With geek action figure, dweebs become heroes

Pop Culture

July 25, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

Computer geeks can no longer be shoved into a locker and left to plead hopelessly through sixth period. They hold the keys. They are the masters of the deadly arts of the Internet. And often, they can buy you and sell you, and even create the Web site for your auction.

In fact, they're becoming altogether hip.

The revolution may not have been televised - though it has gotten some screen time, in the new film Napoleon Dynamite - but geek chic is on the rise.

And now the once-derided have their unofficial poster boy: GeekMan.

A new action figure available online and in a few local toy stores, GeekMan is here to save the data with his pencil-thin arms, overbite and Dan Dare hairdo.

When asked what his hero's superpowers are, Kris Schantz, founder of Happy Worker toys and creator of GeekMan, listed "opposite-sex repulsion, analytical reasoning, the ability to create technical acronyms and less-than-ideal personal hygiene."

GeekMan is a decidedly old-school nerd, with pocket protector and impossibly thick-rimmed glasses. Yet there's a whiff of sex appeal, with steely blue eyes and the tantalizing hint of an alter ego (the glasses are removable). There is also a magnetized calculator that is irresistibly drawn to his belt.

"Our first design was a hipper geek," says Schantz, who thinks of himself as an old-style geek. "We sent it out to geeks to test it and they wanted the retro style."

There's a devil-may-care insouciance about this GeekMan. Perhaps it comes from wearing jeans and sneakers on the job while the rest of the wage slaves are clapped into suits and ties. He scoffs at you, you and your "critical error" message. You need him. And he needs you - to get out of the way so he can fix your mess while G.I. Joe and Ken stand by helplessly.

"He'd never say he's better," Schantz says, "but he thinks he's smarter. He's cooler - or he thinks he's cooler."

Far from ridiculing the geek set, Schantz says he hopes the toy will encourage people to celebrate their inner dweeb: "We hope that he lets people laugh at themselves. He's for geeks and their friends."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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