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

gabriele_galimberti_12

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!

SOLD OUT!

A Mardi Gras Miracle: Part Two

After the batch of pink babies, I was not sure what to expect in the next package. Booze? Voodoo dolls? Beads? No. MORE WEIRD PLASTIC BABIES. These things are a cottage industry. A visit to the Mardi Gras Imports website reveals that these King Cake Babies are a type of FANCY BEAD. Who knew. Despite that revelation, the website generated more questions than it answered. I like that.

This post is about the contents of the second box: Stella’s box.

NEW!

Amazing- they have seized on the strange appeal of these unholy infants and turned it into a game of Jacks! Or JAX. 10 ‘BABY’ JAX, to be precise. Gotta wonder who is writing the copy for this stuff. The back of the card contains precise, complex instructions for various JAX games with names like “Sweepies.”  Just trying to envision how to play these ancient games made my head spin. Stella will never play with these in their intended fashion. I am cool with that.

It's those weird "no ankles" legs again. I think they tucked their stirrup pants into their Reeboks.

I love these babies- they scream Mardi Gras like a hungry baby screams for mama. Goofy, bizarre plastic trinkets, slathered in lurid (possibly lead-based) paint and ready to get tossed off a float into a drunken crowd by a drunken person in a drunken costume? Sign me up! Hoo Na Nay!

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Stella immediately started rooting around in search of the original King Cake Baby, so she could reunite it with its family. An Heroic Inclination burns within her heart. They wept when they saw each other.

I admit, that photo is as fake and staged as a political rally. The plastic babies do not really have a special relationship. I couldn’t resist, though. I dug up the rest of them for a group photo. Apparently one of the Gold ones- let’s call her Goldie- has gone AWOL. Say cheese!

The King Cake Baby Family Picnic.

They look cute enough- at first. The shiny colors distract one from their eerie forms, unlike the pink mannequin spawn babies. However, upon closer examination, one realizes they do not share the cute little belly-button hole of the little babies.

Seriously?

 Oh no. The hole on these guys blasts brutally though the crown of their round little skulls and explodes out their butts. I am sorry to put it that way, but…

Fancy bead, indeed. Is there a doctor in the house?

I appear to have rendered myself speechless.

It seems that finally, hopefully, I have run out of steam on these babies. That’s fine with me. I am sick of writing about them.

The End.

A Mardi Gras Miracle: Part One

The day after Fat Tuesday (curse you, postal system! The Republicans were right!) the wife and I got a Mardi Gras gift from a friend in the mail. So did Stella. They were in two mysterious, yet mundane, cardboard boxes. The kind you’ve seen a million times before. Box-shaped. Brown. Made of cardboard. Not even the exuberant HAPPY MARDI GRAS! written in happy Sharpie® could betray the the mind-bendingly perplexing, wonderfully weird insanity contained within.

Should I go into the basement, retrieve the boxes, and stage a photo with them? No- I am far too tired, too lazy, and I hunger for authenticity. And explaining that is slightly more amusing than a photo of a cardboard box. I hope.

This post is about the contents of the first box: MY box.

Oh, baby.

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL! It’s Mardi Gras Imports Brand King Cake Babies! 6 Dozen of them, for only $2.75. Charmingly abbreviated with the snappy KG/CK BABY. I love that we are told the exact shade of pink: C203. This particular bag was made on August 11. Do plastic babies expire?

Apparently my friend had read this. Well played.

Bag O' Babies

Disturbing.

So many. So anonymous. So nude. Such weird legs. Such weird arms. Just enough of a face to make you wonder. It’s like a mannequin laid 10,000 eggs, and they just hatched. SHUDDER.

Got milk?

Stella wanted to handle them outside the bag. I couldn’t let them loose, because human babies will attempt to eat them with potentially disastrous results. So, I put them in a bowl. There was a surprising amount of mannequin spawn in the bag. 6 dozen of the little guys. That’s 72, which is a lot, it turns out. They filled the bowl to overflowing. Ew.

Delish.

Lighting is everything, isn’t it? These look like a completely different group of babies. Much more warm and appealing. And look- they have little FINGERS! Sort of.

Hold me.

Note that they have a hole straight through the gut and out the back. A perfect, clean, chaste, bullet hole. At least, that’s how it reads to me. I am a sick man.

