My involvement with the hobby started the Christmas GI Joe was first introduced. I had to wait until Christmas Day to see what he actually looked like because I had only seen photos of him in the Sears Christmas catalog. He instantly became my favorite toy, and I kept my Joes and Jeep until I left home for college. I never saw them again... and frankly never had an interest in the small action figures.
One day I was in Barnes And Noble when I noticed a display of boxes with "Master Collector" on them. I couldn't believe they brought my friend back! I bought the Marine- he looked just like the Joe I got that Christmas Day so long ago. Then Joes started showing up at other stores, and before I knew it, I was playing again! I was amazed at how much better the new ones were. I loved to buy 21st Century carded uniforms to upgrade the Joes (I had never heard the term "kitbashing" at that time). My very first on-line transaction was an order from Cotswold to buy replacement Jeep parts for one that I picked up in a thrift store.
Things are so much better than they were back then! Now we even had GI Jane- I got the paratrooper and the helicopter pilot (I upgraded her helmet with the one from the GI Joe Door Gunner), and made her the official pilot of my 21st Century OH-6. Cy Girl AJ Macleod was the very first figure I pre-ordered (from Small Blue Planet, I believe).
Female figures have added a whole new dimension to my hobby. I still buy male figures, but I really love to create female characters. For some reason I was never able to create female characters in any of the writing classes I took in college. Female action figures changed that for me, I have no idea why, but I'm really glad they did.
My hobby has coalesced around my "sagas" which sort of ties all of my hobby interests together: the figures, some rudimentary set building, vehicles, writing and photography. My interest is modern era figures, but I still buy some WWII stuff- some of it is just too cool to pass up!
Eventually I found my way to OSW and MWD (and a smaller community called Figurevore). All of those sites have been through many changes and crises. Hopefully OSW will survive, but I hope this new, fresh site continues to thrive regardless.