Toy Stories: Kids Around The World and Their Most Prized Possessions


Chiwa – Mchinji, Malawi

  From the website:

Shot over a period of 18 months, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s project Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possesions—their toys. Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, “at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.”

The original post and full gallery here.

Stella – Montecchio, Italy

Stella – Montecchio, Italy

Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand

Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand

Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar

Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar

Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China

Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China

Pavel – Kiev, Ukraine

Pavel – Kiev, Ukraine


Moshi Monsters Part Two: The Quest for Lady Goo Goo

Lady Goo Goo.

A short while ago I blogged about Moshi Monsters, which is a sensation among kids in the UK. I am kind of nerding out on it.  I have always collected toys and such, and dug kids shows, having kids… but after fellow DJ and aging hipster Thriftshop XL turned me on to this trend, I went a little nuts. I found piles of awesome Moshi Monster toys, neglected, unknown by the ignorant local philistines and blissfully priced to sell at Walmart and Target. Freaking pre-holiday SCORE! (dance move)

About Moshi Monsters. It’s a character-driven combination of music, video, toys, and online community. As with most stuff, kids’ cartoons are pretty much twice as cool in the UK. Stylish, international and funky, Hip-Hop, pop, Bollywood, house, metal- the surreal, hyper-intense and surprisingly musical Moshi Monsters do it all. (Did I just hear Jack Black? Dan Akroyd?) My kids LOVE the music, and the characters. We’re not as into the community stuff, but my daughter keeps asking about it. Maybe when she’s a little older.

Blingo The Fox fan art by Momogirl.

Yesterday they released a new track, and music video by a character called Blingo The Fox. He’s a blinged out rapper. He’s cool. With DJ Quack on the Ducks! (ie “on the decks,” ie DJing. Would American kids have been trusted to get that?)

Cool. So of course, his $2 Moshling figure is also going for like $20 online. It’s ultra rare, it seems. Stella, left watching a Moshi music video online, soon clicked on a related video link and ended up watching this nerd-tastic unboxing video.

As you can tell, the ‘good’ figures (often those based on pop stars or places/landmarks) are in blind boxes and get snatched up by vendors and collectors, and resold at inflated prices. They aren’t even available in regular shops in the states, it seems. At least not around here. In England, a kid stands a fighting chance of scoring Lady Goo Goo, Dustbin Beaver, or Blingo. Observe.

For some reason these are the first unboxing videos I have ever seen that I actually enjoyed. This one is my favorite one I think. It has special effects and it features a Lady Goo Goo figure, lent by the video’s producer, as a guest star.

That’s right- these Lady Goo Goo figures are so rare, they make appearances. They get opened and resold, and they sell out in a flash.  Goo is a baby version of Lady Gaga who had a hit single with the Moshi Dance. In a rare lapse of coolness, Lady Gaga sued Brain Candy over this. Can’t we all get along?

Stella wants a Goo, badly. There are also plushies available I hear. The quest continues. We WILL find Lady Goo Goo!


Moshi Moshi Moshi Monster Monster

Fellow dad Thriftshop XL clued me in to Moshi Monsters this morning.

I’m actually looking after a houseful of em right now and they’re jumping up and down in the living watching a video compilation of Moshi Monster videos on the media player. My 4yo daughter was introduced to this phenomena when my friends stayed over with their 8yo daughter. Mine was hooked and, after checking it out, we let her play it. You can pay to be a member or just sign up for the free stuff (I ain’t payin’) There’s plenty to do in there. It’s really child-friendly and great to sit down with your kids and solve puzzles, do up your house, collect pets, etc. Be warned though, there is a social element to it and you can contact (or be contacted by) other folks who can look at your profile (I like cookies, fave colour: Red, etc) other than that it’s a very appealing place. We let her play, supervised, 2 to 3 times a week for up to an hour. When I have time, I log in and do some of the games to earn ‘money’ so’s she can buy new stuff for her house. The stores here are FULL of Moshi Monster merch, from Jigsaws to backbacks and figures, right through to sticker albums, paperback books and annuals. There is a very catchy album called Music Rox from which some of the videos you have seen are taken. Moshi Monsters is the Brainchild of a British Tech startup called Mind Candy and has been running in the UK for a few years. Unlike a lot of these types of things for kids, they have had no negative publicity regarding online safety and seem pretty clued-up as to what makes a safe, fun environment for kids (and their keepers) to play.

Apparently half the kids in England are playing this game. Brits are hip. So it’s an online game, but there are also a bunch of these surreal children’s videos on youtube, along with a bunch of requisite Youtube trend obsession videos. I like the videos, but they are pretty intense.

While the vids seem specifically designed to shorten children’s attention spans,  Moshi Monsters creators do claim the game and site are educational. I didn’t play the actual games themselves, but they are supposedly “a series of fun puzzles that test everything from vocabulary and arithmetic to logic and spatial skills.” That said, I can’t imagine what exactly the videos are supposed to be teaching. Kind of fun and cool though! Woot woot! (pumps fist) There’s also a social networking component, which is supposed to be safe and monitored, but yeah- not yet, thanks.

Just when I thought I knew what was going on, they started making fun of Justin Bieber.

And paying tribute to Lady Gaga.

And then, while I personally find the one below amusing, I have to wonder what my 4-year old would take away from it. I prefer the funky un-ironic cuteness to the Happy tree Friends-esque cynical attempt to appeal to cranky pre-teens.

Perhaps I’m getting old. I need to stop now; my head hurts.

Film Review: BRAVE


The new Pixar film is out on June 22, and it is called Brave, and it is wicked awesome. Wiki. I will attempt to tell you how awesome it is (‘review’ is probably a misnomer, since this is likely to be little more than lavish praise and gushing) but I really won’t spoil anything you can’t learn from the trailer or the cover of a new Brave coloring book now available at Target. Heck, I even picked photos that don’t reveal much. However, if you are a strict NO SPOILERS freakazoid, then don’t read ANY reviews until AFTER you see it. Just a suggestion. I won’t be blamed for your unhappiness.

My hero.

Last night I was privileged enough to catch an advance screening of Brave with my 4-year-old daughter. We were pumped, so pumped I didn’t mind relinquishing my cell phone. We are big Pixar fans, and all their releases (except that travesty known as Cars 2) are wonderful films. But even with such a high bar set by all those previous killer Pixar releases, I couldn’t have expected a film with this much depth, this many facets and which is successful on so many levels. In turns, and without seeming jumpy or forced, the film is mature, emotional, spooky, action-packed, hilarious, magical and gorgeous. It’s pretty impressive, all the things they managed to cram into this 93 minute movie.  But then again, this is Pixar. They are the best in the biz, right?

I predict an uptick in archery class registrations this summer.

Pixar films have always looked pretty sweet, so bright, sharp, and clean, but I knew something looked… different about this film, compared to the signature look of the older releases. It was realer. Smoother. Deeper. More natural. Better hair. Better facial acting, even. Turns out the studio totally reworked their hoosey-whatsis algorithmic thingys that make them there cartoon pitchers look real purty. As a result Brave looks incredible. The sound is stunning, too. Lush, pretty, and sometimes bone-shaking. The music adds an authentic feel, but it is not at all distracting. This is a flick to see at a quality cinema for full effect.

Mérida, self-rescuing princess.

Pixar folks must be taking some cues from their buddies over at Ghibli, because this protagonist is no swooning princess, but a feisty, independent young woman with nerves of steel. Meet Kelly MacDonald as Princess Mérida, the feisty redheaded you’ve seen in all the promos. You will likely get to know her well this summer as she grins at you from the side of your beverage cup. Well, this is one NEW kind of Disney princess. One of those self-rescuing princesses. And she really is not looking for a Prince right now, thank you very much, and she could probably kick my butt, and yours. Plus she’s funny, charming, brainy, a free-thinking progressive, a good sister, and a knockout with amazing hair.  She actually might not want to be a princess at all, because it interferes with thundering across the mist-drenched, gorgeously mystical looking Scottish landscape on a Highland Pony and loosing arrows with deadly accuracy at stuff.

Da fam.

We also have Mérida’s loving and impressive family, lead by one of those huge Pixar Dads (more of a mountain than a man, but a nice, funny ginger mountain), King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and an impressively together Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who is a bit severe and controlling for a young woman of Mérida’s tastes. She also has three hilarious non-speaking toddler prankster redhead brothers, who are responsible for a considerable amount of the hilarity, mayhem, sight gags and slapstick humor in the film. The cast is rounded out with three Scottish Clans filled to the brim with hilarious character types,  Mérida’s erstwhile Highland Pony Angus, an old wise woman, a scary monster of sorts, and of course, Scotland itself in a leading role.

Clan leaders! Haw!

Things open up with a young Princess playing with her loving mother and doting father on a gorgeous day in a sun-drenched field. It’s a glorious memory, really, a day which it turns out will live in legend, as a massive bear rears up to attack toddler Mérida and her fearless father throws himself between them and saves her life. In this, the first of many acts of bravery in this film, King Fergus loses a leg, and he is ever after locked in an Ahab-esque, life-long pursuit of the beast. Of course, the bear image recurs throughout the film, and we see the monster again before the film’s end.

Cut to the ‘present’ day 10th century, and Mérida’s parents applying pressure, as parents do, for her to make good and marry one of the appropriate suitors. Standard stuff. Mérida resists, which is no surprise, running off after a fight with moms. A rift in the family and a subsequent transformation lead to a surprising, moving, sometimes uproarious, pretty much jaw-dropping series of events. I cried four times, I think. I don’t think that’s saying too much in the way of spoilers.

A Wisp!

We also have a lot of neat details- the really cool recurring motifs of Will-O-The-Wisps leading our heroine to realize her destiny, haggis, Kilt jokes, Highland Games, stunning magic, and tons of mist. There is also a requisite stone circle, impressively ancient looking already in the 10th century, that figures in the story in a really creative way. All of this stuff is played in a way that feels authentic and natural. Even the kilt jokes, which are usually so stale, work fine. There are like 4 “nothing under the kilt” gags and I didn’t mind a bit.

This film is destined to be elevated to a spot near the top of Pixar’s cannon, which is no mean feat. Do yourself a favor and see it in a cinema with digital picture and sound this summer. You will be glad you did!

Deighvid and Danyol: Cartoons and Fine Art

Here are some cool pieces of art which are inspired by cartoons and animation characters.

These Adventure Time vs Studio Ghibli mash-up illustrations are by a 17 year old artist named Deighvid (aka David). (From Movielicious.)

Kiki’s Delivery Service, with Finn and Jake as Kiki and Jiji.

Princess Bubblegum as Ponyo.

Beemo as Noface!

Jake actually COULD be the Catbus… if he wanted.

I met another artist, also with a phonetically spelled name, this weekend at Bootie SF. Danyol (aka Daniel) also dabbles in pop-art appropriations. Here are a couple of his charming pieces based on vintage cartoons. He also gave me a piece of Sanrio inspired art, painted on a travel map of Israel, which we’ll be getting framed for Stella’s room.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast (Danyol, 2011)

Exit Stage Left (Danyol, 2011)

Squrrrl Installation Piece (Danyol, 2012)

Art is cool.