Tomorrow: PART TWO!

The Prodigal Squinky

Recently, I ranted about toy dolphins, Squinkies, and my 3 year-old daughter’s favorite Squinky, who happens to be a little blue dolphin named Dolphiny. Pink Rubber Dolphin is Dolphiny’s mom. Don’t ask me about toy dolphin genetics.

Nana sent a pack of Squinkies in the mail a couple days ago, and lo and behold, it contained a SECOND dolphin Squinky, this time in purple. This was a momentous occasion.  I should have instantly realized this would naturally play into the fact that Stella has twin siblings.  This arrangement was left on the table at bedtime last night.

Hush little dolphins, don't you cry...

Even with twin babies, Pink Rubber Dolphin always looks perfect.

The Yo Gabba Gabba – Archie Bunker Toy Connection

Huge Yo Gabba Gabba! fan here. I consider it one of the best kids shows on TV. This is going to be an epic post. I am going to take my time meandering around to the point, because I have some meandering to do. Deal.

Our Protagonist with Yo Gabba Gabba! star, Foofa.

Yes, that’s right- we MET FOOFA. Foofa’s mitten hand was coming off, and Foofa had hairy wrists and a watch on, but still- as far as a 2.5 year old is concerned, we are now close personal friends with Foofa, the very embodiment of femininity.  In fact, Foofa gave Stella little Brobee doll, and a Tee. I mean come ON. Does it GET any more awesome? The Foofa in this photo and video moved like Foofa, which was pretty impressive, as I found out after the fact that this guy in the Foofa suit was a last minute stand in who had no idea who Foofa is. He never saw the show! He does pretty well. I guess the suit, cheapo knockoff though it is, just has the awesome supergirly Foofa vibe, you can’t help but fully become Foofa when you don it. It’s like method acting. They guy actually LOVED flowers while he was wearing this suit, and was not at all afraid of the dark. Watch the entire episode in the video below:

That video has more views than most of my youtube stuff. People dig this Foofa pretty hard!

We have metric tons of the YGG! toys and crap, originally valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, including Halloween costumes, shirts, bath toys – you name it. I put those YGG! guys’ kids through college. Stella was Foofa 2 years in a row for Halloween. I was DJ Lance Rock at a Halloween gig last year, and we both reprised our roles at Dragoncon, though admittedly it was partly for economic reasons. We couldn’t afford the Ghostbusters car.

DJ Lance Rock and Foofa at Dragoncon, 2011.

I even remixed Brobee’s hit single “Party In My Tummy.” I haven’t gotten around to doing a full Yo Gabba Gabba! mashup collection, but I WILL!  Click below for raw SOPA-defying tunage!

Click for the mp3.

Peanut Butter Jam (Buckwheat Boyz vs Technotronic vs Yo Gabba Gabba)

I mean, if you haven’t guessed by all my weird bragging about how strange my tastes are, we are deeply into this show. In fact I would die happy if I got a gig doing the end-of episode remix on an episode of YGG! Are you listening, Adam Deibert? (bats eyelashes)

So yeah, anyhoo… last year, I really wanted to bring Stella to the YGG! show and get backstage. We tried to win passes by making a ‘Cool Tricks’ video, but no dice. Here’s Stella’s Cool Trick video. I spent so much time making original music and editing together the video that I delayed the release and I fell behind in the voting. Excuses, excuses. It lost to an unedited video taken on a phone of a far less lovable child spazzing out in front of a huge television. AN OUTRAGE!

Through some luck and the kindness of a friend, (yay Jen Hill) we were able to score backstage VIP access and tickets, which meant that with my original tickets, we were now lined up for TWO shows back to back followed by a meet and greet. And healthy snacks with the Gabba Gang. Good lord. We’d died and gone to Gabba Heaven! Aaaaand of course I made a video. Do you hate me yet? No one’s MAKING you watch them! With this one, like the first 7 minutes is the show itself. If you want to see DJ Lance Rock and the gang backstage, skip to about 7:30 minutes in.

Stella loves that Biz.

OK, so with all that in mind- and I realize it is a lot to absorb- here is how I find my mind exploding one recent morning. I am drinking my coffee and browsing reddit. And here’s a Mentalfloss piece with more than you ever wanted to know about Yo Gabba Gabba. I begin skimming it, being such a deep YGG nerd that I already know most of more than you would ever want to know about Yo Gabba Gabba. And then, as I read one of the quick asides, I made one of the most jaw-droppingly insane pop culture connections I have ever made in my entire life. I think about this stuff way too much.

