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Trophy Wife Barbie

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Like most boys of a certain generation, I had an Action Man. Action Man was the British equivalent of America’s G.I. Joe. A twelve-inch doll with movable parts, “gripping hands,” short-cropped hair, and sometimes a stubbly beard. It sounds like a sex toy. Maybe it was. Most likely not as Action Man didn’t have a dick.

I never thought of him as some kind of ideal man. Action Man may have had a ripped body, a macho scar on his cheek, and a military wardrobe the envy of every tin-pot dictator but he had no dick. Action Man was just a piece of plastic that I gave meaning by inventing various games by which to play with him. This was mainly fighting Nazi zombies, escaping Frankenstein’s laboratory, and the occasional scientific experiment like testing the law of gravity by throwing Action Man out of a bedroom window with a homemade handkerchief parachute. Action Man was just a toy that lived through my imagination until books, records and girls came along.

Annelies Hofmeyr uses her imagination to cast Barbie in various satiric images that challenge gender identity. Hofmeyr is a South African conceptual artist who operates under the name WIT MYT. This is pronounced as “vit mate” and according to Hofemyr:

WIT stems from the Afrikaans word for WHITE and MYT, a derogatory term for a domestic worker, a job usually reserved for coloured (mixed race) and black people. The same phonetic word in Dutch (the colonisers of South Africa), means girl.

Hofmeyr was born in South Africa sometime in the 1980s, the daughter of a gunsmith father and a British mother. She studied Fine Art and Graphic Design in Cape Town before beginning her peripatetic life traveling around the world due to a “combination of study debt” and South Africa’s “strained political situation.” Living in various countries, Hofmeyr studied a Contemporary Jewelry course in Melbourne, Australia. This started her career creating “Contemporary Adornment” and conceptual art.

Hofmeyr started her Trophy Wife Barbie pictures on the day of her divorce. Her first photograph featured Barbie clutching Ken’s decapitated head with the caption “Yay! My divorce went through today!” underneath. She posts her pictures on her Instagram page. Hofmeyr uses Barbie to make satirical and politically-charged comment about gender and everyday sexism. As Hofmeyr has said:

She has been judged by her appearance and now that her situation has changed (and she’s no longer a wife) she needs to find her identity outside of her label.

Prints of Trophy Wife Barbie are available at $18 a pop. See more of Hofemyr’s work here.
 
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More Trophy Wife Barbies, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Tesco Vee of The Meatmen auctioning off rare vintage toys from his ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ collection


The great Tesco Vee of The Meatmen sans his giant inflatable penis.
 
Perhaps it was his time teaching elementary school for a few years while working to get his zine Touch & Go off the ground that got Tesco Vee interested in collecting toys. Maybe he’s just a big kid himself. Whatever it was, during his lifetime Vee has amassed a rather large array of collectibles that include everything from ABBA dolls, to anything to do with Satan and Red Devil toys. And then there is Vee’s affinity for stockpiling vintage television related-toys such as plastic artifacts created for Get Smart, The Munsters, and The Addams Family. But these things somewhat pale in comparison to Vee’s collection of Man from U.N.C.L.E. toys which the man who still has (and uses) his wide variety of inflatable penises on a regular basis, says may be the largest of its kind in the entire world.

In a 2014 interview, Vee mused about buying a building where he could open the “Tesco Toy Museum.” There he could showcase his collection of the atomic age fun he’s been collecting since the 80s. Vee is pretty serious about his toy army and sticks by the motto “if it comes in a box, it stays in a box.” Though the reason Vee has decided to sell off 24 toys associated with his Man from U.N.C.L.E. stash isn’t clear, the fact is that he is selling it. So if one of your teenage dreams was to own a toy that was once owned by Tesco Vee, then this is your lucky day, punk.

A quick peek at eBay tells me that pristine Man from U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia is highly sought after and items such as a handheld pinball game based on the show can sell for a couple hundred bucks. All of the items up for grabs from Vee’s own basement are available to bid on over at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles including a super rare Man from U.N.C.L.E. Target Set that was originally sold through the 1965 Sears Wishbook. Zowie. I’ve included a few images of my favorite items from Vee’s auction below. Happy bidding!
 

