Five Ways to Live Like an Action Figure This Summer

Among the rites and ceremonies of summer is the release of new action figures. As bombastic blockbusters hit the theaters, their 3¾-inch tie-ins flood store shelves and allow 120 minutes of popcorn-fueled entertainment to last an extra three months.

Marvel fired the first salvo of the season with The Avengers (out Friday), but as the studio output grows though June, July, and August, so will the selections of little plastic totems. Even if the movies themselves turn out to be disappointments, the sweet, sweet merchandise that accompanies them will turn a profit.

The reason is simple: Action figures work because we project a little bit of ourselves onto their ideal forms -- giving ourselves permission (at least temporarily) to be awesome.

However, you don't have to (as my dad would say) "play with dolls" to reap positive benefits. And though we can't legally condone getting a full-body latex paint job and a subsequent wrap in plastic, we've composed a list of how you can spice up your summer by living like an action figure.

5. Create a Backstory There's got to be one social media site you're not keeping up on. Why not repurpose your Tumblr as a GI Joe-inspired file card? Snap a photo of yourself looking badass, give yourself a cool code name, highlight your skills, and create an epic backstory.

You're a network engineer from Apache Junction with uncanny juggling skills? You shall hereby be referred to as "Bandwidth." Easy right?

Helpful hint: Just this once, it's okay to embrace your cultural stereotype. Check out this old-school GI Joe -- the token Native American/reconnaissance expert Spirit. Offensive? Most certainly. Did the unfair cliché keep him from kicking a lot of Cobra ass? Not a chance.

4. Accessorize Action figures have at least one go-to accessory. Perhaps a laser shield is too much, too soon -- but go find/make/buy yourself something that defines you and carry it with you everywhere. Go ahead and be as impractical as you want and "treat yo'self," Tom Haverford-style. It's the summer. Buy those new sunglasses. Rock that satchel. Wield that broadsword.

Helpful hint: You can start on this one right away, just start referring to your personal vehicle as the "____mobile" and your dog as "____hound." Everything else will fall into place.

3. Set the scene Action figures, no matter what the mission, always do their jobs against amazing backdrops. Sure, you can pose your playthings against a plain white wall and imagine them in a decimated cityscape, but it's much more fun to set them up against a photorealistic diorama while firing up a fog machine for added effect.

You can add a similar sense of awe to your daily grind -- just break free of the office for a few hours and go outside to do your work.

Helpful hint: Load your laptop and files into your ____mobile and go crunch data at a place like Arizona Falls. Natural light and a scenic landscape is going to make your spreadsheet 20 percent more epic.

2. Present Yourself Favorably Here it is, swimsuit season -- and those early-January promises to "get in shape" have gone unfulfilled again. Don't be hard on yourself. Take a cue from little plastic statues everywhere and develop a kick-ass posture. Maybe you're not He-Man ripped or willing to pour yourself into a form-fitting catsuit, but find your good side and a pose that works for you and own it.

Helpful hint: Spider-Man doesn't slouch and neither should you. However, Spider-Man does tend to lead with his crotch. Maybe try that one out by yourself in front of a mirror before committing to it in a public setting.

1.Go Forth and Be Awesome Action figures, more than anything else, are doers -- they jump right into the world around them. Even toy supervillains, with their dastardly plots for world domination aren't afraid to stir things up. This summer, break out of your routine and immerse your "man/woman of action" persona in new activities, locations, social situations or hobbies.

Helpful hint: Don't get out of control and always play nice with others. There's a reason Hasbro doesn't make "Obnoxious D-Bag" figures.

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Bob Beard