The Aquabats. Christian, aka MC Bat Commander, is the one on the left.

Christian Jacobs, highly inventive creator of Yo Gabba Gabba, lead singer of The Aquabats, voice of everyone’s favorite yellow robot Plex, was one of the cherubic child actors who played Archie Bunker’s grandson, Joey Stivic, on the spinoff “Gloria.” PLEX IS ARCHIE BUNKER’S GRANDSON.

My initial excitement paled slight when I learned roughly 15 kids played Joey Stivic on Archie Bunker and the various spin-offs through the years.  Still, it was pretty cool to learn that the creator of Yo Gabba Gabba had played this strange side-character in pop culture history. Joey Stivic was the first baby to have his diaper changed on TV- by Archie Bunker himself, I’ll have you know. And I am not going to let the fact that Jacobs played a roughly 10-year-old Joey, and not the iconic crying pee-pee factory Archie hauled around, lessen my bizarre satisfaction at making this connection.

You took er a dumpy-poo, dere, lil' Plex!

There was a baby doll made based on the “Joey Stivic: Archie Bunker’s Grandson” character, and the doll had working junk.

You heard me. Working. Junk. WORK. ING. JUNK.

Shudder.

That’s right! This doll was a ‘PHYSICALLY CORRECT MALE’ baby that drinks and wets. See the box for yourself. Disclaimer- these photos are from the wonderful site X-Entertainment. I did not take this horrible photo, oh no. I would never do such a thing. I just saved it and reposted it to my own website.

His first word: "Meathead."

Apparently, this doll is expensive and sought after by doll collectors, I suppose as a weird example of marketing gone awry. It caused mild outrage when it was released, apparently. I guess the objectors thought it would appeal to pedophiles or something? Or turn little girls into pervs when they played with it? I have no idea. And neither does Wikipedia, so don’t bother looking.

All I want for Christmas this year...

A lot of Yo Gabba Gabba toys are pretty collectable as well. Kid Robot made some nice big character dolls and they go for hundreds on eBay and Amazon now. I LOVE these guys! I can’t justify being a serious collector of these, though. I can’t afford this Foofa. Or this Biz Markie doll.

$250 Foofa doll. 1% of children love it!

So that’s the Yo Gabba Gabba / Archie Bunker Expensive Collectable Toy Connection.

The more you know!

King Cake and The Baby

The wife purchased a King Cake yesterday. It’s kind of like a Mardi Gras  cinnamon roll on steroids, dipped in frosting and drenched in the gloriously garish Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold. This one had a bunch of beads stuck on it, as well as a couple of cute little Mardi Gras coins. And of course, all King Cakes have The Baby in them.

King Cake mojo.

I wish I’d thought to take a picture before we tore it to pieces! Luckily, the angle above almost makes it look like savages hadn’t been first raised by wolves, then starved for weeks, and finally made to fight for the cake on national TV. It almost looks like that didn’t happen. Almost.

Forgive us. We had coffee, and it’s really good with coffee. It’s surprising we didn’t eat the beads. See below.

Pig Dogs were here.

Naturally, when you have kids, everyone is enjoying the cake enough, but in reality they are mostly all worked up about The Baby.

The kids: Who will find The Baby? Where is The Baby? How will The Baby manifest Itself? Can we keep The Baby?

The parents: Will they choke on The Baby and die? Is The Baby covered in lead paint? Am I being terrifically negligent? And just how fattening is this cake?

And before we knew it, we had somehow obliterated 79% of the King Cake, and I was suspecting a fraud. There WAS no The Baby. We’d been duped!

Stella: Dad, I want another piece!

Me: Sure, honey. (gets cake)

Stella: Ok, now eat it and find The Baby.

Finally, when all seemed lost, we located The Baby. I think it was just sitting under that pile of beads and frosting, and the removal of a hunk of cake knocked The Baby free. It was anticlimactic, at first- a surprisingly tiny, gleaming figure sitting on the plate in a wreckage of massive chunks of frosting shrapnel. I peered at it in disbelief, and then reeled back in shock as I stared at the abomination before me. Behold- The Baby!

