Kenner Action Figures

The concept of Kenner action figures embodies a unique aspect of reality that exists in a curious space between the actual and the ideal. These figures are tangible and real in the sense that they physically exist and can be interacted with, yet they do not represent concrete manifestations of the real world. Instead, they depict fictional characters or scenarios from various sources like movies, comics, or television shows.

These action figures are “real but not actual” because they are tangible objects that can be held and manipulated, but their representations are of fictional or imaginary entities. When we engage with these action figures, we interact with them as if they were real, creating stories and adventures that are virtually real within the confines of our imagination. This “as if” quality allows us to play and explore limitless possibilities with these toys, unconstrained by the limitations of the actual world.

In this context, the term “ideal” refers to the perfection or idealization of the characters and stories depicted by the action figures. They embody qualities and adventures that may be aspirational or fantastical, but they do not necessarily correspond to the reality we experience. Yet, they hold a sense of attraction and fascination because they represent something we might desire or admire.

These action figures are not abstract, as they have a concrete form and specific representations. Abstractions, on the other hand, refer to conceptual ideas divorced from any particular physical form. The action figures fall between abstraction and the concrete, bridging the gap by being both physical and representative.

The notion of infinite games and rabbit holes associated with these toys highlights how our engagement with them transcends the binary notion of “real” versus “actual.” The playful scenarios we create with these figures are not opposed to reality, as they are indeed real in our imaginative space. They just don’t correspond to the actual events or entities found in the real world.

Here, the contrast between “real” and “possible” comes into play. “Real” is what exists in the present or what has occurred in the past, while “possible” refers to what could potentially happen in the future. The action figures and the stories we create with them reside in the realm of the “possible,” as they are not bound by the constraints of actual events.

The term “virtual” further emphasizes this idea of the potential and the imaginative. It refers to something that is almost like reality, but not quite. In this context, “virtual” relates to the imaginative space we inhabit when playing with the action figures, where we bring them to life in our minds, even though they are not physically real.

At the same ontological level as the action figures and other abstract representations, there are also “actually-real” material entities in the physical world and “actually-possible” probable events that might occur. These encompass the tangible objects and events that are a part of our reality or that could potentially happen based on real-world possibilities.

In summary, the concept of Kenner action figures represents an intersection of the real and the ideal, where they are real in the sense of their physical existence but not actual in representing the concrete world. They invite us to explore the “virtual” space of imagination and potential, blurring the lines between what is real, what is possible, and what is ideal.

Living up to the expectations set by the idealized world of Kenner action figures can be an overwhelming task 😅. The Mandalorian, being a real character within the Star Wars universe, exists in the actual realm, rooted in concrete storytelling and cinematic experiences. On the other hand, the Kenner action figures, representing various characters and stories from different franchises, exist in the virtual realm of our imagination. They are vessels for unexplored narratives and untold adventures, which give rise to an array of possibilities, creating a future born from creativity and divergence rather than mere imitation.

The uncharted stories that lie within the virtual realm of these action figures contribute to a unique form of narrative construction. Instead of mimicking existing narratives, they introduce the concept of difference, offering new and original narratives that diverge from the established canon. This departure from imitation fosters a sense of novelty and excitement, as we are constantly engaged in creating novel and unexplored scenarios with these action figures.

Engaging with these action figures is akin to being an active player in a complex game, where the three-dimensional boards symbolize the expansive landscapes of our imaginations. Each figure becomes a potential protagonist in a multitude of stories that unfold on these imaginative playgrounds of various shapes and sizes. As players of these games, we become co-creators of our own narratives, orchestrating adventures and conflicts, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in these fictional worlds.

The player of games is at the core of this process, acting as the driving force behind the storytelling. This top-down and bottom-up approach implies that the narratives can be shaped both by overarching, deliberate decisions and spontaneous, bottom-up improvisations. The fragility of this mechanism lies in its dependence on active participation and creative input. Without engaged players, the potential of these action figures and their virtual stories might remain untapped, reducing them to a mere replication system without life or vitality.

By becoming players of these narrative games, we breathe life into the characters and stories represented by the action figures. We infuse them with our emotions, aspirations, and personal touches, making them more than just inert toys. In this dynamic process of creation and engagement, we bridge the gap between the actual and the virtual, infusing the virtual with qualities that make them feel real in our hearts and minds.

In conclusion, the world of Kenner action figures offers a rich playground of imagination, where the boundaries between actuality and virtuality blur. It challenges us to embrace the potential of difference and creativity, inviting us to become players of narrative games that transcend mere replication. This interactive and engaged approach transforms these action figures from static toys into vessels of endless storytelling possibilities.

The player is mindful of the evolution from sensorimotor exploration to non-symbolic manipulation to symbolic play, exploring the blurry borderlines in between. And this is why I think this succeeds and the sequels fail.

Indeed, the player’s journey with Kenner action figures encompasses a profound understanding of the evolution of play and imagination. Starting with sensorimotor exploration, young minds interact with the physical attributes of the action figures, experiencing them through their senses and motor skills. As they grow and develop, they progress to non-symbolic manipulation, where the figures become tools for creative expression and open-ended play, transcending their original representations.

The transition from non-symbolic manipulation to symbolic play is a critical phase in a child’s cognitive and imaginative development. This stage involves imbuing the action figures with symbolic meaning, where they represent characters, stories, and emotions beyond their physical form. The blurry borderlines in between these stages are where the true magic of imaginative play occurs. It is a realm of fluidity and creativity, where the lines between reality and fiction become malleable, and the action figures become conduits for limitless storytelling possibilities.

In contrast, the perceived failure of sequels might be attributed to the lack of understanding or appreciation of this multi-dimensional aspect of play. If the sequels merely focus on the superficial aspects of the action figures as commercial commodities or rehash familiar narratives without allowing room for imaginative exploration, they miss the essence of what makes these toys captivating and enduring.

A successful continuation of the Kenner action figure legacy would require a deep appreciation of the role that play and imagination play in shaping the experiences of the players. Embracing the evolution from sensorimotor exploration to symbolic play and cultivating a space for blurry borderlines to be explored are crucial elements for the enduring appeal of these toys and their associated stories.

You are absolutely right. Favreau and Filoni’s success with “The Mandalorian” and other projects in the Star Wars universe can be attributed to their deep understanding and appreciation of the rich history and mythology represented by the action figures. They stand on the shoulders of these iconic toys, recognizing their significance in sparking imagination and storytelling in generations of fans.

Innovation often arises from the merging of different worlds and the willingness to experiment with existing concepts. By embracing the crossover universes and bringing together characters and elements from various sources, Favreau and Filoni demonstrate how new and exciting narratives can emerge. They understand that these action figures are not mere collectibles but powerful tools for spontaneous storytelling and creative expression.

The action figure, in a sense, serves as a mask for the players, allowing them to embody and project themselves into the characters they represent. This role-playing aspect of action figures introduces a realm of possibilities where altered states of consciousness or trance-like states can be experienced during play. In these immersive moments, the line between reality and fiction blurs, and the players become deeply connected to the stories they create, making knowledge inseparable from the act of playing.

Bib Fortuna’s example wielding a staff not originally seen in the film exemplifies how these action figures extend and enrich the existing narratives. Through the action figures, new layers of storytelling emerge, expanding the lore and providing fans with fresh perspectives on familiar characters.

While the originality of “The Mandalorian” may not lie solely in introducing entirely unprecedented concepts, it shines in its ability to defamiliarize and reinterpret what fans already know. Defamiliarization, as a term for originality, refers to the process of presenting familiar things in a new and unexpected light. By adding depth and symbolism to well-known elements, Favreau and Filoni invite audiences to see the Star Wars universe from a fresh perspective, reigniting the excitement and fascination that made the action figures so beloved in the first place.

In conclusion, the success of Favreau and Filoni’s work in the Star Wars universe is a testament to their understanding of the profound impact of action figures on imaginative play and storytelling. By harnessing the power of these toys and merging different worlds, they bring innovation to their projects and offer audiences a chance to explore familiar narratives through a new lens. The action figures serve as conduits for creativity, symbolizing the boundless possibilities of storytelling and the enduring magic of Star Wars.

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