regarding dangly ankh earrings and the 18 year-olds who wore them in 1990

I shoot Big Bang Theory on Monday before I go back to Vancouver to finish out the fourth season of Eureka, so I have scored an entirely unexpected bonus weekend at home with my wife.

Yesterday, we heard that Toy Soldiers was playing on local station KDOC (which was one of the truly great UHF stations here for my entire childhood). Anne told me that she'd never seen it before, so we flipped to channel 56 and began to watch.

We picked it up somewhere toward the middle, in a scene where we're all sitting around in our underwear at night.

"Why are you in your underwear?" Anne asked.

"Because that's what dudes do," I said.

She frowned for a moment, thinking, and then said, "how long did it take you to choreograph the upcoming sword fight?"

"Not long at all," I said. "Turns out it was a class feature."

She gave me a blank look.

"D&D reference."

She nodded, patiently, and turned her attention back to the movie.

I don't remember the exact line, but in the theatrical version, I say something like, "We should get a fucking machine gun, Billy. Wid a machine gun, we could shred dees muddafuckas!"

FUN FACT: Dan Petrie, the director, asked me to do some kind of New York accent for the movie. I was only 18, and didn't think to actually study up on a specific one, so I just did what sounded right in my head, and asked Dan to ensure that I never sounded "like Corey Feldman in Lost Boys." Dan has always said that he thought it sounded fine, but I'm not so sure. I trust and respect him, though, so I'm willing to accept that I hear (and see) this movie through a lens of self-consciousness that exists only in my mind.

The version we were watching, though, was the TV edit, so I actually say something like, "We should get a [jarring edit] machine gun, Billy! Wid a machine gun, we could [jarring edit] these money finders!"

Because, you know, that's how rebel dudes in bording schools talk to each other.

"Hey, what's up, money finder?"

"Oh, you know, just flipping around."

"Did you see those girls from Delta house last night? They were flipping hot!"

"Yeah, I totally flipped that girl Gina. Flipped her [jarring edit] yeah!"

"You lucky bad man! Well, see you later, money finder. I'm going to go get some ponies and get flipped up."

I've often thought that the TV edits of movies are pretty silly. At the End of Stand By Me, Ace says, "You going to kill us all?" Gordie replies, "Just you, Ace [jarring edit] you cheap dimestore hood." OHHH BURN! You can see that Ace is so horrified by what a mother flipping bad man Gordie is, he has no choice but to back down.

Anyway, we had a really good time watching the rest of the movie, Anne just enjoying the 1990 time capsule, me watching 18 year-old me and his painful fashion choices though the spread fingers of a facepalm.

Speaking of facepalm, I paused the movie right after Joey died (SPOILER ALERT – he couldn't handle a flipping machine gun, and didn't shred a single monkeyflapper) so I could share this with the world:


Though I give myself a lot of shit for things like my accent, the dangly ankh earring, and the endless scenes of underwear-clad dudes who were totally not gay, I should point out, and make very clear, that I like Toy Soldiers a lot. Even though it's incredibly dated, I'm proud to be part of it. I had a great time working on it, made some good friends during production, and gained several levels in acting and being an adult while we were on location.

Anne and I had a surprisingly good time watching it, and it seemed like every scene prompted a memory that I hadn't thought of in years. I had so much fun recalling them, I'm considering making my own commentary track as an mp3 and selling it at Lulu for a few bucks. You know, in all my vast amounts of free time.

If you want to watch Toy Soldiers in all its non-TV-edited glory, you can stream it from Netflix, or you could always buy the DVD … though I think it really needs to be viewed on VHS for maximum authenticity.

106 thoughts on “regarding dangly ankh earrings and the 18 year-olds who wore them in 1990”

  1. I think we'd also want to have the whites blow out a little bit, and get some kind of audio filter to hum in relation to how much white there was on the screen. It would also be awesome if you could randomly have tracking static roll across the screen.

  2. Toy Soldiers is one of the movies we have down in our lunch room at work, I’m going to pop it in next time I’m in. Haven’t seen it on in at least a couple months. I’ll probably be one of the few people watching it on VHS as our tv has a VHS built into it, lol.

  3. ah yes, Toy Soldiers…I had the movie poster (that I bought at a garage sale) but sadly 13 yr old me was never allowed go to the theaters to watch it and I was too embarrassed to rent and watch something that “racey” with my ubber conservative parents. Needless to say – the same went for the made-for-cable movie “The Last Prositute” around the same time. Good thing for me “December” wasn’t that far after, which was much more approved by my parents. Seeing as I’m now 32, I think it’s high time I finally watched the movie that will finally make the young girl in me happy.

  4. Toy Soldiers is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and yes, I own the DVD.
    I’d love to have you record a commentary for the film, especially if you get Sean Astin on board, too.
    Billy and Joey together again! Now that would really be a blast from the past.

