Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Complicated life of Tom Khayos

The complicated life of Tom Khayos is a collection of writings I'll be releasing in no particular order. It mainly is to explain how I became me and it will always involve toys, comics, video games and other nonsense.

The Complicated life of Tom Khayos

                                         The Ballad of Frankenstein Snake Eyes

To tell you the story of Frankenstein Snake Eyes, I have to give you some background on my life. My knowledge of the toy world wasn't divine intuition, it was cultivated by some key people in my life. My mother and grandmother were very integral in my background as a toy collector and dealer. I would be brought to doll shows as a young child and roam around with them and scout out good finds and when they were set up selling dolls, I could be found under the table taking a nap in between my scouting trips. Both my mother and grandmother taught me how to identify dolls, clothing, accessories and other collectibles as well as know the difference between reproductions and originals. 

But there was three other people who taught me just as much as my immediate family members did, those three I considered close enough that I would call them family. One of those three is my friend Doug, a man who has been buying and selling toys longer than I've been alive. I met Doug formally in my late teens and he helped me refine my skills as a negotiator and helped me become more savvy when tracking down collections to buy and sell. With his help, I learned just about every trick in the book in the toy world and the convention circuit. With the knowledge I gained from him I consider myself one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the collectible toy industry.  

The other two on my short list of honing my skills and cultivating my knowledge of toys and collectibles was my mom’s friends Dena and Helen. Both of them collectors in their own right, I got to know them through their collectibles shop Re-Play Toys. Being young, I looked up to both of them. “This is what I want to do when I grow up!” I thought.Over the years, I grew up hanging around the store pretty much every free moment I had. After school, on the weekends and during the summer I could be found helping out, cleaning, assembling, pricing and selling toys that were brought in and bought by the store. Both ladies were very sweet and treated me very well and I still consider them family to this day and have spent lots of time with them and their families over the years. I learned a lot at the store and still look back fondly at that time in my life. While I may not be doing what I said I wanted to do all those years ago, I’m still involved in the toy world and it probably wouldn't be that way if they hadn't helped fuel my passion for this field.

And the moment this has all been leading to: The story behind Frankenstein Snake Eyes

Recently, Dena had passed away. It was rough on my mother and I, we hadn't had a family member or someone we considered a family member die since my grandmother’s passing in 2003 and Helen and Dena’s father passing in 2005. Dena had a big impact on my life, she encouraged me to learn more about what was sold in the store and always rewarded my hard work both on store projects and school work. I’d sit around the store with my nose in a collectibles book or Toy Shop magazine and use my recently gained knowledge to piece together dozens of GI Joes, Star Wars figures and vehicles and boxes of loose Transformers. I feel it’s important not to mourn someone’s passing but celebrate their life the way they would have wanted to have been remembered so I dedicated a weekend worth of toy hunting at the flea market to her and went for lunch with my mom to Dena’s favorite restaurant, a little Italian restaurant known as Gino’s. The funeral and wake came and went, the family had their moment of grieving behind them and so came the task of cleaning out Dena’s house. 

Re-Play Toys had been closed for nearly 12 years and Dena had decided to take her business online through eBay. I had no idea how business went or even if the title of Re-Play Toys was still being used in any capacity. Dena’s sister Helen still bought and sold toys, collectibles and other nicknacks online but had branched out under her own name online and as I mentioned before I still do conventions and occasionally sell online under my own name but had kind of lost track of what Dena was doing or if she was still involved in the business. I feel kind of bad in a way, like many of you I have grown apart from some of my friends and family.

What was left at her house was distributed among family and friends that it would mean the most to. What I received was something I hadn't seen in nearly over a decade, Frankenstein Snake Eyes. What I received brought back so many good memories, to the average person it just looks like a cobbled together figure just kind of slapped together but to me it’s a prized possession. The kind of thing I’d run into a burning building to save. I felt it needed to be shared in the only way I felt it could be described, a lengthy blog posting involving a bit of my personal history and a kind of a last tribute to a friend/ family member now gone.

No one knows the story behind Frankenstein Snake Eyes. I was under the impression that I had created it out of a pile of leftovers from a GI Joe collection but I found out that I was mistaken. Then I thought possibly Dena had made it during a slow day at the store out of the store’s random pieces box but no one could verify that either. For all I know, Frankie could have showed up this way in a collection but his origin remains a mystery. I had memories of Frankie hanging out at the register at Re-Play Toys and remembering Dena was quite attached to it. People offered money on numerous occasions and even I asked if my day’s work could be paid for with Frankenstein Snake Eyes, but all offers were turned down. No matter wherever it came from, it was very special to her and I felt very honored to inherit this legendary figure. 

The only thing I’d like to do with the figure is make a vehicle and do a throwback package to put it all in. Let’s face it, most of the cool GI Joe figures came as a pack in with the vehicles in the line. The feel I get from the toy is Frankenstein would command a fairly impressive vehicle that looks  like something out of Mad Max, not so much the missiles and machine guns but something with some muscle and armor. Something along the lines of a modified dump truck with a shovel or cow catcher on the front with armored or spiked hub caps. And then package it up in a classic style box, I feel it would be a fitting tribute to the toy.

And here I sit with this epic figure, still admiring it like I did all those years ago. An heirloom piece of local toy history from what I gather. I wouldn't change anything about it’s scratched paint job, loose joints or anything else about it; it’s this way for a reason and I’d only fix it if it became broken for some reason. I happen to be significantly younger than a good portion of the local toy collectors in the Tampa area but they all remember the rag tag unofficial mascot of Re-Play Toys hanging out by the register, holding on to the business cards or hanging off of the cup full of pens. Just commenting on it to my small group of friends who are toy collectors brought up a lot of nostalgic moments with them as well. They all remembered how cool the store was and how nice Dena and her sister Helen were to anyone who came in the shop. It had traveled from their original shop at the Floriland Mall Flea Market to their shop off of Busch boulevard to Dena’s house and finally into my possession. I’ll really cherish it for the rest of my life and it will always remind me of one of the key people in my life who helped me develop the deep appreciation I have for toys and their history.

**written June 2012

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