Some toy makers these days work in industrial design, others like Morgan Phillips aka The Sucklord, are true blooded artists, refusing to sell out to the corporate world, pushing street level bootlegging culture to next levels. The Sucklord first made his mark on the world with the infamous Star Wars Breakbeat CD in 1998– a mix made up completely with uncleared Star Wars samples and hip-hop breakbeats. He now spends time between his NYC Chinatown studio working on revamping old toys, manufacturing beats on demand, and living the life of a Star Wars gangster at large.
“My first toy, the SUCKLORD 66, was a big “Fuck You” figure to the whole toy world. It was a shabby piece of purposeful junk, but people liked it. Now I’m almost thirty figures deep in this â€œDo It Yourselfâ€ thing.”
Format: Every good superhero/villain has his origins. Can you tell us the origins of the Sucklord?
Morgan Phillips: He evolved from a Boba Fett impersonator into something else. He started
out as a device to promote the Star Wars Breakbeat concept and over the years as SUCKADELIC became more diversified and evil, he became a repository of all the fantasies that were finding their way into the Suck-language. His current incarnation is that of a Sith Lord gangster playboy running a bootleg toy company out of a Chinatown Sweat shop. His
actual identity remains quite mysterious and it is rumored that several people have actually acted as the Sucklord over the years. He’s about to face a threat from his onetime employee and now rival, VECTAR the INTOLERABLE. You can see a glimpse of this conflict in the SUCKLORD 600 Commercials. The actual story of this war will play out on the ORIGINAL
VILLAIN NETWORK video site starting in the fall. Itâ€™s going to be epic.
Format: It says on your site that you do toy repairs. What kind of problems do people come to you for? What has been the most challenging â€œtoy operationâ€ youâ€™ve conducted?
Morgan Phillips: Nobody can afford me. Most people want me to make prototypes of their
toys without any knowledge of what goes into it. When I quote the price, they crumble. I’m gonna stop offering services soon. I’m tired of fielding scrub emails.
Format: What kind of influence do you feel hip-hop has made on the vinyl toy scene?
Morgan Phillips: Stupid and predictable ones. It almost seems like a refuge for the creatively insecure. Just take your lame character that you know is weak, put him in a B-Boy stance and add a turntable and boombox to “make it cool.” It’s lame and unimaginative. Oh wait, that’s what I did…
Format: Can you explain your â€œbootleggingâ€ process?
Morgan Phillips: Yeah. For almost all of the toys I am using parts of toys that already exist. To put it in hip-hop terms, I am “sampling” other toys and remixing them into something new. As with hip-hop nerds, toy nerds like to try and figure out what my samples are; therefore, I like to use obscure bits to fuck with people’s heads.
Format: Why did you start making your own figures?
Morgan Phillips: No one else would do it for me. I was trying to get my toy game on as early as 1990, but there were no companies then. When the scene started happening in the later 90s and 2000s, none of the big guys would let me play. I got no offers to produce or finance my ideas. That’s when I became a Supervillain. I was mad and forced to do it alone. My first one,the SUCKLORD 66, was a big “Fuck You” figure to the whole toy world. It was a shabby piece of purposeful junk, but people liked it. Now I’m almost thirty figures deep in this â€œDo It Yourselfâ€ thing. Now that I have had the experience of doing a “real” vinyl toy, I think I like the homemade stuff better. So much more freedom; I can get my ideas out so much faster.
Format: How big is your Star Wars collection?
Morgan Phillips: My vintage collection is almost complete save a few later rarities, like
EV-9D9 and the A-wing. As far as the modern stuff, it’s not as big as you may think. I’m in no way a completist– you have to be crazy to try and get it all. I just have select things that I like: Bounty Hunters and SithLords, some droids and aliens. I have all kinds of weird shit not related to Star Wars. I just get what I like; I don’t care where it comes from. I’m really into vintage Micronauts. I own almost no vinyl toys.
Format: Congrats on being part of the Christies art auction! How did that happen?
Morgan Phillips: Just one of those random things where the guy doing the auction saw my
Mary Paper figure in Kid Robot. He looked me up and saw what I do. He came to visit, we hit it off, and that was that. He just came out of the blue.
Format: Can you tell us about the three new figures you just released? Iâ€™m a fan of
abstract platforms, so I really like the Necromancer Peg. Whatâ€™s his story?
Morgan Phillips: This is the first time I released updates to all of my platforms, which is
up to three now. The Afrodisiac is one of the basic bootlegs, in the same series as the GAY EMPIRE figure. They just started making Day-Glo powders for the casting resins I use. I’m always looking for new colors and I love stoner blacklight imagery, so that one was a natural choice. It’s Just an oola figure with an afro I hacked from the old Fisher-Price Adventure
People Newscaster lady. She came with the TV van set.
The SUCKLORD 669 is part of the Vinyl “Self Bootlegging” series. The SUCKLORD 600 continues to sell, but I made a lot of them, so these “artist do-overs” are a way to keep that toy fresh and constantly in people’s sight. What I’m doing now is revisiting some of my classic characters like the GAY EMPIRE, and doing them as a Vinyl. I’m going to keep doing those until all the SUCKLORD 600s are gone.
The last one is a New SUCKPEG, the Necromancer. The Suckpeg is kind of a response to all the mini platform toys that have been sprouting up for a long time now. Kubricks, Dunnys, all that stuff. I wanted to go further than those in making my mini-figure even more reductive. You can’t get more simple than a head on a stick. Plus I grew up on the Fisher-Price
LITTLE PEOPLE. I wanted to bring those back and get as Old School as possible. I was playing with those things as far back as 1972. For me it’s fun and kind of a victory that something I loved so much when I was a baby is still relevant to my adult career. I’m a big proponent of never growing up.
As far as the Necromancer character, he is an immigrant from another project I was involved in, The LORDS of the RHYMES. This was a Tolkien Based Hobbit hip-hop group I was involved in for a few years, from like 2003 to 2005. I played all the evil characters in the stage show. My best costume was the SAURON character. He was seven feet tall (with the help of
carpenter stilts) and had a big black hood and a glowing eye. It was a great costume. But the band stopped playing and I was still invested in the costume and the character, so he found his way into the Suckadelic mythology as the Necromancer, a hooded evil doer who is constantly cock blocking the Sucklord. He came out first as a regular bootleg and now he’s a peg. We will see him in some villain videos soon as well. That’s what I do. Once I appropriate something, I like to keep them around and let them evolve into something beyond what they were in the beginning.
Format: Were there any designs that didnâ€™t make the cut?
Morgan Phillips: No, not really. Most of my toy ideas arrive fully formed, and then they
get backlogged. I have about twenty-five peg ideas and ten more regular bootlegs that are waiting to get made. Maybe I should learn to edit myself, but fuck it. So far everything I made sold out eventually, so I must be doing something right.
Format: So the SDCC is coming up really soon; do you have anything special prepared?
Morgan Phillips: I am working with Mimoco these days, both as a correspondent for their
Mimozine and as a collaborator for a secret villain themed Mimobot that is in it’s early stages, so I will be rolling with them. There will be a limited edition villain Vimobot that will be available. I will also have my new shit on view at the DKE booth. Other than that I will be just
hanging out, wheeling and dealing, and building with other jerks “in the Industry.” And drinking.