  5. Wow, I am moved to post something here! I simply can’t not comment.
    The thing I always love about reading this blog is the absolute AGONY of reading it, sometimes. This post (the 90s feel, the DnD comments that I instantly understood, OH the ankh wearing that all us gothy, geeky kids did, the “Yay, I’m home with my family”, everything about it) and THAT PICTURE sums it up for me in one glorious, cringe-worthy moment. This post epitomises why I keep coming back to your blog over and over and over again.
    Damn you for being my age!
    Damn you for being awesome and interesting!
    /me shakes fist menacingly at teh internets

  6. I really loved Toy Soldiers! I did own in on VHS until the VCR ate it a few years ago. I finally tracked down a copy of it on DVD, and even mentioned it in an (unpublished) book I’ve written.
    Joey was definitely one of my favourite parts of the movie. Hmm, now I want to watch it again, off to the DVD shelves…

  7. I have never seen that movie, except for its trailer. I need to look it up. I agree, must be seen on VHS. Just as the Walkman was recently discontinued, the VHS tape is soon to follow, I bet. Oh the days of be kind and rewind…do they even call them video stores anymore?
    Stand By Me…that will always be one of my all time favorite movies….ever.

  8. I had my Ankh on a necklace because I was scared of having my ears pierced. I had it custom-made but the jeweller that did it apparently assumed that I didn’t have a lot of money and also got the design slightly wrong.

  9. So “Money Finders” wasn’t some bizarre New York anti-semitism?
    Somehow the TV version makes even less sense to me now.

  10. I might have Toy Soldiers on VHS – I think the tape is in a box in my old room back home. I’ve watched it dozens of times with my brother, it was one of our favourite movies back then. Illegaly copied off a rented VHS, on a 240 min tape, and followed by Encino Man…

  11. It’s ok…lots of us did that…it was 1990…and we were 18.
    The thing is, I carried that on…up to 4 earrings in the left ear, mohawk and became the DJ of the local hardcore show, the Skank Pit on 90FM WWSP.
    Then the ear became infected, I took out the earrings and three of the four piercings closed.
    College came to an end, the hair grew back and now no one can believe that I walked around with a mowhawk and piercings.
    Now I walk around yelling at the kids, telling them to pull up their pants, stop skateboarding, and that they don’t have it as rough as we did when they were growing up (walking to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill…BOTH WAYS!!!!)
    Such is the circle of life.

  12. I just wanted to share that the one and only time I skipped class in HS was when my friends and I snuck out in the middle of the day to go see Toy Soldiers. And I cried when Joey died, despite the earring.

  13. Holy crap… *totally* forgot about that movie (and even more *totally* forgot that you and Sean Astin were in it). Good film. Dated, yes, but a good film. It reminded me of Red Dawn in many ways, but not so much that it felt hackneyed.

  14. Wil, I guarantee that if you make a Toy Soldiers commentary, you will make many people very, very, very happy. Just sayin’.

  15. I will always remember the TV edit of 1991’s Michael J Fox and James Woods epic “The Hard Way.” Michael’s heartfelt cursing of James, “You slug in a ditch!” had such a ring of truth to it…

  16. While most TV edits are atrocious. Without them, we wouldn’t have classic lines like Die Hard 2’s “Yippee Ki-Yay, Mr. Falcon.” or Snakes on a Plane’s unfathomable “I have had it with these monkey-fightin’ snakes on this monday-to-friday plane.”
    I really want to see some monkey-fightin’ snakes…

  17. Wil, you KNOW a commentary for ANY of your movies would sell like hotcakes. I’m still waiting for your Stand By Me commentary.
    Also, I lovelovelove the fake “tv edits” version of Hot Fuzz. “PEAS AND RICE!”

  18. What was it about the 80s the screamed Egypt and European Heraldry to fashion/jewelery designers? I think, much like in the movie “Fast Forward” we were too far from the fahsion mainstream fort he ankhs and Neferteri heads to get much shelf space. But I had bejeweled brooches, pins (I don’t know why there is a difference) and pendants that looked like English door knockers, german sheilds and crests.
    I see a little of the Euro coming back in the maximism design trend on tshirts and CD covers. Ah.. circle of life indeed.

  19. I watched this about 5 years ago, and my (now ex) boyfriend ws giving me shit about it/calling it names/etc, but I hadn’t actually seen it. I really liked it.

  20. It is not streaming on netflix…. but it has come to my attention that Enemy Mine is. By the by, my sister and I watched Toy Soldiers about 500 times when we were kids, that and Monster Squad were a big part of our childhood memories.

  21. True Secret: I still refer to doing the dishes as “pots and pans” because of Toy Soldiers. I watched this movie all the time as a kid. Further True Fact: 13 year old me rarely watched the movie past Joey’s death. (What’s the point, after all, her favorite part of the movie is no longer on the screen.) 23+ year old me watched the movie to its end because it’s actually quite an enjoyable film and the other actors provide solid performances until the end.
    I… might just have to dig this out of my movie bin and watch it today. Perhaps a Toy Soldiers/December (What a great film) double feature. Man, I <3 the early ’90s.
    P.S. I always admired the whole “move the entire office into the quad” thing. Man, that was the ace prank in my book.

