All boys growing up in America had those big bags of green plastic soldiers that cost a dollar at the supermarket. These were seven or eight different types of 2-inch-tall world-war-two style plastic soldiers frozen in an "action pose" and were normaly used for setting on fire or strapping firecrackers to. But sometimes I actually used them properly, playing the game all boys know the rules to but can't quite explain: "War".

  • There was the crouching-aiming-the-rifle guy. Since he kind of looks like he's a sniper, I always put him on the high altitude location, like on the dresser or the top of a shoebox. He was the recon unit, he saw the entire battle taking place and took his shot when necessary.
  • There was the throwing-the-pineapple-grenade guy. I always placed this one behind some cover, since when you are tossing a grenade, you're wide open. When you're a toy soldier, cover is very important.
  • The shooting-the-bazooka guy. In my opinion, you can't get enough bazooka guys. Everybody knows that lots and lots of explosions are very important to win a war. And bazookas look cool too. Yeah.
  • The radio guy. This guy may not actually be able to kill anybody, but the general rule is to pretend he's a spy and is invisible, or to pretend he's a medic and can bring the dead guys back to life.
  • Chaingun man. This is the guy that lays flat on the ground with the chaingun propped up. These were always a rarity in the bag. I guess they must cost more to make or something. Regardless, the chaingun guys were always placed on the front lines, ready to mow down any enemy bazooka guys or grenade-tossing-guys.
  • Mortar-firing-guy. This guy crouched behind a tripod mortar and shot shells at the other team. The only problem was I didn't know what a mortar did at the time so I thought he shot some sort of laser beam. Those took out the helicopters and planes.

    And finally:

  • The toy soldier with the metal detector. The official purpose of this guy is to find buried landmines. What was the point? There wasn't a toy soldier that planted the landmines, so why should there be one that finds them?

    What a waste of plastic. A minesweeper with no mines to sweep for. He didn't even have a gun, and didn't look cool like the radio man. He just looked like the guy who lived at the end of my block that walks around the neighborhood with his Radio Shack metal detector, trying to find gold in my lawn. What is his possible use?

    Now for the philosophical moral that makes this writeup worthwile:

    What soldier are you? You don't want to be the worthless minesweeper, working hard but accomplishing nothing. Be the chaingun guy. Or maybe laser-beam-man.

    Or not.

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