Plastic Idols

De La Soul. Run DMC. The Beastie Boys. Daft Punk. Green Day. Korn. From rap to rock and everything in between, there’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 it’s just me, but music and toys are like oil and water – there’s just no way the two sit comfortably together,

Ok, there is an exception – namely the Gorillaz – but this was a band invented by an artist. And Jamie Hewlett is a god in my eyes. Hewligan’s Haircut is one of my favorite comic strips of all time. Add to that Tank Girl (ignore the movie), and there’s no doubting he’s a divine presence. But I digress; the Gorillaz toys work because quite simply, they already looked like toys.

Pete Fowler’s Magic Numbers are another good example of how it should be done. I’m not a fan of the band, but I am a fan of Mr. Fowler’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 aren’t too bad. But having never got my head around the appeal of 12” figures, they look like Barbie’s Ken got a few buddies together to form a band. My “boy’s doll” prejudice aside, for me music is about sound, not visuals. Or rather it should be.

These days we’re firmly part of the image-is-everything MTV school of music. Ugly is out. Unless it’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 marketer’s wet dream. We, the public, are buying everything and anything endorsed by our idols – toys being just one aspect.

As mentioned earlier, there are a few music toys that work, but for the most part they don’t. The recent Mad Villain and Biggie releases are firmly in the latter camp. They’re bad caricatures whose designs look like they were knocked out by an old street artist with some charcoal. There’s no art in these toys, but by making them limited they are being sold under that banner, when they’re essentially the equivalent of getting a ropey tour t-shirt.

It all boils down to the purpose of music – beyond making money, of course. Break it down and it’s an aural artform. The rest is smoke and mirrors.
I love Interpol. I love Cash. But I don’t want a toy of them. I want to listen to their music without being disturbed by my neighbor’s screaming kids. Create a toy of “The Man in Black” that can block out invasive sounds and you’ll get my support. Until then, let artists do the art and musicians do the music. You can’t have it all. Well you can, but it’ll most likely suck.

Drunken Master

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