Every era needs a hero. Lucky for us, Dan Polydoris has provided plenty of them for our particularly bleak times. There’s his Crying in the Shower action figure. His Me Eating an Entire Block of Cheese in One Sitting action figure. His Me Lying Awake Thinking of Some Shit I Said 4 Years Ago action figure. And maybe most apropos, his Me Giving Up and Walking Into the Ocean with All of My Clothes On action figure. “I mean, seriously just fuck it all…,” the packaging declares, as well as “Contents: The sweet release of death.”
The latter certainly resonates. “I wish I could find someone capable of fixing what’s broken inside of me that makes this one so fucking hilarious to me,” a Facebook comment reads beneath the announcement that the Me Giving Up and Walking Into the Ocean with All of My Clothes On action figure was returning to Poyldoris’ online store, Death by Toys (“Having a major case of the fuckits today so I put a handful of these in the store. Stay shitty America ”).
Poyldoris has offered it off and on since first conceiving of it back in 2019 when his mom was dying of cancer and he was sitting in the hospital for the “thousandth time,” very much thinking about giving up and walking into the ocean with all of his clothes on. “I didn’t actually do it, so that’s good,” Polydoris tells me.
He did, however, leave his job as a copywriter to run Death by Toys, where he produces small batches of handmade action figures — a few dozen or so at a time. (A few of his other offerings: Your Cat Ignoring You Because You’re a Piece of Shit, Batman’s Parents and Angry Little League Dad.) But anytime he brings back Me Giving Up and Walking Into the Ocean with All of My Clothes On — as he did earlier this summer — it sells out faster than anything else. “Celebrate giving up and walking into the ocean with this action figure,” reads the product description. “He is made from repurposed parts, and features a maroon jacket and beige pants.” (Earlier versions had a green jacket and gray pants, as well as a light blue jacket; at one point, he also made a female version. They arrive with an “official Death Certificate of authenticity.”)
“I still cannot believe how much people respond to this piece,” Polydoris says. Yet, when he looks at everything his loved ones have been through the past few years, it becomes less surprising. “Everybody has had some form of a shitshow, so even the most lighthearted of us can relate in some way,” he continues.
As for the subtext of the Me Giving Up and Walking Into the Ocean with All of My Clothes On action figure, he says, “He’s a champion for all of us and how we feel at times, but I don’t recommend actually giving up and walking into the ocean. I’m cynical and hate so much about people, but even I find something I love — toys — and try to power through the fuckery we live in.”
Speaking of which, we may soon have yet another addition to Polydoris’ brigade of sad-sack heroes — one so powerful, he could usurp Me Giving Up and Walking Into the Ocean with All of My Clothes On. “I made a dude similar to the ocean guy who was leaving a party because he shit his pants,” Polydoris tells me. “I rarely make stuff that makes me laugh, but I enjoyed that. I’ll definitely do a run of them sometime.”