Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sam, As It Ever Was

Two weeks ago our family descended upon Eckman's Comic, Card, and Toy Show once again to scour its stalls for new finds and old memories. My nephew was hunting for zombies, my niece for My Little Pony. My brother John and I had decided we would go in not looking for anything in particular, but to just drift, browse, and enjoy, and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

We broke up into various units and the search began. After an hour and a half or so we foregathered near one of the exits in preparation to leave, and review what we had seen and bought. I hadn't scored much, just the accessories for the Marx Odin viking figure (ax, sword, shield, knife, horn, bow, quiver, arrows, and assorted helmets), a Final Fantasy action figure, and my brother John had found and given me the bear from the Crest Zoo Animals premium. Good stuff, and I was satisfied and ready to leave, when my sister mentioned seeing some of the Ralph Bakshi The Lord of the Rings action figures, and particularly Sam.

Now I have mentioned before in this blog that way back in 1979 we got all the Knickerbocker LOTR figures, except for Sam. He had always been the hard one to find, apparently, and I had never even seen one in person. We all had to run back (if you can call a fast squeeze through milling crowds a run) to the stall where she had seen it. It belonged to a colorful entrepreneur that my brother had nicknamed Kramer, a fellow who deals in the Sixties and Seventies toys we especially enjoy. John had already scoured his displays, but he had put out new stuff since then, and there they were: Aragorn, Frodo, Gollum, and to our wonder, Sam.

He was not mint in box, of course, and he was missing his little knife, but he was there. Kramer wanted $100 for each figure, but the great thing about these shows is one can haggle, and after some back and forth (and a quick loan from my sister) I purchased Sam for $85. This is a comparable price for similar Sams on eBay, if you figure in shipping and handling, and had the added bonus of being RIGHT THERE to kindle my acquisitive nature. At last I had a Samwise Gamgee in my hot little hand, and all the journey home I kept taking him out in his little plastic display box (we have a rule: no unwrapping till we get home), gazing at his details, and occasionally muttering "My Precious!"

We got home, I dug out the original figures and at last the old gang was complete, with Sam finally standing staunchly at Frodo's side. The quest of thirty-three years was accomplished. The old gap was filled, an odd psychic tension relaxed, "back-story...resolving, heart...melting, desire to destroy world...fading away!" But seriously, one of my three or four big toy yearnings had been fulfilled.

This had gone back a long way. As early as 1980, the almost complete set of LOTR figures (sans Ringwraith's Horse) had been offered in a comic book ad for $3.99 each. I wanted them, but I had no checking account at the time, and my parents had a weird fear about sending checks in the mail. I do not know if they came on cards or if they were simply shipped, but a carded mint Knickerbocker LOTR can go for two or three thousand dollars these days. What an investment that might have been (if I could ever be persuaded to part with them)!

But as for this Sam, my Sam, he might well say (adapting a famous saying) "Well, I'm home!"