I wasn't as close to my grandma on my mom's side as I was the one on my dad's side, but she gave me what was probably the best birthday present a boy could ever want in 1975. Yes, that's the Six Million Dollar Man action figure. Do you remember this fine piece of action figure technology? You could look through a viewfinder in the back of Steve Austin's head so you could get the POV from his bionic eye (doodoodoodoodoo...). You could roll up the plastic skin on his bionic arm to reveal removable modules. If you turned his head and pressed the lever in his back, his arm would lift a plastic engine block to demonstrate his superior strength. This toy gave me hours and hours and hours of fun when I was 11. I never got any of the other figures or outfits or accessories, but this one was plenty.
My stepfather would never allow me to play with action figures without merciless comments about how effeminate it was for a boy to play with dolls. Never mind that every kid in the neighborhood had multiple GI Joes and Mego superheroes. The same grandma bought me a Mego Superman for Christmas in 1973. It was funny because when the rest of my third grade classmates where playing with their 12" GI Joes in the classroom, I had my 8" Mego Superman. He naturally became Superboy because of the relative sizes. We had a two-shelf cross-section submarine in our classroom, which was the setting of many of our adventures. Superboy was the one figure who could get to the surface without a wetsuit.
Whenever we visited my grandmother, I knew I was safe from ridicule. My stepfather wouldn't dare say a word in front of her when she was the one who bought me the toys.
My grandma would have been 88 yesterday, and if she were here today, I would thank her all over again for some of my favorite toys.