Buff was a wrestler in the late 90s. As I understand the story he faked a disability so he could get the drop on one of his opponents by jumping out of his wheelchair catching the other wrestler by surprise. That’s why Buff’s toy wheelchair has a lever on the back. When pressed it flings the toy Buff into the air. It’s fun once or twice.
One Halloween I was desperate to find a wheelchair using costume for a party in Berkeley. I had already been Luke Martin from “Coming Home.” Clifton Chatterly didn’t seem like a good idea. So, I settled on Buff. By sewing cotton batting into a long sleeve t-shirt I was able to give myself massive, pro wrestler muscles. Wearing the shirt and dyeing my hair black disguised me pretty well. Plus, being Berkeley I wasn’t the only wheelchair user, which is a dead giveaway at Halloween here in Sonoma County.
What draws me to wheelchair and disability toys? On the surface I love to see representations of disability. All during the 50s and 60s I saw few wheelchair users. I loved finding my community in the early 70s. It was people who shared my disability experiences. I think wheelchair toys symbolize some aspect of my membership in the disability community. Even though toys are not supposed to be powerful, these toys are talismans of the magic we’ve been able to harness over the past 40 years. Not only do we have the ADA, but we have each other. We get to see our people out in the world. We get to be proud disabled people. My toys remind me of all that.