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Toys No Child Could Love #4: Orko

Rich Cerow

Is wearing a shirt with the first letter of your name cool?
Orko was the pathetic comic relief for Masters of the Universe that every cartoon in the 1980s apparently needed to have. And for some reason these were always kids (I'm not actually sure if Orko was a child, or merely mentally handicapped). Bumbling, screw everything up and get kidnapped kids, who make you wonder why the heroes even keep them around since all they seem to do is nearly get everybody killed all the time. And Orko was probably the template for all of these, He-Man (as the kids called it) was kind of setting the tone for all the half-hour long commercials for toy lines that followed it. And, really, what kid wanted to play as a kid? Being a kid was horrible; you were probably a screw-up just like Orko, but you didn't get to hang out in a cool old magical castle like Grayskull. No, you just had your boring old room with your lame dolls like Orko, reminding you of what a failure you were. You didn't want to be Orko, you wanted to be He-Man (or his effeminate counter-part, Prince Adam, if you were a lady or a sissy). You wanted to be a grown-up, who could drive a car or ride a tiger, and nobody could tell you when to go to bed or stop with your hare-brained magical schemes. I mean, Orko probably had it worse than you, so why on earth would you want to live out your power fantasies through him? At least you weren't getting kidnapped by Skeletor all the time, or ruining He-Man's birthday by accidentally summoning a fire-breathing dragon when all you wanted was to light the candles on his cake.

But, ultimately, what makes the Orko doll a true failure as a source of joy for a child is simple envy. See, Orko had no legs. Which meant, when he wasn't your active character, he had to just lay there, ruining the illusion that he was a floating, disembodied being. And that would get you thinking about the commercials, where Orko is always hung on fishing line, or propped up by a clear plastic tube. And there he was battling evil doers in one of those totally awesome paper mache battlegrounds they built for all the commercials. And damn if your Return of the Jedi bedspread was a poor substitute for an art department's hand-crafted waterfall cliffsides. Orko brought that problem to the forefront; you couldn't look at him lying there limp without a jealous rage at your decided lack of cool environs (and, being a kid, there was no way you could ever hope to make one of those on your own) enveloping your play session. Oh, sure, once in a while some kid's dad was really into model trains and he had what would be the neatest playset ever, but that model train dad was also invariably extremely anal about every little detail on there, so you couldn't mess it up by having your Transformers crush trees or toss trains
Ice cream, Lt. Dan!
at each other. So, what, you were stuck with pretending your Joes were in some marshland on your grandma's pea green shag carpet? Or piling up pillows on your bedroom floor to represent a sheer cliffside? Orko just reminded you that none of those compared to what those little brats got to play around with on a set for a day. And they got paid to do it! Damn you, Orko, and your bumbling, legless reminders of my total inadequacies as a child.

Orko should have been replaced with... Lietenant Dan from Forrest Gump.


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