This was from January, 2018. Still no aircraft carrier. Facebook

(Editor’s note: originally published in 2018, updated due to the fact neither my wife, mom or dad have made the effort to buy me the USS Flagg, I even saw one at a comic convention in Saskatoon after writing this. Dammit.) 

 

So said the Facebook post that crossed my feed a few days after Christmas, 2017. It featured a photo of the USS Flagg, in the original box.

In late December, 2017, the Netflix original series, The Toys That Made Us, dropped on unsuspecting binge watchers. The first season profiled Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man and G.I. Joe.

Aaron Archer, Hasbro designer, 1995-2013, described the USS Flagg in the G.I. Joe episode. “Almost no one had one. Maybe they saw one at the store. Maybe they knew a kid that had one. But, probably the most amazing toy ever made,” he said.

“I still want this, honestly,” the Facebook post said.

Seen in the flesh, or plastic, in 2018, at a comic convention in Saskatoon. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

I believe it. That’s because I still do, too. In fact, about 38 years ago, I did something about it.

First of all, there was absolutely no way my parents, at that point split, could, or more sanely, would, buy what was the most expensive toy set of all time to that point. It was seven and a half feet long.

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So I built my own on the farm, using shiplap lumber that Dad had stored in the shed. I’m sure he had some purpose for it, but I had an aircraft carrier to build.

If I had known better, I would have used plywood. Using roofing nails to hold shiplap together doesn’t work that well – it tends to split the shiplap. Also, it’s not very strong for the angled deck part, which basically hung off the port side of the ship. If only I knew then what I know now about woodworking. I would have made it out of plywood.

I had five of those characters lined up. And the airplane. And the helicopter. But not the aircraft carrier. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

My aircraft carrier was about the same size, roughly eight feet long, with two decks and an island, but it was pretty rough. Lacking items like missile launchers and radar dishes, it had to make due with a couple nails pounded partway into a small block of wood to look like a ship’s turret.

The hull of the ship had two pieces of shiplap at the bow at a 45-degree angle. One side was left open, so I could access the below deck hangar and mechanical spaces. I think I used one of those paint stirring drill thingies which look like a ship’s screw as the propeller.

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It was so big, there was no way it could ever remain in the house at the farm. Instead, it resided in the lean-to on the old shed (the one that had logs for walls in the main portion of the building). It was wedged in beside the riding lawnmower and a bunch of junk. To pull it out of the shed, the whole eight-foot aircraft carrier was perched precariously upon my Radio Flyer wagon.

During the summer at the farm I would drag this monstrosity out and land my G.I. Joe Skystriker on it, their toy version of the F-14 Tomcat. Since this was around the time of Tom Cruise’s Top Gun, I recited every line in the movie, having watched it dozens of times at my friend Colin’s place after school.

 

Along the same lines, more than two decades later, in 2010, I built a working 500-tonne Manitowoc crane, to G.I. Joe scale, out of wood for our son, Spencer. It used a 15-pound dumbbell as a functional counterweight, and had functioning hoist and boom lines driven by ratchets. It took me more than 20 hours to build it, but in the seven years since, I don’t think he played with it a total of 20 hours. Electronics are much more interesting. And like the aircraft carrier, it’s a monstrosity.

Perfect for recreating TopGun. I can still hear the anthem. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

I don’t know what ever happened to my aircraft carrier. I imagine that the folks who bought the farm, literally, looked at this weird looking thing in the shed, broke it up and threw it in the wood stove or on a bonfire.

I kept nearly all my toys from those days (except a few major Star Wars vehicles that disappeared around 2000ish, which I think might have been stolen). Spencer inherited the F-14.

I looked at it the morning I originally typed this, in 2018, and realized it was finally time to let it go. There was nothing left of it. The cockpit and removeable panels are gone. So were the twin removable tail fins. It looks like it was stripped, cannibalized for parts. That’s sort of ironic, because the real F-14 was reportedly a maintenance nightmare for those who struggled to keep it in operating condition.

I told Spencer it was time for us to throw it out. He said, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”

For this evening, at least, it will remain in my office, with my 2015 X-wing nearby.

Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online and a true geek. Some might say nerd. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@pipelineonline.ca

 

 

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