Kilbirnie School

Where the most legendary of games were played out….

The entrance of the school we fondly referred to as the Empire State Building. Many a figure fell from those ornate ledges.

This was the place! 5 years here wasn’t long enough! My last day at Kilbirnie School was full of sadness. WHY I asked! Why take me away from what felt like home? Quite the contrast from my first day there in 1981.. Standing alone at lunchtime in my trademark Jean Jacket observing all the kids playing.

The School was the backdrop but it was the friends I made here. Most notably, my fellow figure connoisseurs who understood what motion pictures 4 figures was all about….

We had others in our games, regulars and those who checked in then out, but the three of us shared the unique viewpoint of our world within the figures. All our figures had histories and stories we would share. This would make individual figures burst with life.. you could see the road they took to get where they were. This would make you want to play with that figure even more than simply admiring their beauty.

We would choose our favorite figure for the days gameplay. It was generally one you owned, loved the most or purchased recently. This would be your character completely. You would not take control of another friends figure and character. Unassigned figures were controlled by everybody, though generally by the company they kept. In other words, if we were playing GI Joe and I was controlling my beloved Cobra Officer, it would be only natural for me to try and muscle in on the unassigned Cobra Soldier. This became one of the pillars and unspoken rules of our motion pictures.

The school had both wonderful and infamous locations worthy of legend. There was the skeleton hiding under the school, faintly visible through a gated opening. The overgrown section at the front of the school which became “The Graveyard”. The Fort, when perched on it’s highest level, prophets could preach to the masses and civil unrest could be initiated. Most famously of course, was the giant tree on the fence line of the back field. We would climb it’s branches and if you made it to the top there was a wonderful opening that was both private and heavenly. It was here we had a meeting which we discussed where we came from at birth and from what part of our mother’s anatomy we popped out of. Not as fun as playing with figures! Cancel the meeting!

Of course, there was also the dangerous locations where regretful bullying took place. The back of the school and the top field come to mind. I was lured by a deal with a notorious kid and his crew who wanted to swap a Lando Skiff Guard (I was desperate for the mask) for one of my Cloud Car Pilot double ups. The deal went down without a hitch, but days later, I was ordered back to the meeting spot as they demanded an exchange. I had to produce first, so I did. When they produced my Cloud car pilot he was headless. I was in tears at the deceit but at least they were decent enough to supply me with the broken head which was promptly glued on.

“Good for figures” was a phrase we penned when location scouting for games around the school. The mindset was to see the location from the figures point of view and scale. We had the Empire State building, the Jaws ocean, waterslides, graveyards and the most famous of all… the tree stumps.

Myself, Matthew & Thomas.. We knew how to do it!

There was 3 stumps at the rear of the tennis court above the sitting steps. Monstrous things left over from once giant trees. The stumps were 1 to 1.5 meters in height and the center stump was by far the most popular. The wood had grooves, caves and alcoves beyond belief. Good For Figures!! Dangerous ledges and cliffs for dangling figures. It had a prison cell and a base at the summit (which we had to climb up to reach) for the top figures in charge of that particular game. Oh how I wish I had a photo or footage of this stump! They removed this one and another some years ago and only left the least popular one, which was used as a landing pad for ships or a volcanic pit.

The last remaining tree stump…

The time I was there (1981 – 1986) saw us go through The Empire Strikes Back & Jedi figures, Masters of the Universe, The DC Super Powers, MASK, Transformers, Zoids, Playmobil Playset’s and the most legendary of all…the first series of GI Joes!

Matthew & Tom, though the same age as me, stayed an extra year for reasons that still bemuse. This led them to experience the arrival of series 6 & 7 of the GI Joes in 1987 at Kilbirnie School. They have told me since, how exciting a revolution it was and the games they played at Kilbirnie School. I had gone to another school and experienced these GI Joes somewhat alone. Man, I should have been there!

Matt & Myself returned to Kilbirnie School to find some ghosts.

Games, situations and Kilbirnie School will be appearing in my blogs quite often as it’s so much a part of this whole experience.

Do keep an eye out…!

It was the way you played with the figures

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