One Year Later

On May 30, 2020, I posted my first blog entry, working from my laptop in the spare room of my in-laws’ house. My wife and I were up-island visiting her family, one of the few times we left Victoria last year, apart from camping trips. The pandemic never hit Vancouver Island with the ferocity it hit the rest of the world, and we were lucky in that. But we were also cut off from much of our support network and were both working from home, full-time, alternating coverage of two rambunctious three-year olds.

The origins of this blog go back further than that, of course.

My creative medium has always been writing fiction informed by my own experiences, and I have often tried to work GI Joe into that writing. Usually, that would mean a GI Joe reference or quote for one of my characters, something that only hinted at why the brand was so important to me, how the simple pleasure of toy collecting provides some missing joy during tough times.

Collecting found me for good at the end of 2013, when I didn’t have the energy to write much, and it stayed with me as my main personal interest from that point forward.

In 2017, after the birth of our twins, I spent a lot of time sitting around, holding either one of two babies who refused to be put down. Or I’d be up with my wife in the middle of the night, providing assistance as she nursed the boys. It was then, in my sleep-deprived state, that I discovered the Joe blogs I became so fond of.

At one point, I had so much time sitting around holding sleeping babies, that I attempted to read Forgotten Figures from the first entry forward. And, as my kids became less dependent and more mobile, I defaulted to reading about my favourite figures only when I got a few minutes to myself. I worked remotely in marketing, and when I switched to an office-based job in 2019, I would read Mike’s most recent posts on the bus ride to my office.

Even before then, I had been thinking about starting a toy blog. I had pre-written posts on my favourite GI Joe, Airborne, twice. And this despite not knowing what was already out there in the blogosphere. I just thought that I could add a different set of eyes, a different perspective, a Canadian bend on GI Joe nostalgia. But in my first attempts, I never quite got my voice right. At times review and at times simple puffery, I didn’t ever feel like myself.

Something changed early in 2020, just as the pandemic hit. I was inspired to write a novel set in the Northwest Territories in the 1980s, a coming of age story set between two Christmases, and about a boy’s experiences that changed his perspective during that time. Working on that project was a springboard of resonant energy I leveraged into creating a catalog of blog posts that would carry me for six months.

Those early posts didn’t have the same polish that more recent posts do, but they resembled what I was hoping to do, at least enough that I kept going.

At one point, I thought of this blog as a love letter to my childhood, to the town I lived in, to the era I grew up in, to my family, and to the friends I spent that remarkable time with. It doesn’t always feel that way, I’m sure, but that has always been at the heart of what I want to do here.

Me and my Joes, circa 1985.

As an adult, collecting toys and blogging can be solitary endeavours. And yet, I’ve felt support from some of the people that inspire me, including the godfather of Joe blogs, Mike from Forgotten Figures, my fellow Canadian Attica Gazette, Dragon Fortress, General Liederkranz, Sintechness, GI Joburg, and others. Thanks, brothers.

Thanks to the toy collecting friends I’ve made, people like Canadian GI Joe Collector, and to everyone that reads and enjoys these blogs.

And, of course, thanks to my wife, Felice, who gets up early with the kids on Saturday mornings so I can stay up late Friday night, posting blog entries.

One year down, and 55 posts in the book. Only a thousand more I want to write.

So say goodbye to your pet wolves, get in the chopper, and buckle up.

5 replies on “One Year Later”

Congrats on a big milestone. It’s funny as I got back into it in 2012 after I spent time reading Joe A Day after the birth of my triplets!

I find that being able to write things down is therapeutic. There’s things I’ve forgotten about that I can recall when re-reading something from 20 years ago. It’s a nice way to keep a recording of events and have reference points as you move along.

I enjoy reading about your experiences as they mimic many of mine, despite the fact that we grew up in different countries, thousands of miles apart. Joe was a unifying theme for 10’s of thousands of kids of our generation. It’s fun to have that connection and see how things were so similar despite our other differences.

Thanks, Mike. I don’t know how you deal with triplets. Twins are hard enough!

Oh, man, I wish I had been writing all along. There’s so much I used to know that I just simply forgot. And I really wish I could fully remember the experience finding a new batch of vintage Joes in a store as a kid again, or just playing with them with my childhood friends. But this is the next best thing and writing opens the door to remembering a lot more than I would organically.

I’m sure you’re right that Joe was a unifying force for a lot of kids, but you’re also right that the similarities between us personally are pretty cool and surprisingly numerous.

Congratulations on a year of this! Writing about Joes can be one of those things that falls by the wayside pretty easily, so being able to keep it up is great.

I was really stoked, finding this place through Twitter. There’s not a ton of G.I. Joe content that’s not youtube videos or lists, nowadays, so well written articles are great to see! Your stuff is fun, because there’s always an interesting fact, or even just hearing about the process your collecting has gone through.

Keep up the good work, and thanks a ton for the kind words 🙂

Thanks, AG! It’s a labour of love, for sure, because it does take a fair amount of time. I can imagine there will be times when I’m going to take a break but hopefully I’ve built up enough routine, momentum and even interest that I’ll keep coming back to it. And it’s nice to feel like I’m contributing something to the community.

Sounds like you and I are similar. I don’t have the patience to watch many videos, and I don’t get a lot of value out of lists (though I may still write a few, we’ll see!). I’m just far more interested in reading.

I appreciate your kind words, too. Your stuff is phenomenal in how it combines such a high level of writing with amazing photography, so it’s right up my alley.

Congrats on a full year, Colin! I think you have as many posts as I do, and my website has been around for 3 (?) years or so now. That’s impressive! Your post count for a year, not my low count for three years.

I’m really glad your website exists and I’m glad I found it. I love your perspective and your stories. We grew up in different eras of GI Joe, but I love the entire toy line and really enjoy reading about the 80s figures and vehicles from the people who lived it.

And thanks for the shoutout!

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