The Baby.

A few things spring to mind immediately.

1. The Baby is a partial amputee. And has been since birth- the paint job has ‘healed over’ – so I could rest easy knowing there probably wasn’t a stray baby arm in the cake. I am a good father.

2. The Baby is metallic green. Is it some kind of robot? The liquid metal robots from Terminator 3 sprung to mind. Did it come from the future to choke my babies before they free us all from The Matrix 34 years in the future? GO KIDS GO! Curse you time traveling Baby Terminator!

3. Detail and proportions are weirdly disturbing. He has some kind of weird legpants and shoefeet. His head is too large.  The tiny green metal butt cheeks are perfect. They are TOO perfect, too symmetrical and detail free. Too perfect to be of this world. This fits with the ‘from the future’ theory.

4. Look at the cold wisdom in The Baby’s eyes. His oversized head is strangely serene. The Baby has lived for thousands of years, and has never shed a single tear. Yet, it smiles a vacant, empty smile while it mindlessly extends its broken arms in the mindless zombie shell of a Christlike embrace. It sends chills down the spine.

"Dad, look at The Baby's bum!"

So yeah… long story, short, we found The Baby. And I then spent 10 minutes trying to get a good picture of The Baby’s butt. And I thought it was a really good idea. Did I mention I have no life?

And then, because my daughter has OCD and is obsessed with tupperware, the small, green Baby got filed in a small, green place: a small, green plastic shot glass.

A small green world.

Introducing The Toys: Dolphiny and friends

I’m awake, for some reason, but it’s still pitch dark. I peer through the gloom and am able to squint the clock into focus: 4:34am. Suddenly I become aware that a small form is standing next to the bed. “Daddy,” her voice comes from the darkness. “I can’t find Dolphiny.”

The Dolphins.

Stella is obsessed with Dolphins. Not just any dolphins, mind you. She is into a family of toy dolphins who live in our home. This is not a play set, it’s a motley crew of ‘phins who began to gather from the broken vestiges of other playsets and the wreckage of the toybox to find strength in each other’s company. And that of some mermaids. And sea stars. They have deep, meaningful personal lives and a rich history of saving other toys, and each other, from peril.

DOLPHINY

The star of the show.

This is Dolphiny- the very diminutive of Dolphin. Practically microscopic. I should have included a quarter in this photo. “He’s cute!” you are exclaiming. I don’t blame you. I said the same thing. I was rewarded with this icy response: “It’s a GIRL, Dad.” Dolphiny is a Squinkie, which is a kind of little rubber creature. Rolling them around in your fingers and eyeballing them up close is surprisingly enjoyable. They are just so… rubbery. They smell nice too. A bit like rubber worms. Dolphiny even has a hat.

Dolphiny's hat.

Squinkies are cunningly sculpted. They have Toy Story Squinkies, Disney Princess Squinkies, Marvel Squinkies, Cars Squinkies, Barbie Squinkies, Hello Kitty Squinkies, and more other kinds of Squinkies, but I am tired of typing Squinkies repeatedly (try it, it’s a pain in the neck) and I don’t really feel like researching the different kinds of Squinkies on google. Suffice to say there are a LOT of different kinds of Squinkies. There are new Squinkie-Doos which have crazy troll-hair. Those are kind of dope. I can see the appeal, though I am terrified an appetizing little Squinkie will choke and kill a baby, so they have limited travel visas.

Squinkies. Or, mostly Squinkies.

Anyway, from the sale aisle at Target came a generic ‘sea creatures’ Squinkies set. I suppose they were cheap because they aren’t based on a series of 3D Pixar movies, but even the generic ones are pretty cute. We bought them as a behavior bribe. $3 well spent. Little did we know this little blue dolphin-child would become the small, rubbery sun around which all the other toy-planets in our home would revolve. I have no life.

PINK RUBBER DOLPHIN

I'm your Mother, dear.

