De La Soul. Run DMC. The Beastie Boys. Daft Punk. Green Day. Korn. From rap to rock and everything in between, thereâ€™s plenty of visual vinyl for a music fan to pick up to compliment their aural vinyl collections. Some are better than others. And maybe itâ€™s just me, but music and toys are like oil and water â€“ thereâ€™s just no way the two sit comfortably together,
Ok, there is an exception â€“ namely the Gorillaz â€“ but this was a band invented by an artist. And Jamie Hewlett is a god in my eyes. Hewliganâ€™s Haircut is one of my favorite comic strips of all time. Add to that Tank Girl (ignore the movie), and thereâ€™s no doubting heâ€™s a divine presence. But I digress; the Gorillaz toys work because quite simply, they already looked like toys.
Pete Fowlerâ€™s Magic Numbers are another good example of how it should be done. Iâ€™m not a fan of the band, but I am a fan of Mr. Fowlerâ€™s work and the figures look good. Not my cup of tea, but I can kind of see why people would get them.
The Daft Punk and Beastie Boys figures also arenâ€™t too bad. But having never got my head around the appeal of 12â€ figures, they look like Barbieâ€™s Ken got a few buddies together to form a band. My â€œboyâ€™s dollâ€ prejudice aside, for me music is about sound, not visuals. Or rather it should be.
These days weâ€™re firmly part of the image-is-everything MTV school of music. Ugly is out. Unless itâ€™s really ugly, ODB (god rest his soul) being a good example. Shane McGowan is another. Sound and vision now have equal standing in our affections. While a travesty musically, this has created a marketerâ€™s wet dream. We, the public, are buying everything and anything endorsed by our idols â€“ toys being just one aspect.
As mentioned earlier, there are a few music toys that work, but for the most part they donâ€™t. The recent Mad Villain and Biggie releases are firmly in the latter camp. Theyâ€™re bad caricatures whose designs look like they were knocked out by an old street artist with some charcoal. Thereâ€™s no art in these toys, but by making them limited they are being sold under that banner, when theyâ€™re essentially the equivalent of getting a ropey tour t-shirt.
It all boils down to the purpose of music â€“ beyond making money, of course. Break it down and itâ€™s an aural artform. The rest is smoke and mirrors.
I love Interpol. I love Cash. But I donâ€™t want a toy of them. I want to listen to their music without being disturbed by my neighborâ€™s screaming kids. Create a toy of â€œThe Man in Blackâ€ that can block out invasive sounds and youâ€™ll get my support. Until then, let artists do the art and musicians do the music. You canâ€™t have it all. Well you can, but itâ€™ll most likely suck.