Make It So

Bloggified by Jake on Sunday, March 7, 2010

After putting it off for too long, I've been going through some old boxes in my closet. Most of these were packed up when I moved out of the townhouse I was renting in 2002-03 and weren't ever opened despite three moves since.

I mentioned on Twitter that I'd have some stuff available to the highest bidder/whoever was willing to drive over here and pick it up first, but before I handed anything over, I had to through it all and see what unexpected surprises I might find. I'm pretty sure I hid some naked photos of my ex-fiancée between the pages of one of these comics back around 1999.

As I found some things, I mentioned them on Twitter and Facebook, but of everything, one item garnered the most interest. Not necessarily interest in acquiring it, but more in knowing how the hell someone comes to be in possession of such a thing.

And so we come to the extremely boring story of The Box of Captain Picards.

The origins of this tale are rooted in a nexus of sci-fi geekery and speech-and-debate geekery. In 1992-93, I was a member of my high school speech and debate team. One January weekend, we were headed to Prescott for a tournament to qualify for the state championships and had to stay overnight. We weren't allowed to go out on Friday night--not that there was anywhere to go or anything to do in Prescott on a Friday night even if we were allowed--so several of us hung out in our hotel room watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. But, because we were bored, we decided to mute the TV and each took a character to voice, improvising dialog and making jokes.

Anyway, I did Picard. At the tournament, everyone who'd been in the room that night qualified for state, so to celebrate, I went to Target and bought everyone a Star Trek action figure of their character for good luck the rest of the season. I got this one:(Ignore any of the junk in the background. It's just there because we're having the carpet replaced and everything from the bedrooms has had to be stacked up in the family room and dining room.)

For the rest of the year, I kept Captain Picard in my pocket for every round of every tournament. And I never lost. I won first place in Humorous Interpretation at every tournament for the rest of 1993 all the way through the state championship.(Hey, look what other junk I found digging though these boxes!)

I also qualified to go to Nationals in Indianapolis, which is apparently a reward in some cultures. Before I left, a few of my teammates presented me with another Captain Picard action figure for good luck at Nationals. I was quickly bounced from the tournament, though the unlucky new figure wasn't to blame as much as politics (Arizona's style of humorous interp and National Forensic League traditional style are apparently very different and my performance was considered insulting to the tournament) and my generally being burned out on speech and debate and preferring to spend a week of my first post-graduation summer trying to get laid with drama chicks from across the country that I'd never have to worry about seeing again than rehearse and stress about a ten minute speech that judges were going to pan regardless of my performance if only because it was about a cockroach and my haircut was ridiculous, even by 1993 standards.

(For the record, my piece was a recut version of "The No-Wax Killing Floor" from Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. If you find a copy in the back issues at your local comic shop, pick it up.)

So, long story short, I won a lot of trophies and I displayed them in my bedroom. And with them put the two Picard figures since they were an important part of the year.

Enter my friend Robert, who saw the Picards, but didn't know their connection to speech and debate. Instead, he saw them displayed proudly alongside a cadre of trophies and assumed they must be special to me because of how much I liked Patrick Stewart. At some point in the summer of 1993, he was out at a store and saw a Picard figure I didn't own, so he bought it and gave it to me as a gift. A few month later, someone traded in some Star Trek figures at the comic book shop where he works, so he pulled the Picards and gave them to me. Soon, I had a dozen or so figures and things got out of control.

Whenever a new figure hit the stores, Robert would buy it for me. Whenever old figures got traded in, he would grab it before any customers could buy it. I was just along for the ride, not sure why he was doing so, but finding the whole situation fun. As most comic collectors can understand, there's a completist mentality that kicks in once you own a certain percentage of something and by the time I owned all but a half dozen or so Picard figures, I sure as hell wasn't going to tell him to stop before I found out whether it was possible to own it all.

I had Picard in various outfits.I had Picard in various sizes.I had Picard statues.And once I had everything Picard, various other Patrick Stewart roles began showing up.Then I started getting customized things like this Heroclix figure Robert made...And for Christmas of 2002, our friend Jim commissioned an all-Picard nativity scene from Robert. (Note that everyone's hair and headpieces have been painted flesh tone and that one of the wise men has been assimilated by the Borg.And all told, I've purchased two, maybe three of these for myself. The other 50-60 pieces, including the dozens I didn't photograph, have all been gifts. I used to display them in my apartment in Yuma (1999-2000) and the townhouse mentioned above, but since 2003, they've been living in this box. During that time, I learned the back story for why Robert started buying me the Picards, and I haven't acquired any new figures (though I did have an email alert on eBay for a while in case a rare set from the episode "Darmok" was put up for sale. The only ones I ever saw were from Australia, so I wonder if it was some kind of exclusive down there.)

So, it seems the time is right to cut my ties to the past. I think I'll keep the original figure, but the rest will be better off in some Trekkie's house where they'll get the love and appreciation they deserve.

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