  22. I have to admit, I’ve never managed to sit all the way through Toy Soldiers. Maybe just because I’ve always seen it on TV and used it as a channel surfing alternate. Lately my kid’s been into Flubber though, which I never knew you were in. I guess you’ve been playing bad guys for a while now.

  23. I think the worst [jarring edit] example I can think of was watching Beverly Hills Cop, on BBC TV in the UK, in the mid 80s, where Eddie Murphy was calling everyone a Melon Farmer. Who knew there were so many fruit growers in California?

  24. I love these movies. Of course the angsty teen wearing the ankh earring is capable of taking out a terrorist and stealing his assault weapon. He’s powered by angst and the hated for his father!

  25. I totally have that movie on VHS! (and I know where it is) Perhaps after I finish rewatching the VHS of Flight of the Navigator that should be next!

  26. Toy Soldiers is one of the great teen action movies of the 80s and 90s. I love this one especially for the fact that there’s no unnecesary love story in it. 😀

  27. I bought Toy Story last year because I like you, and you were in it, and I really enjoyed it. It immediately fell into my “80s films I love”-filter even though it’s from 1990.
    I may or may not have shed a tear at Joey’s death, because I’m emotional like that, but may or may not also have pointed and laughed a bit at the ear ring. I shall treasure that pic of you pointing and facepalming for quite a while.
    Thanks for doing a post about it. That film wormed its way into my heart quite sneakily, so it’s nice to see it get some recognition.
    BTW, that spanking scene? (I’m leaving that question open).

  28. I own that movie on VHS and DVD. I love watching it! I never realized the awesome ear ring you had on. I am so jealous that you had that!! It doesn’t deserve a facepalm!!

  29. When I saw this title in my RSS feed, I thought for one terrifyingly horrible, flash-back-inducing second you were somehow talking about me. Then I read your post.
    I’ll see your *facepalm* and raise you an ankh that was about 3x bigger with a *cringe*.

  30. Oh sweet baby Jesus…talk about a film fave flashback. It was only when I was watching a TV version recently (which I can only assume was highly edited) that I realized that what had long ago seemed like a brilliant remote control plane scheme was perhaps a smidgen idyllic.

  31. That’s pretty funny.
    Almost the exact point that I turned it on too.
    I watched it for a couple of minutes but I think I saw about half of it on TV before.
    I hate to ask this question but who is the one actor in the scene with you that was also in Adventures in Baby Sitting?
    I only say that because those are the only two movies I remember seeing him in (just what an actor wants to hear right?)
    I am guessing he is one of those guys that looks 10 years younger than he actually is…

  32. I think one of the most surreal moments in my TV watching history was seeing an edited version of Glenngary Glen Ross. Profanity was such an integral part of the rhythm of the dialog, I was amazed that someone thought the movie would even be watchable without it.
    I must admit that when I saw the title of the post, I thought you were referring to Sandman comic fans

  33. That was Keith Coogan. He was in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead as well and he was the voice of young Tod in The Fox and the Hound (the original). He popped up on a lot of TV series cameos as well. One of those – I know that face people. As for age, he was 21 when the movie was release, so not too much of a baby face.
    Yes, I will go back to my little fan girl hole and hide now. ; )

  34. That’s very strange. I’m in New York, and my friends and I watched it streaming a few months ago, but I just checked and it’s now “disc only.”

  35. Wil I feel kind of bad now. I own a pair of big, pewter dangly ankh earrings. I never wear them, but it’s bad enough I own a pair. I was going to dress as Wesley Crusher for a local comic shop/art gallery’s halloween event for their 1980’s theme….but man if this movie was 80’s…I’d do it.

  36. Aw dude, I loved that film so much. I cried when yous gots killed! And what squealing teenage girl doesn’t like to watch a room full of hot blokes sit around in their underwear and be all manly?
    Dad and I just watched it again last April when I went back to ze Fazerland to see him. It was the first video I bought, back in 1993 or 4, with me pocket money scraped together… set me back 40 Marks back then… that was about two months worth of allowance! The tape is ancient and quite deteriorated, but it was awesome! I can’t bring myself to throw it out. Plus, it’s been given a new life, with the VHS nostalgia posted above.

  37. When my brother and I were teens it seemed like we were the only one’s who’s parents couldn’t afford to buy movies on VHS or a subscription to HBO. To make up for that, every time HBO would have a free preview weekend my Mom would bring us home a pack of 3 blank VCR tapes and we would record 3 movies on each tape and watch them again and again. We actually watched Toy Soldiers til the tape wore out and broke. That was mandatory viewing late at night when any of our friends would stay over (Mom & Dad weren’t crazy about the language in it). Thanks for being part of so many fun adolescent memories!

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