The trouble with this toy is not its fragility; nor in its impracticality, even given the fact that it will be played with little boy hands that squeeze too hard, and get things, naturally, dirty. The problem with this toy is what it steals from me in quality time. What it gives us in tears and frustration far outweighs the joy this toy is supposed to bring.
My time with my son is finite. Minutes shared in quality time can somehow, I hope, outlast the ticking of the clock, the speedy flipping of the months in the calendar and the swiftly flowing years.
This book, Batman Collected, built upon Chip Kid’s passion for all things Batman, parallels my own boy’s passion for the caped crusader. With over 100 pages of full-color photos dedicated to the days in 1960 when prime time television showed us Adam West and Bruce Ward fighting off the Penguin and the Joker. There was also a flurry of toy manufacturing going on at the time.
Not just toys; there was Batman Milk, Batman Peanut Butter and Jelly, Batman Candy Cigarettes, and Batman Enriched White Bread. Packaging is all gloriously preserved and displayed in the pages of this book.
This book offers the promise of quality time; time we can spend sitting on the sofa together flipping through pages of a book that he absolutely adores.
This book is already out of print, as I first picked it up around 10 years ago for his older brother, when the Batman Fetish reigned in his heart too; and he dressed as Batman every single day. Then, those hours weren’t spent in the amount of frustration my younger son feels today. If there’s any doubt that God loves diversity, you need to raise only two children to know that he does.
There are pages and pages of vintage Batman toy photos. The Batman Flashlight that illuminates the Batman symbol we see at the beginning of each Batman Episode. Batman and Robin paper dolls, the Executive Desk Set, complete with calendar, pencil sharpener and ink blotter. The stainless steel Batman and Robin spoon and fork, “Holy Chowtime Batman They’re Stainless Too!” There are Batman metal safes, dice, jacks and vintage lunch boxes.
You can see exactly where this is headed. To most of us, we’re delighted to see such a comprehensive collection of vintage toys, preserved and catalogued for our bewilderment on the black museum-like pages. Nevertheless, we are not children; children do not understand the time-space continuum, the importance of manufacturing toys that follow mass production batches, and licenses that prevent the making of toys that do not conform to the Rated-R Dark Knight films of today.
Soon, he starts asking for the doll, the key ring, the thermos and of course, the safe. I want the safe too. It’s very cool and the stainless steel spoon and fork. Our quality time is now frustration time, “Why can’t you get me this stuff?”
Chip must have predicted this reaction; because in the back of the book is a cutout 3-d model plan to make your very own Batman Paper Doll. Is this his attempt to save the day? Probably not, as this toy comes with its own catch, stated in very fine print directly on the toy’s instructions: “Non-Posable Model.”
However, we are optimistic parents. We actually went to Staples and had 10 extra copies of the instructions printed on cardstock, so that we could make each boy their own non-posable Batman, with some to spare for mistakes in cutting or gluing. We ignored our instincts on this one, the impulse to run and flee.
The cutting is tedious: this one was rejected because it was not cut directly on the line.
The folds are even more of a nightmare. Once completed, the legs do not stay attached, regardless of whether you are using Super Glue, Gorilla Glue or Elmers. One model takes hours to build, spread out over two or three days of work, with built-in glue-drying times.
The sensible, well-thought out goal of sharing some of our finite time together in a quality way backfired. Especially for Dad, who spent most of the time gluing and folding. Each work session started out in high optimism, relief that “finally you’re gong to make this for me,” and quickly turned sour as the delicate model could barely withstand the gripping required to apply the glue. Wisely, I collected all of the cardboard design sheets, and packed them away in their respective memory boxes; someday we’ll laugh about this.
Of course, that didn’t last long. The Batman design sheets were discovered, and soon, he bravely walked toward me, design sheet and scissors in hand, and asked, “Can You Make This for Me?” No honey, I love you way too much to spend time with you in this way.
We’ll make cookies together instead.
“Can they be Batman Cookies?”
And Batman can watch.