PETER BUCK (2014)
Continued from Part 1.
Simpsons action figures have been around a long time now. The show has been on for 26 years which gave Playmates ample time to release figures of practically every denizen of Springfield while they held the toy license. Now that Neca has the license to produce Simpsons toys they’re going a different route. They’re specifically making figures of the many celebrities who have visited Springfield over the years. It’s an eclectic mix of people who’ve lent their voices and likenesses to the show. I was somewhat tempted to buy both the Tony Hawk and Bret Hart figures when I saw them but I resisted. I enjoy the Simpsons but I’ve never been a die-hard fan and I really didn’t want to open another collecting can of worms. However, I was tempted again when I saw Neca released all three members of R.E.M. in Simpsons format. There was front man Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Michael Mills (in case you’re wondering, R.E.M. never permanently replaced the founding drummer Bill Berry after he left the band in 1997).
R.E.M.’s a fairly popular band who have been around for a long time but I don’t know anyone who claims to be a hardcore R.E.M. fan. For that reason they seem like an odd selection for Neca to include in their Simpsons’ line. Just off the top of my head I would think that Green Day might’ve been a better choice. That trio has a younger following thats more likely to collect toys and the guys in the band are more colorful to look at. On the other hand, magicians Penn and Teller were included in the same wave and imagine R.E.M. at least have a larger fan base than those guys.
I really considered buying the Michael Stipe figure when I saw it at my local comic shop, Strange Adventures. It just seemed so random that a Michael Stipe figure would even exist. The fact that it was a Simpsonized version of him made it more desirable because having a lifelike version of him standing on my desk amongst a sea of cartoony super heroes would’ve just seemed weird. I assumed the figure would sit gathering dust on Strange Adventure’s shelf for years so I felt no need to pounce on it. To my surprise it sold within a couple of weeks. When I realized I missed my chance at owning it I thought “meh”.
But the figure lingered in the back of my mind.
When I was placing an order on BigBadToyStore recently I decided to check and see if they had Michael Stipe available so I could add him to the haul. They didn’t. So I thought I’d check ebay. I found a couple on there but people were asking $50 for the thing. Wha? Now I was cursing myself for not buying it at Strange when I had the chance. Who’d have thought a Michael Stipe action figure would be so damn collectible. There was no way I was paying that much for it so I forgot it and moved on.
This past Thursday my sister Katie scored box-seat tickets to see our local hockey team, the Halifax Mooseheads. She invited me along to catch the game at 7:00pm. The stadium is just up the street from my office downtown so I saw no sense in taking the hour-long bus ride all the way home after work only to turn right around and take it back. To kill the 2 hours of downtime I went up to a comic shop I don’t get to visit that often, Monster’s Comic Lounge. They have a ton of cool stuff but I was most excited to find they had the entire wave of celebrity Simpsons figures priced at $20 a piece. I wasn’t about to let Stipe slip through my fingers again so I snatched him up.
As I continued to browse around the store I kept re-examining the toy in my hand. I began to have second thoughts. I don’t actually think it looks all that much like Michael Stipe. He’s skinny and bald and he has a microphone but those traits alone don’t make him easily identifiable. Couldn’t they have at least given him the star T-shirt? I realized that as soon as I took him out of the package which identified him by name he would become completely anonymous. I was planning to put him on my desk at work and I just knew that everyone who stopped by and saw him would say “who the hell is that?”
I realized my options were to either leave him behind or to buy the whole band. I figured having a dude with a guitar on either side of him would make it clear who he was. I stated my case to the shop owner Mike and asked if he could cut me a deal on the three of them. Mike doubted anyone would recognize these figures regardless but he hooked me up anyway and knocked $15 off the price.
Continue to Part 3