Monday, June 30, 2008

Broken Ninjas

I was sitting here this evening, performing surgery. It's my weekly "fix broken toys night". My girls have a variety of different toys that they really like, including some of mine that are a bit older from when I was a kid.

Occasionally they break, and of course, they think Daddy is the James Andrews of toy repair, and that they will all be good as new. Some close, some...not so close.

As I was drilling, taping, etc. it occured to me that their toys are like NFL players. They have their favorites, which change on occasion due to passing fancy. However, the one thing that can instantly end the career of any toy (or player) is injury.

Take the dollar-store ninjas. They were a buck each, and they are the favorite toy of my youngest (they are just right to be "tall" guys for her little princess dolls. And to beat up Dinosaurs trying to kidnap the damsel in distress). However, as dollar toys do, they tend to break fairly easy.

When they break, I have two options: Dump em in the trash, or fix them. I usually try to fix them first, but after a while it gets ridiculous. One ninja has one leg at the thigh and the knee taped in place, both elbows, and his neck to keep his head from falling off. I nicknamed him "Kevin Jones" for continually surviving injury.

The Ninjas are not a big deal when they break because they only cost a buck. Thus, I am not as concerned as when, say my nephew's $30 Buzz Lightyear fell apart after a week. Less expensive players that are injury risks, such as dollar ninjas (guys at vet minimum), are a better risk than a Shaun Alexander $30 Buzz Lightyear that has a propensity to look good a first, but break as soon as its used. Much more money down the drain -- in getting it, and trying to fix it. But it sure does look neat coming out of the box!

Also, sometimes they can be repaired as good as new, other times they are still very usable, but a little more limited, other times...well, they are the Kevin Everett of toys. They survive, but they aren't going to be hitting anyone ever again without falling apart permanently.

Once again, Lions players came to mind tonight. Ernie Sims had some minor surgery on his shoulder -- kind of like the ninja whose arm had fallen off, but nothing was broken. I managed to pry it back on, and it works just as well as it always did -- even though, eventually, it will break down.

KJ came to mind when I was taping up a ninja I had previously repaired. First, his knee came off. The first time, I put it back on, good as new (almost) -- but it was a little loose. Then his other knee came off and I tried to do the same thing. That one broke while repairing, so I had to pull out the cool ninja-looking electrical tape. While he didn't have as much movement (only one leg bent at the knee) he still had his arms and his other leg, so while he'd never quite be the same, he was still quite usable. Unfortunately, this same ninja came in second best to an old Godzilla Nemesis -- buzz-saw belly (don't know the real name) and broke off both arms at the elbows. I tried to repair, but the pins were broke, so it was more tape. Oh, sure, he could still do the job, and had a mean stiff-arm now, but he was only an injury or two away from being tossed aside. So what happened today? He was sitting on the counter, and a pot of spaghetti accidentally got set on him. No melting, but his leg (with the bad knee) broke at the thigh, and his head broke off at the neck. Now, since he is my daughters only Green Ninja, here I am tonight, having taped on his head and his leg at the thigh. He has made yet another comeback -- but he is nowhere near the Ninja she had to start with. His right leg doesn't move at the thigh or knee, his other knee is ready to fall off, neither arm bends at the elbow anymore, and he can't turn his head.

He is usable, but barely.

And how much more money in tape am I going to spend on him? If he were the $30 Buzz I might hang onto the the toy longer... say, like through two major injuries and lots of minor ones like a GM does with first round draft picks...but a dollar ninja?

Interesting side note: My nephew got two Buzz Lightyears -- one big one, and one we got him for about $5 bucks. It didn't have a lot of fancy features, just a good solid figure that moved pretty well, and was an off brand that still looked enough like Buzz to please my nephew. "Big Buzz" has wings that fall off his back when you put them away, his arm chop doesn't chop - it falls off when you press the button, and his bubble helmet falls off if you tip him upside down: He is more like a dollar ninja than big money toy now. Not worth a whole helluva lot, but a lot more wasted money down the drain. "Almost Buzz" has been used harder, and is still in perfect shape -- the fake Buzz is going stronger because he was built for using, not for show. Funny...Millen skipped the $30 Buzz that looked good in the box in the draft and went for the $5 Dollar Off-Brand Action Figure that can get the job done. Lesson learned - don't overspend on high-use toys. You're just out more money when they break.

Basically, in the NFL, there are a lot of different injuries. There are the Screw came loose, but it can be replaced and almost as good as new. Then, there's the it needs to be worked on, but it the end it works close to the same. Finally, there are those injuries where the player may be useful, but they are not at all what they once were. And odds on are, the further down the line a player or a toy gets, the more likely it is they will have the last, final injury that sends them to the scrap heap.

