Heliocentric Bullshit no.95

Heliocentric Bullshit is the title of a weekly newsletter that i used to post for a while and decided to continue. It’s located at tinyletter but i’ll post it here also for the time being.


So this volume’s title is kind of a riff on last week’s one but without the religious angle.
And for people who are wondering where that .gif is from, it’s the final mecha from Ressha Sentai ToQger; a super sentai show that is built on the theme of imagination.

Sooooo, why imagination? Well, i’ve stumbled upon scans of old Argos catalogues. Argos is a department store chain from Britain and after my Grandma’s sister moved to the isle, she started sending the seasonal catalogues over so we kids can get jealous of all the stuff the brits got and we only had the option to drool over. It was especially disappointing when we discovered the „vintage“ catalogues with Star Wars figures right around the time my brother and i discovered it for ourselves, with no option of getting those figures other than flee markets. Nah, i’m exaggerating, we were pissed about the Star Wars figures, but it did something else for my brother, my cousin and me: it motivated us to craft our own toys.
Well, building toys is also exaggerated. It’s not like we made our own resin or vinyl toys (which would have been so neat given that our Grandpa would have had a blast doing that with us) but paper.
Let’s give you an example, we just started getting into wrestling but there where no according toys around in austria in the 80s, and somehow we never realized that He-Man and his ‚roiders were already the ultimate wrestling figures, and when part of our family came together for the annual spring vacation the three boys took the printing paper that my Uncle always let disappear from his office and built a whole stage and part of the venue as well as a few wrestlers out of paper and cardboard. The figures where only small, flat cutouts; later version would have „joints“ and small slings you could put your fingers in for animating the figures. I looked through photo albums to try and give you more than just my telling of the memories, seems like nobody took some. And we managed to take the enthusiasm from that day and use it on countless other occasions when we’d really like to play with something, but did not have the means to get it. The toys for the Robin Hood movie, Thundercast, the holes from our Masters Of The Universe and Ghostbusters collection.

Why am i mentioning this? A few weeks ago a co-worker took his kids along to work because he had nobody to look after them. It was a slow day for us, and on of the two asked me to built a desklamp for his Dad with him. And i completely get that not everyone is a natural tinkerer or builder, but i realized that it is unusual for most kids these days to have a supply of paper, cardboard, a few coloured pencils and glue to kill a few afternoons and an older sibling/parent/relative to sit down with them and build something out of it. In our family it was our Grandfather and Dad who helped us to get our ideas out of our heads. After „let’s build a lamp“ the kids input well was empty, but as i said, it was a slow day and it was nice to assemble something that looks like a small predator with a lightbulb on top that would have been a neat device to give people a boost if i had not grounded it. Perhaps it was because of the environment and dreaming to big and the intimidation that comes with being surrounded by all the tools and materials that would allow to build a lamp in more than five ways.

This should not be seen as a „everything was better in the olden days“ rant, but rather an explanation why we are in a time where works of popular creativity seem to mostly consist of repurposed ideas rather than new stuff. Even if the first Lego movie was about the potential those blocks offer for us, most kids i know build the things according to the manual. We did that too, but afterwards everything got repurposed, modified or incorporated. Perhaps i’m just hanging around the wrong kids, i’m sure there are enough minors out there who are putting on a race for the creative heads at Lego with their homebrew kits, but i guess most of their parents are the kind of people i’d flee into a burning bulding from.

Thanks For Your Time!