A puppet based on actor David McCallum’s portrayal of Agent Illya Kuryakin on ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’
 

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Attache Case circa 1965.
 

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Halloween masks for Napoleon Solo (played by actor Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin. Made in 1966. 
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Limited edition Alejandro Jodorowsky ‘El Topo’ figurine
10.19.2016
10:45 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Alejandro Jodorowsky
toys
El Topo


 
For a certain type of person, the announcement of four figurines based on characters from the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky—and created in consultation with the director himself—will be cause for much fanboy and fangirl rejoicing. If you are the significant other of one of these certain types of people, then this is the part where you cross them off your Christmas list, he wrote chuckling to himself, knowing fully well that his own wife would be reading this post…(!)

With pre-orders starting this Friday, October 21, ABKCO Films and Unbox Industries are unleashing the first in a series of licensed limited edition figurines based on the work of Jodorowsky, specifically characters from his films El Topo and Holy Mountain:

The first figure released is El Topo (“The Mole”) from the landmark cult film of the same name that began the Midnight Movie phenomena of the counterculture 1970s.  Classic Americana and avant-garde European sensibilities meet Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and cosmic mystic El Topo, played by Jodorowsky, must defeat his four sharp shooting rivals on an ever increasing path to allegorical self-enlightenment and surreal resurrection. The statue, made of polystone, a full 14 inches in height and distress brown in color, features exquisite detail and is packaged in a specially crafted wood embossed box. Each piece bears the replica signature of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The highly respected sculptor Andrea Blasich worked closely with ABKCO and Jodorowsky to ensure the figurines are as realistic as possible to their characters from the films.

As you can see, it looks very nice.

Unbox Industries will be releasing future figurines based on Jodorowsky’s 1973 masterpiece The Holy Mountain later this year and in 2017. I doubt they’ll do this, but imagine what it would be like if they did the famous Christ statue from the film and you obtained dozens of them for display in your own home. It would be expensive, sure, but just think how impressed the guy reading the gas meter would be!

Pre-order yours from the Unbox Industries website.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Frozen Charlotte: The creepy Victorian-era dolls that slept in coffins and were baked into cakes
12.16.2015
11:09 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

Tags:
toys
Frozen Charlotte
creepy dolls

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Antique dolls can be rather creepy. But antique dolls kept in coffins or served up in puddings and cakes for ravenous young children are definitely creepy. But wait, how, you may ask, did all this creepiness come about? Well dear reader, back in your great-great-great-great grandmama’s time, children were given a tiny pottery doll to play with. This doll was made from one piece of unglazed porcelain with no moveable limbs—pale white with only the slightest coloring on hair, cheeks, lips and eyes. Not exactly an iPad.

The doll was originally manufactured in Germany in 1850 and sold as the perfect playmate for baby’s bathtime. However, it soon became associated with a popular poem of the day “Young Charlotte” written by humorist Seba Smith in 1840. The poem recounted the grim true tale of a young woman who had frozen to death one New Year’s Eve while out riding with her sweetheart in an open sleigh. This poor unfortunate lass had failed to heed her mother’s advice:

“O, daughter dear,” her mother cried,
“This blanket ’round you fold;
It is a dreadful night tonight,
You’ll catch your death of cold.”

“O, nay! O, nay!” young Charlotte cried,
And she laughed like a gypsy queen;
“To ride in blankets muffled up,
I never would be seen.”

Smith’s poem inspired the folk song “Fair Charlotte”:

“He took her hand in his — O, God!
’Twas cold and hard as stone;
He tore the mantle from her face,
Cold stars upon it shone.
Then quickly to the glowing hall,
Her lifeless form he bore;
Fair Charlotte’s eyes were closed in death,
Her voice was heard no more.

What had been intended as a German bath toy soon became known in America as a “Frozen Charlotte.” The dolls cost a penny and were insanely popular—some being sold with their very own coffin and blanket-cum-shroud. In Britain these dolls were often baked into a pudding or cake as a fun surprise for children to discover—or more likely break their teeth on—at Christmastime.

Frozen Charlotte dolls are highly collectible and if you fancy getting your hands on one, well put a bid in here.
 