Pink Rubber Dolphin is the name of a pink rubber dolphin. Creative, eh? Pink came from a set of mermaids which live in an underwater mermaid amusment park with a spinning octopus who squirts water at them while they ride swings attached to her tentacles. (The octopus, Octopussy, is pink and wearing heavy makeup, so I think it is a girl. Either that or Octopussy is in drag. I am open minded.) Nearby a water slide plops them into a little pool. Why do these mermaids lead a better life than me? And how do they afford this extravagance? There are treasure chests full of gold laying around for decoration. What is that octopus making per hour? Because they are working her like a DOG. (I just spent way too long finding this set online, and it’s a Barbie thing. Go figure. No wonder PRD and the Octopussy both have trampy eye makeup.)

Six Flags for Mermaids

But I digress. Pink Rubber obviously didn’t dig her Mermaid Overlords, because she soon said goodbye to her drag queen Octopus friend and defected from that playset to join up with Dolphiny, reuniting with her long lost daughter. That’s right- PRD is the mother of Dophiny! She’s also a bath toy that squirts out of her mouth.

DOLPHINY’S CREW

The Gang.

These are Dolphiny’s friends. Left to Right: BubberCuppy the snail, who is made of ice cream. Shatter the Dogfish, who has no discernable backstory. Dolphiny’s best friend, who came in that very same set of Sea Squinkies- Squashy the Sea Star. They don’t call starfish starfish anymore. Apparently, they aren’t fish. Squashy’s mom (not pictured) is called Squishy, even though she is made of hard plastic and is rather sharp.

DOPLHINY’S NEW, NAMELESS SISTER

Nice sash.

Dolphiny has a new adopted sister! I can’t remember her name, but she wears this silly band as a kind of silly sash. Jaunty style, Dolphiny’s nameless sister! Stella has her rated as younger than Dolphiny, but I am having trouble swallowing that. She rates as a teen dolphin, or a tween at least, based on size alone. She has low status-I think that is what Stella’s getting at. I think she may be a foster child. I asked Stella what her name was and Stella said shortly, “I don’t need her.”

DRUM: THE WIND UP DOLPHIN

Drum.

I set Stella loose at Junkman’s Daughter, and this is what she picked. A windup swimming Dolphin with clear sides so you can see the styrofoam in his/her head. Drum is an older dolphin, an aunt figure I think. When we play, Stella is usually all the other dolphins, and I am stuck keeping things coherent with the reasonable Drum. Drum used to be cool- I’m not sure what happened. I tried to find Drum to photograph her, but she is misplaced and Stella refused to help me find her. Finally she turned up. Not popular.

THE TWO DOLPHINS TRAPPED IN A BUBBLE

Dolphins as imagined by Samuel Beckett.

These guys swim in a bubble. Whenever you pop up the lid, they swim and swim and go nowhere. Since they are perpetually trapped, they can’t do much at playtime but swim, and hang out and watch the other Dolphins, dreaming of a time when they can help Dolphiny save Snakey from the Bat People. But alas- that will always be a mere… (Lid snaps closed. Darkness. Lid opens) Swim swim swim swim!

I thought, “One bonus is that it is a built in family unit- a parent and a kid dolphin! At least they have company in the external meaningless loop of their existence.” And then Stella told me they are more children of Pink Rubber. Apparently they are critically ill and must remain bubbled. PRD is a saint.

SUCTION CUP DOLPHIN

Dolphiny's arch enemy?

This guy is not a Squinkie, but he sure is cute, and he looks a lot like Dolphiny. He’s pleasing to handle. Perhaps that’s why he gets short shrift. Dolphiny rules this roost. She doesn’t tolerate interlopers, and she does not suffer fools gladly. So suction-cup dolphin is nameless; he is persona non grata. He is Dolphiny’s infant brother.

LAUGHING SHARK TOOTH DOLPHIN

Ha ha!

This is a new one, from Santa- it came from the same set as the foster sister. I think it’s a little scary, and that’s kept the other dolphins from really inviting LSTD to play very much. Do dolphins really have cold yellow eyes and horrible scary fangs like this? The only mention I have heard was when he said to the others,  “I’m Laughing Dolphin and I have Shark Teeth!”

"I'm Laughing Dolphin and I have Shark Teeth!"

Reaction from the other dolphins must not have been good, because Stella put him back in the bucket of sea creatures pretty quickly.

NEWSFLASH: Further questioning reveals this is DOLPHINY’S FATHER. Apparently he is the Darth Vader of this story. Stella just informed me of this, telling me “You don’t see him much because he works a lot a lot a lot.” His name is “Crumb.”

My head is spinning.