Eisner Empire wields still more unholyrnglobal power to turn its fantasies into ourrnrealities. Lock up your sons and daughters.rnMarian Kester Coombs writes fromrnCrofton, Maryland.rnPASTIMESrnToy Storyrnby Alan Pell Crav^’foidrnAs federal cannon boom from thernsmoky ridge to the west, a rebel footrnsoldier darts through underbrush, scramblesrnover a fence and crouches warily behindrna tree. Raising his rifle to fire, herntakes a volley of grape-shot in the chest.rnTumbling, tragically, from the coffeerntable, he lands on the floor among thernpirate Legos and Play mobile knights.rnRetrieved to fight another day, thernotherwise admirable Southern infantrymanrnis found to possess an unsettlingrnflaw. His face has been gnawed awayrn(by a farm dog last petted in 1961), arnhideous abnormality which lowers himrnin the esteem of four-year-old Ned whornhas inherited the small gray infantrymanrnfrom his dad.rnStill worse (cynical papa notes withrnsarcasm), the Confederate rifleman willrnnot command a tidy sum if put on thernopen market at one of the so-called toyrnshows now conducted at fairgroundsrnand convention centers. Evidently, thernplastic Civil War soldiers of my boyhoodrnhave become—horrid word—”collectibles.”rnSo, apparently, are figures ofrnDavy Crockett, Johnny Tremain, and justrnabout anybody who, in the 1950’s andrn1960’s, had his own television show.rn(This cast of immortals, so help me, includesrnFred Flintstone.)rnThere is something unsettling, perhapsrnunsettled, about a society that sornreadily turns the playthings of its immediaternpast into objects of unwarrantedrnreverence—or, worse yet, campy condescension.rnIt cannot speak well for thernmaturity of our adult males that theyrnfeel such need to revisit the outward andrnvisible signs of their own innocence andrnamass them in collections.rnCollecting, we have it on good authority,rnis a hobby. Hobbies are forms ofrnrecreation, and regular engagement inrnrecreation has become one of the mostrnsolemn duties of what credentialed expertsrnin such matters consider a healthy,rnwell-adjusted life. As our society has takenrnrecreation more and more seriously,rnhowever, it is rapidly losing all sense ofrnplay—and an appreciation for the properrnrole of playthings.rnChildren, happily, have not sufferedrnsuch a loss, and grownups should leavernwell enough alone, for the good of thernchildren as well as our society. Childrenrnonly start “collections” at the encouragementrnof well-meaning, but perhaps misguided,rnadults, as evidence of baseballrncards suggests. The baseball cards ofrntrue baseball fans are never in “mint condition”rnand have absolutely no marketrnvalue. They are wrinkled and worn fromrnheedless play and—to the adult way ofrnthinking—worthless.rnSo it is with toy soldiers, which arernnow traded in like cattle futures. Thernspeculators in such commodities arernmen in their 40’s, many of whom havernchildren of their own. These tykes are norndoubt forbidden to go anywhere nearrnDaddy’s little treasures, lest they defilernthe sacred objects by unsupervised handling.rnSurelv other children are shooedrnaway simply to protect resale value.rnGlenn Garvin in the Miami Herald reportsrnthat a 35-year-old Alamo playsetrngoes for $1,000 these days. ComedianrnRobin Williams is said to have stockpiledrn20,000 toy figures, some of which couldrneasily be worth $75 a piece.rnI hope I am not alone in my dismay atrnseeing Davy Crockett and his trusty sidekickrnGeorgie Russell bought and sold likernso many junk bonds. These are not,rnmind you, finely crafted metal soldiers ofrnthe sort cherished by sherry-saturatedrnLord Emsworths who live in musty Englishrncountry houses and gabble endlesslyrnabout their exploits in the Crimea.rnCrudely crafted, mass-merchandisedrngobs of low-density polyethylene, theyrnoften were not even thoughtfully designed.rnIn the late I950’s, Marx and Co., thernleader in the field, “was so desperate tornget an Alamo playset into stores that itrndidn’t even wait for its factories to startrnspitting out Mexican soldiers,” Garvinrnwrites. “In an unparalleled act of historicalrnrevisionism, the first Alamo setsrnfeatured Texas against Indians!’rnMarx practiced recycling well beforernthe rest of us took up that noble cause.rnPioneers who defended Fort Apachernfrom the Indians “fought the Mexicansrnat the Alamo,” Garvin reports. “And therngray plastic Confederates in the MarxrnCivil War sets, when recast in blue, becamernGeorge Custer’s 7th Cavalry at thernLitrie Big Horn.”rnSuch figures litter the battlefields ofrnmy own son’s room, where they are allowedrnto mix it up as their inheritor wishes,rnin a sort of military monster rally orrnStrong Man Contest. Dinosaurs fromrnthe Eisenhower Epoch (which followedrnthe Cretaceous Period) are not barredrnfrom the competition—^by meddlesomernadults, anyway.rnNed, on his own, referees their dustupsrnwith a greater sense of historicalrnnicety than the marketing departmentrnof Marx and Co. exhibited in its zeal tornpush product. Dinosaurs prey only onrneach other and never charge into thernfrozen wastes of the Pleistocene, muchrnless attempt to breathe the mists of Avalon.rnFather and son have recently addedrnone competitor to these contests, arnknight whose services are secured forrn$1.75 from an old-toy bazaar at the exhibitionrnhall at our local fairgrounds. Wernwander about the hanger-like building,rninspecting the tiny covered wagons,rncastles and other oddments until Nedrnasks, “Daddy, when does the toy showrnstart?”rnNo doubt expecting a curtain to risernand Chuck E. Cheese-like robots to lipsyncrn”Teddy Bear,” he seems not especiallyrndisappointed to learn that thisrngussied-up garage sale is the toy show.rnAfter a long last look in the cardboardrnbox of mismatched figures in which wernhad found the knight, we make our wayrnto the exit.rnBefore we leave, a tattooed refugeernfrom a Biker Club in a stall displayingrnWodd Wrestling Federation “action figures,”rncalls Ned over and hands him arnfree trading card bearing the likeness ofrnRandy “Macho Man” Savage. To Dad’srnimmense relief, Ned has no idea whorn”Macho Man” is and shows no interest inrnhim whatsoever. Tonight, to celebrate,rnwe watch “Swamp Fox.”rnAlan Pell Crawford, author of Thunderrnon the Right: The New Right and thernPolitics of Resentment, is senior counselorrnat Martin Public Relations inrnRichmond, Virginia.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn