In the eternal quest to re-acquire significant artifacts of my childhood, I’m not adverse towards opting for a later upgrade of the original object. For example, when it came to picking up replacements for the two most beloved figures in my old assortment of Star Wars figures…
…I went with the improved sculpts and articulation of their modern day counterparts.
Forget Luke or Vader or Han or any of the beloved alien creatures — I was ride or die for the Biker Scout and Cloud Car Pilot. Or I was, until G.I. Joe supplanted Star Wars as the gold standard for action figures.
There was something about the faceless, rank-and-file figures that appealed to my younger self. It most likely came from a pre-Star Wars childhood spent surrounded by scores upon scores of plastic army men. They weren’t prominent personas with canonical story arcs, just working stiffs who offered a blank canvas with which my imagination could run wild.
Why did I settle my affections on these two out of the score of similar figures in that class?
The Biker Scout was one of the first examples of the franchise adopting a more “Eighties” aesthetic. It was how I wanted Stormtroopers to look, instead of the Mister Toad helmets and skinny ankles the figure was saddled with. I picked up my original figure at a department store in Wilkes-Barre during a road trip with my grandparents, which added an extra dash of exotic allure to it. He was cool enough that I actually sprung for a speeder bike for him to ride, even though I almost never blew my hard-earned money on vehicles unless they came with a figure (another leg up G.I. Joe had on Star Wars).
With the Cloud Car Pilot, it came down to the hypnotically mellow color scheme. His mix of bright orange, lemon, and white made him look like a sci-fi mascot for Creamsicles, and is why he’s the only Star Wars figure who evokes lucid taste memories when I gaze upon him. The original figure also had an unusual sculpt where his left arm was turned toward his chest so that he could hold what appeared to be the controller for an RC dune buggy. He was weird and different, which made it stand out on his peg in the toy aisle and get a toehold in my imagination.
The pair of them saw quite a bit of play, though neither were granted a name beyond their roles. No matter what melodramatic adventures they got up to, they remained “Biker Scout” and “Cloud Car Pilot.” Eventually both succumbed to wear and tear and the general griminess white plastic playthings succumb to in the hands of a kid — which is another reason I went with remakes over the vintage figures.
Now the pair have been reunited at long last, and occupying a place with a greatly reduced chance of getting minced by a lawnmower, eaten by a wayward canine, or smooshed beneath the rear wheel of a 1979 Chrysler Cordoba.