Kevin Jones, S. Alexander, and Daunte Culpepper are examples of broken Buzz Lightyears to me: They held promise - but injuries have made them less than what they were -- and more fragile. Sure, they can still be useful to a team -- at a buck a pop; they are no longer $30 Buzz Lightyears, or even $5 Action Figures - they are $1 ninjas: possibly useful in certain situations, plentiful, cheap, and prone to breaking. The only thing I wonder is: Do they know it yet?


Todd said...

Wow....that's all I have to say to that one haha. I wonder where you think of these things sometimes but as obsessed as I am with the Lions as well I am okay with it...and you're right.

Now to just figure out how to explain, to the people that already make fun of me for being a Lions fan and my weird ways of explaining why we're moving in the right direction, that Kevin Jones=$1 ninja.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, Pung. You take a rainy day Sunday event and write a Seinfeld episode of "Fixing Broken Jerry's ex-girlfriends".

Not to mention that you made two 11 man teams out of G I Joe's, ninjas, Barbie Dolls, and Spiderman and played a football game.

Seriously, loved it.

I also went back to the previous article and wrote a decent post to our Golden Gated friend. He was not trusting in our Lions being higher in YPC than he gave us credit for. I am a little versed in Francisco knowledge as it is my brother's team now that he has moved from Ditka-ville to Candlestick, CA.

I think the Niners are one of the up-and-comers in the league. It's a good thing we play them early. Once the staff figures out the QB, it'll take him six games to get comfortable, and a year to get a good grip on Martz's system. The Lions had the benefit of Kitna (a vet) coming in and knowing how to learn system football. Poor Alex Smith has had three different coordinators in three years.

"To infinity and beyond".


Todd said...

...wish i thought of that "to inifinity and beyond" thing

haha, but hey knowing is half the battle

jreffy said...

When I first read the topic I said to myself "well, he's started off way out in left-field before and still was able to make the connection to the Lions...I'm gonna go with him on this one and hope magic happens again".

I wasn't let down.

I was sitting her laughing, thinking about poor daddy fixing all the dollar-store ninjas with his tape and his "operating room" (workbench). I just couldn't help but laugh.

Very well done.

Anonymous said...

You come up with some of the best analogies!!! That was a great story. I even had my wife over my shoulder reading along. Keep up the good stories, You do a heel of a job!!!!!!

BuzzLightYear to the rescue!!


CHIEFGER139 said...

like your toy analagy
i think it fits our team well-coach rod got stuck with millens toys-many wasted picks and many pieces that dont fit what it takes to win-i think rod finally had the guts to scrap a few of the broken down toys like jones and baily and traded in some of the high cost toys like rogers with the hope of getting some differnt toys that would hopefully work better and bringing in some of his old favorite toys-the tampa guys in hopes of bringing the scrap heap all together to finally produce a winner. i think is much more of a undertacking than just trying to patch a few with bandaids and win with that like he did the 1st 2 years-boy i hope it works!!

Joshua said...

Ahaha, and now with pictures!!! Definitely an all-time epic post, put this one in the archives.

Isphet said...

Our team is made up of too many "dollar ninjas" :(

And Mr. Millen clearly plays rough with them too, because we've lost too many ninjas lately. And sometimes, he drafted PIRATES instead of ninjas (OMG- C. Rog., Joey, BMW to name a few.) We all know that dollar ninjas > dollar pirates.

You feel me? Where my ninjaz at? Holla.

JJLions20 said...

I love the analogies. To add to it I'd say when you buy the toy, your more likely to keep buying tape and using it more. If the toy was there when you moved into the house, or a friend gave it to you, You'll try it out. but if it breaks once you're more likely to throw it away.

Jones was a tough call. Millen bought that toy, and invested in it. Marenelli did not have as much attachment, and was willing to cut him loose. The cap situation was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Anonymous said...

Your thinking is deffinetly out of the box. I would like to thank you for all your wonderful articals.

I just joined a new company and have had to spend alot of time over seas as of late. Since May I have been in Mexico, Isreal, and Sweden. That was five weeks away from home. But while I was gone I still had Mlive and your blog. Just a little piece of home in a strange place helps tremendiously.

I started reading your responces to the mlive articals a long time ago. I added your blog to my favorites as soon as you started it.

I have to admit that that I never respond to anything online (just an avid reader). I know that my writing skills are bad at best. I felt compelled to help you with your repairs though, since repairing industral equipment is what I do for a living. Try to get a bottle of Loctite 495 superbonder.It's industral super glue and bonds platic just about good as new. just be careful where you use is or put something down under your repair that will soak up a stray drop or two. Use this stuff sparingly, since a little goes a long way . I also use it to glue my fingernails back down when they break into the quick. A buddy that I used to work with even used on a sever thumb cut. Not that I would actually recomed that ( I must admit that it did work for him ).

Keep up the great work on your blog. I love your upbeat style.

Just a fan