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.
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.