For Tom Ronca,
Is one of your most precious Xmas memories your stubby fingers helping (or trying to help) lay out the tracks of the family Christmas train set, while a beloved parent or older sibling set it up, prying little people and fences out of your paws to set up a tiny automated transportation nexus that connected the provinces of delight and wonder in a giant circle that was whole, that was Christmas? Me neither. Yet, apparently it’s part of someone’s memories, probably someone who didn’t wake up to find their Christmas gifts had been devoured by spiders, or had to eat a horseshoe crab for Christmas dinner because you lived in an abandoned lighthouse; someone who sleeps well, has a steady job, a spouse and children and never gets in trouble for downloading Asslicula, even though it is something you are researching, for the stories you write, you know, for the internet and that’s important, Dad.
Anyway, apparently the great lines of the Christmas trains extend all the way here to Bangkok, where there is an exhibit of rare and unusual Christmas train sets here at the Siam Paragon, where I go to the gym and download various pieces of important research while writing these informative pieces. It is the sort of recherché and outré exhibit the Paragon seems to specialize in, like displays of golden Chinese torture devices and powered hang gliders. I will not bore you with the many examples in the catalogue that were merely expensive, owned by famous people, or made of bones of extinct animals and jewels. These are the ones I found interesting. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited, so we will just have to make do with the exhibit as I recall it.
The Monster Poops Christmas Express
Based on the popular Revell Monster Poops! series of model kits (featuring a determined, yet sad, anxious and lonely Creature surreptitiously taking a nocturnal dump at Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s door, a surprised Dracula soiling Mina Murray’s nightdress and her balcony, a sad throned Mummy contemplating the sphinx of how to hang the toilet paper roll (over or under), the Werewolf lovingly decorating his favorite fire hydrant, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon just standing in the Black Lagoon looking sheepish), the Monster Poops Christmas Express features the classic creatures each straddling a different car on the train in the posture of relieving themselves as the train itself shoots across a Halloween themed graveyard landscape of tombstones, mausoleums, outhouses, latrines and commodes.
This set has the strange representational conundrum common to themed train sets and old school children’s Halloween costumes: the characters themselves ride the train past tableaux of themselves that light up and make the appropriate noise the creature makes while evacuating (Frankenstein’s Creature bleats with Tolstoyian suffering, Dracula ejaculates something Yiddish sounding something like Count Floyd, the Werewolf yowls, the Mummy makes the same pathetic tongueless phatic he uses for everything and the Creature from the Black Lagoon makes an adorable sound like a baby raccoon on the toilet). The possible psychoanalytic dimensions of monsters riding a train watching their doubles poop remains unexplored outside of the still unpublished Sylvia Plath. It does not help that the train set only plays one song, an unlicensed cover of “Jingle Bell Rock” with the words “Monster Mash” incoherently substituted on the chorus.
Sha Na Na vs. Happy Days: The Final Conflict Christmas Set
Twin “hot rod” trains chase each other through the town and the charred hell hole their rivalry has made it. Notable details include the pathetic chimerical comfort that Mrs. C is offering a disembowled Ralph Malph, who is clearly going to die from his Bowzer inflicted injuries and his communication of this horrified realization back to her; the possibly not coincidental resemblance between Tom Bosley and Slobodan Milosevic and his expression which seems into indicate he always knew this was going to happen; the conflicted Squiggy.
The Mitchell Brothers' XXXmas Express Train Set
Predictable and tasteless interpretation of the Mitchell Brother’s careers in terms of a Christmas train set, Mitchell Brothers’ XXXmas Porno Train makes its prurient turns around Toluca lake with obvious homages to green doors and all the obvious visual puns trains, tunnels and an engine with a likeness to John Holmes with real hair can lend itself to. The designer (if he can be called that) seemed to be torn between as to whether the whole device was to be more of a tribute to sexually explicit films or cocaine and so has devoted equal space to both, the result looking like someone had an “O scale” set, a box of nude Barbie dolls, a case of hand mirrors, fake snow, issues with the breast and a glue gun.
Worst of all, upon close inspection, it is, in fact, simply the Berenstain Bears’ Hanukah Train with garish stickers applied to it.
Our Gang Old Timey Decorative Christmas Train Set: The Little Rascals Assemble the Ancient Pyramids
This “H” scale set is noted for it’s considerable detail and historical accuracy seemingly based upon actual scholarship, with the exception of the presence of the Little Rascals and a their snow capped train.
At top the pyramid itself is Buckwheat in his rightful place, Pharaoh among men, next to a chubby bald shirtless Spanky serving at his side as a competent and cruel administrator. Only nominally a Christmas train set at all, with a great deal of the display given over to the intricate details of worshiping Ra. Supposedly part of The Little Rascals explore the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a rare series of sets much sought after in the Thelemic and Occult communities.