square Enix responsible for the Final Fantasy games series), and they are known for their detail and articulation at a rather large scale, with figures ranging between 9 and 12 inches tall. I have to admit that this piece was not a grail for its rarity -- given that it's brand new and acquiring one would be as simple as ordering one -- but for its importance to me as possibly the finest representation (in plastic) of Batgirl that I've ever seen. 
 

Collecting can be an expensive hobby, considering the price tags on some of these things and how full my shelves are. I've currently got a Marvel Legends version of Scarlet Witch from the Civil War movie on its way to me, and in the next year or so the Arkham line is going to have a two-pack featuring their version of Batgirl as well as Barbara Gordon with her wheelchair. Then there's the NBC/Arrowverse Constantine, and the Legends of Tomorrow squad is getting figures, too.

And then there's the ones I'll never be able to justify or afford, such as the Titans Return Fortress Maximus (I'm accepting donations, I say, tongue firmly planted in cheek), or any Hot Toys figure of an MCU character.

I love my plastic. I can pick up a figure and relive a story I experienced in a moment with them. 

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