Why Trapjaw?

So you’re here. You’re thinking, “well this is interesting/boring/stupid/witty/pedestrian/riveting etc etc etc,” but you’re probably also wondering what the Trapjaw thing is all about.

Well, if you’ve read this post, you’ll understand why I chose the Masters of the Universe theme to colour this corner of cyberspace, but I didn’t quite go into details about why I chose Trapjaw specifically. To be honest, there are a multitude of layers regarding the imagery and symbolism conjured up by this strange, blue-skinned character that appeal to me and are relevant in some way to aspects of myself. I could go into a lot of depth, I suppose, and here’s my Literature degree begging to speak, but I don’t think that a literary essay is necessary here.

“The Menace of Trapjaw!”

Firstly, the most basic connection is that when I was a child, he was a perennial favourite of mine in terms of Masters of the Universe characters.  His position would temporarily be replaced by other characters with whom I’d develop momentary obsessions, such as Beast-Man, Merman, Clawful, Whiplash and Webstor.  As you can see, I was solely interested in the villains of the series.  To me, they were a lot more visually and conceptually interesting than the heroes, who were usually purely human characters such as He Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms and Ram-Man.  They looked normal (well, with their hulk-like muscles and strangely disproportionate leg length, relatively normal) and this didn’t captivate my interest.  The bad guys looked cool; they were true monsters in the visual sense of the word, and this appealed to my young artist’s mind.  Instead of the boring peach-tone human skin, I could use my whole palette of crayon colours to draw these bad boys.

I especially liked ones that were as different from the others as possible.  Most of the figurines were cast from exactly the same mold, meaning that He-Man had exactly the same body as Skeletor, Tri-Klops, Zodac and pretty much every other character, bar some different feet and a “hairy” chest here or there.  Trapjaw, however, had completely unique legs, with armour plating and green, glowing panels (at least that’s what they were in my mind’s eye).  He had a wickedly cool robotic arm with three interchangeable mountable weapons, and of course that moveable and menacing jaw.  And his crimson helmet reminded me a lot, perhaps subconsciously, of my father’s crimson motorcycle helmet that he wore at the time.

Also, Trapjaw seemed to be completely unavailable in Pietermaritzburg, although my neighbour managed to find one, along with almost every other character in the series. I do remember seeing a Trapjaw figurine once in the OK supermarket in the middle of town, but I’d usually only get one of these figurines on my birthday or for Christmas, or some other special occasion, and that time was none of those.  We all know how infinitely more desirable something becomes, especially to a child, when it seems unobtainable…

The image of Trapjaw that was on the back of every MOTU box. It was captioned “Trapjaw – Evil and Armed for Combat”.

Now let’s shift time-frames out of the early 80s and nearer to the present. So why Trapjaw now? What’s relevance does a childhood fascination have for my life as a 30-year-old man? Well, about a decade ago, when I first starting getting into internet forums (the internet was rather late in arriving to South African shores), and I needed to pick a user name, it seemed lame to just call myself “jon1982” or some variant thereof. I racked my brains for something suitable; something short, simple and easy to remember that was also somehow relevant to me personally, and the image of that childhood obsession popped into my mind. I was drumming in a Durban-based punk band called Stanley Anvil at the time, and all of the guys in the band had a great liking for vintage 80s action figures, and this rekindled my own interest in childhood nostalgia. Indeed, when I tried to quit the band (I loved the guys and the music, but the commute from Pietermaritzburg to Durban to rehearse was a killer, both in terms of time and petrol money in my mom’s juice-sucking ‘1969 Beetle), they bribed me to stay with a Trapjaw figurine!

Anyway, this brought the old half-orc, half-robot hybrid to my mind, and I decided that his name would be a suitable handle for my online alter-ego. It seemed that there was more to it than mere nostalgic fondness, though; I had more in common with Trapjaw than I thought. I had been frequently referred to as a “machine” due to my furious and frenetic drumming style – half-man, half-machine, just like Trapjaw. Like his interchangeable weapons on his right hand, I liked to think that I had a small but decent set of skills that I could switch between at will. And, the cherry on top: like Trapjaw, I have a metal lower jaw. Well, not entirely metal. It is still composed of bone, but due to a pretty severe motorcycle accident in which my lower jaw was snapped in two places, I now had two titanium plates permanently affixed to my jawbone (no, they don’t set off airport metal detectors).

So there you have it; the reason for my choice of Trapjaw as an online alter-ego. Feeling enlightened? Good… let’s move on 🙂

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