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More creepy Frozen Charlottes, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Killer 70s horror-themed motorcycle toys: Scare Cycles!
10.12.2015
11:45 am

Topics:
Design
Pop Culture

Tags:
toys


 
The Ideal toy company produced a line of Evel Knievel themed “gyro powered” motorcycle toys from 1973 until 1977, the year Knievel attempted to beat Shelly Saltman to death with a baseball bat. Needing a quick replacement for their motorcycle toys, Ideal rolled out a line of “Scare Cycles” in 1978. These were the coolest toys ever in 1978. There were three characters in the series of monster-themed bike riders: Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Grim Reaper. Somehow the horror of monsters on cycles was deemed more palatable to children than the real-life horror of a baseball bat-wielding stunt-monster on a bike.
 

 

 

 
Dracula rode a “Dracucycle”—a coffin on wheels. Frankenstein’s monster rode a “Frankencycle” with skull handlebars and a tombstone backrest. The Grim Reaper rode “Boneshaker,” a three-wheeled hearse.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Nightmare Feddy,’ ‘Anna Montana’ and other Chinese import toy knock-off fails
07.29.2015
11:21 am

Topics:
Amusing
Pop Culture

Tags:
toys
Freddy Krueger
engrish


Photo via i-mockery.com
 
Several years ago I first became aware of “Nightmare Feddy,” a Chinese bootleg doll of Freddy Krueger from the popular A Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise, and I’ve been laughing about him ever since. I’m not sure what it is specifically about the name “Nightmare Feddy” that I find so funny, but its one of those things that pops into my head from time to time and I just kind of start laughing to myself over it. “Nightmare Feddy.” It’s just so stupid.
 

Photo via i-mockery.com
 
Apparently I’m not the only person obsessed with “Feddy.” I’m no toy collector, but I’ve wanted one of these Chinese failure figures for years now—I’ve kept my eyes peeled for one in the wild, to no avail. They turn up regularly on eBay,  usually priced between $40 to $80. Yeah, I want this dumb conversation piece, but not forty bucks worth.

But still, just look at this stupid thing. Look at its shoes!
 

Photo via i-mockery.com
 
“Nightmare Feddy” might be a scarce, improbable collector’s item, but a trip to your local Dollar Tree will undoubtedly reveal shelves upon shelves of strangely-titled knock-off toys which are good for similar ESL laughs.

Here’s a treasury of Chinese toy knock-off fails:
 

Feddy’s cousin: “Monster”
 

“Spook Chasers”
 

“Anna Montana”
 
More Chinese toy fails after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
DIY sex toys. One of ‘em involves a turntable.
06.09.2015
02:38 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Sex

Tags:
toys


 
Dutch band De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig (which means to “Kids These Days” or “The Youth of Nowadays”) released a music video a few years back for their song “Elektrotechnique” which only features DIY sex toys. I’m not going to lie, I don’t understand a few of these homemade “sexual pleasure enhancers.” Okay, let me correct myself, I understand how they work, I guess I just don’t get how some of these would feel good or be pleasurable? I’m going to assume the majority of these are just freaky art installations. Who knows.

But hey, if they get your rocks off… then go for it. I don’t want to be all judgmental about something certain folks might dig.

 
via WFMU on Twitter

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Cast that first stone with The Jesus Slingshot
06.04.2015
07:54 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief

Tags:
toys

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You’ve tried church. You’ve tried prayer. You’ve even sacrificed the fatted calf, but God still won’t smite your enemies. Get The Jesus Slingshot, new from My Left Behind Toys! The Jesus Slingshot will help you do unto others before they can do unto you!

This blasphemous gravel launcher has been cropping up at least since H. R. Giger imagined Satan using a Jesus slingshot for his painting Satan I in 1977. That particular image gained notoriety as the cover for non-yodeling Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost’s album To Mega Therion in 1985.
 
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More recently, Berlin-based artist Jaybo included a Jesus slingshot in his exhibition Useless.
 
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And the Jesus slingshot has been used as a meme bait linked to the Bozar shop in Brussels.
 
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If you’re handy with a blade, you can carve your own, otherwise, you may be lucky enough to come across one in a market for around $7.
 
