LAND SPEED RACER & PILOT
I’ve lived in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada since I was in grade 3. I was actually born on the west coast in British Columbia but my family moved from there when I was still really young and I have no memory of the place. The early years of my youth, Kindergarten thru Grade 2, were spent in Ontario. My dad was in the military which is why we moved around a lot. In Ontario we actually lived on a base but I didn’t really have a concept of that at the time, it just seemed like any old suburban neighborhood to me.
I lived on a street called Sangro Loop. In the center of that loop was a playground with a swing set, monkey bars, and a sand pit. Some of you may recall that quite some time ago I reviewed a solid plastic alien figure whom I named Turtle Man. In that review I told you about a “game” my brother Doug and I used to play in the sandpit. We liked to bury our toys in the sand, close our eyes and spin until we were dizzy, and then try to remember where we buried our toys. I don’t know why we thought this was fun. Doug is two years older than me and I tended to follow his lead so I’d say that the burying/spinning game was probably his dumb idea.
On two occasions I buried my toy so well that I wasn’t able to find it again. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson after one failed toy retreival but no, I kept on burying things. I can’t recall which one I lost first and how far apart these incidents were as my memories from way back then are quite hazy. Turtle Man was one of the two toys that I buried and never saw again. I told my dad that I lost my toy in the sand so he went to the playground and dug up the entire sandpit with a shovel thinking I had lost the toy earlier that day. He wasn’t impressed, standing in the hole he had dug all sweaty and dirty, when I told him I had buried it the previous summer.
The other toy I buried and never saw again was this yellow landspeeder and its pilot. As kids Doug and I had a bunch of figures from Fisher Price’s Adventure People line. We had deep sea divers, shark wranglers, space aliens, motorcycle drivers, and rescue chopper pilots to name a few. The figures were to scale with G.I. Joes and other 3 ¾” figures and they often filled the civilian roles when we were playing Joes. The articulation was on par with the Star Wars figures, hips, shoulders and head but the Adventure People had one up on Star Wars figures in that their heads were ball jointed.
When we got a bit older we got rid of nearly all of our Adventure People figures. I’m not sure if it’s because they seemed childish since they were made by Fisher Price or maybe just because they weren’t all that exciting when compared to Transformers and Masters of the Universe. The only Adventure People we held onto were our Rescue Helicopter pilots, Mark and Tom.
Losing that land speeder in the sand has always bothered me. Even after I got rid of all of my other Adventure People toys it never sat well with me how it managed to disappear the way it did. Had I really buried it that well or was I just really lazy when it came time to find it again? It seems so unlike me to walk away from that sandpit with one of my beloved toys still buried within.
At least with Turtle Man I acquired a miniaturized substitute but for 30 years my yellow spaceship and its pilot were lost to the sands of time and Sangro Loop.
For Christmas this year Doug got me the Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul and Greedo. I knew what he was getting me in advance but despite the lack of surprise they still made for a great present and I would have been satisfied with them alone. But after I opened them up Doug handed me another box, a big heavy one.
I opened it up and found myself staring into a box of sand complete with a little plastic shovel. “You gotta dig for it.” Doug said. At that point I knew. I dug to the bottom where in a plastic Ziploc bag I found my long lost yellow land speeder complete with pilot. He had managed to track one down on ebay.
It’s exactly how I remember it. Sleek , yellow, and weird. I was never sure if it was a spaceship or some kind of dragster. The back engine must be pulled out from the body to extract the pilot who lies in the cockpit. The pilot is dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a black helmet. He always looked more like a race car driver than an astronaut to me so that added to my uncertainty as to what type of vehicle this was supposed to be.
Anyway, this was a damn fine present. One of the best I’ve ever gotten. It may even outdo the Invid Shock Trooper he got me last year simply for the sheer creativity and thoughtfulness of it. So thank you Doug. For a nostalgic toy nerd like me you really couldn’t have done any better. 10 out of 10.