This week’s blog has been pulled from the archives of my personal blog, from way back in April, 2009, at dimland.com. Actually, this is the second pulling, because it was reused on the Two Different Girls blog (with an update) in April, 2013. So, now I’m re-reusing it in April, 2018 (with a slight amount of re-writing). I’ll see if I can avoid re-re-reusing it in April, 2024. No promises, though!
I collect old toys. Well, I should say I used to collect old toys. I no longer have the disposable income I once did. To tell the truth, I never really had that much disposable income and yet I would still collect old toys.
Not just any old toys. I collected the toys that I or a friend or relative had when I was a child. I used to say that I was buying back my childhood. One toy at a time.
There was one toy, however, foolishly given up in my youth, that had eluded my ability to buy back for many years. (Did I ever buy it back? Read on.) It’s an action figure that was put out by Matchbox Toys in the mid 1970s. It was part of their Fighting Furies pirate series and he was called the Ghost of Captain Kidd. He was sold only at Sears.
When I originally wrote this piece I had thought the year was 1973, but, with the assistance of the excellent website – WishBookWeb.com, I have found it was actually 1975. I was ten years old and I was looking through the Sears Wish Book catalog, something every kid must have done in those days, when I spotted him. There he was, the Ghost of Captain Kidd. He was pictured with two other pirate figures, but I didn’t care about them. I wanted the ghost.
I saved up my allowance money and, when I had enough, my mom ordered it for me. I don’t remember how long I waited, but I’m sure it felt like weeks and weeks.
When the fairly plain and unassuming package arrived, I was beside myself with excitement. It was worth the wait, because it was such a great toy. The Captain had a button on his side that you could push to move his right arm and simulate sword fighting. And though he was quite a bit smaller than my Johnny West and GI Joe, he had a feature that they didn’t: The Captain could glow in the dark!
To this day, kids dig just about anything if it glows in the dark. But the Captain didn’t just glow, Matchbox also had the brilliant idea of painting, in pale white, a skull and skeleton on the figure. So, when he glowed you could see his ghostly skeletal structure. It was a very cool and eerie effect.
The Captain quickly became one of my favorite toys. I would frequently bring him over to my friend Todd’s house, along with my other action figures, and Todd and I would play with his GI Joe playset and his actions figures for hours.
And, now, that criminal act alluded to in the headline.
At the end of one of our adventures, I left the Captain at Todd’s house, so he could play with him some more. Todd was very good to his toys, so I wasn’t too worried about him having one of mine for a while longer. The only problem was his family then went on vacation before I could get him back. My Captain was trapped in Todd’s house! They would be gone for at least a week and I’d be damned if I would be without such a favored toy for so long.
I hatched a plan.
Todd’s house had an attached garage which led to their basement. I knew that his family never locked the overhead garage door (those were the days). My plan was simple: I would head over to his house, open the garage door just enough for me to crawl under, go in, and get my toy.
I’m certain the statute of limitations has long since passed, so I can tell you now – my plan worked like a charm. I retrieved my toy and no one was the wiser. I don’t think Todd ever knew I’d broken into his house.
And I was single-minded. There was no taking of any of his toys or comic books. No stealing money, no going through his older sister’s underwear drawer. (Come on! I was only ten!) I was there for the Captain. And he was all I took. I swear.
In time, as with so many of the other toys of my youth, the Ghost of Captain Kidd went away. No doubt sold at a garage sale. I grew to regret giving him up.
For years I was unable to get him back. I had seen him on eBay a couple of times and once came close to getting him, but, at the last moment, someone outbid me and swiped him away. Which is probably a good thing as money was (and still is) needed for more mundane things. You know, food, clothing, mortgage. Nothing so exciting as the Ghost of Captain Kidd.
I even went as far as to call Mattel, the toy company that now produces the Matchbox toy line, to ask if they’d consider reissuing the Fighting Furies, especially the Captain. Toy companies have been known to reissue toys from time to time. As far as I know, my call didn’t accomplish anything.
Then in 2013, with some of the tax refund left unspent, I was chatting with a Facebook friend of mine. We got talking about old toys and the Captain came up in the conversation. Naturally, she was curious if I had tried to find the Captain recently. I hadn’t, so I took a look on eBay.
There he was! And only $75.00 at the buy it now option! I had previously seen him priced at $200 to $300. I had to buy it! I went through the necessary steps, but before pulling the trigger, I had to take the most important necessary step: I had to ask my wife if I could buy it.
“Honey? Do you remember me telling you about the Ghost of Captain Kidd toy I had when I was a boy. And that I have been wanting to get it back for a long time?”
“You mean the doll that glows in the dark?”
“Action figure! And, yes, that’s the one. It’s on eBay and I can buy it now for a mere $75.00 plus shipping. Can I buy it? Can I? Please! Please! Please!”
“Of course, darling.”
So, I bought him. When he arrived he was smaller than I remembered, but still oh so cool. That’s one more piece of my childhood back in the fold.
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