H/T Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Q: Are We Not Throbbleheads? DEVO’s Booji Boy limited edition
05.15.2015
12:40 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
toys
DEVO


 
Booji Boy (you’re supposed to say it like “Boogie Boy” but no one ever does) was a character created by DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh in the early 1970s after he found a sick-looking rubber “baby mask” in an Akron, OH novelty store and added a hazmat suit and high-pitched voice. Booji Boy made his first appearance in the short film DEVO made in 1976, The Truth About De-Evolution, where Booji Boy’s father, General Boy, was portrayed by Mothersbaugh’s own father, Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr.

Booji Boy’s “origins” were discussed in the booklet to DEVO’s CD-ROM video game Adventures of the Smart Patrol:

Obsessed with the idea of genetic mutation, Craig submitted to a botched operation in an effort to land a media deal with Big Media. Viola! Boogie Boy - a bizarre adult infant freak with pre-adolescent sexuality and Yoda-like wisdom.

The liner notes also discussed his father’s backstory a bit:

General Boy’s career as a military intelligence officer was cut short over his claim that he experienced an alien abduction. He was made to undergo psychiatric testing which resulted in progressive mental instability. Shortly after his son’s transformation into Boogie Boy, he stopped answering to Mr. Rothwell and became General Boy out of love and sympathy for his son.

 

 
And now there is a throbblehead based on Booji Boy, brought to you by Aggronautix, the same folks who have previously produced toys featuring Jello Biafra, Andrew W.K., GG Allin, Roky Erickson and Mark Mothersbaugh himself sporting a DEVO energy dome hat:

Based on DEVO concert photos dating back to the late 1970s, this limited edition bobblin’ Booji Boy figure is wearing his favorite over-stuffed exercise suit, and is armed with an early circuit-bent toy.

Booji Boy is limited to just 1000 numbered units and includes a Booji Boy vinyl sticker sheet. You can pre-order yours now, DEVO fanboys, and it will ship in June. Now they just need to make one of General Boy. That would be very… obscure.

After the jump, ‘The Truth About De-Evolution’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Something for the hardcore ‘Doctor Who’ fan?
04.11.2015
09:20 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Sex

Tags:
toys
Dr. Who

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The advice usually given to many a young hopeful entrepreneur is to find a hole in the market and… er… fill it. Taking that suggestion literally appears to be exactly what Sporkwood has done with this handmade solid metal design for personal “fetish wear.”

This shiny little toy is intended for “mature” enjoyment and (I guess) for the hardcore Doctor Who fan. It’s available with either a blue “TARDIS” or “Bad Wolf” logo, and if you’re interested, one of these playthings will cost you £24.53 (approx $36).

It would certainly get that old sci-fi convention swinging.... One also has to wonder: Did the BBC authorize these?
 
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With thanks to Elizabeth Veldon!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Riot Squad toys: Train your tots to quash rebellion for their capitalist overlords


“Police Force Role Play Set for kids with Combat Vest, Riot Shield, Badge, Handcuffs, Machine Gun Toy, Grenade, Club & Knife”
 
I’m not actually particularly against “war toys.” Kids have violent little imaginations, and I don’t think there’s any causal correlation between acting them out and actual shootings—lots of kids have toy swords, but it’s not like we’re dealing with a rash of impalements. That being said, there is something about riot squad dress-up sets and riot squad vehicle LEGO sets that’s particularly gross, probably because it’s a much more literal representation of a visible violent institution. I mean, when kids play soldier, there’s the antagonist of a foreign “enemy” that keeps it a distant fantasy. Even when kids play “policeman,” it’s a kind of generic take on justice, like being a “sheriff,” but come on, a riot squad? What are they supposed to be doing, playing Ferguson?

I would expect this from a dress-up kit (costume companies are run by insane people, for insane people), but I feel so sad about LEGO stooping to this level! Look at those little minifig pigs! You have to wonder who among the children who will receive these toys will grow up to be dissidents, and who among them will join the other side, right? This is probably about as insidious as war toys are, of course, but can’t we at least agree there’s something creepy about tiny little running dogs of capitalism with itty-bitty riot shields?

EDIT: The “LEGO”-looking toys are not LEGO-brand, but a counterfeit block set, much to our relief. Apologies to readers for the misunderstanding, and apologies to LEGO for besmirching their noble name.
 

Riot Police Car, 325 piece set
 

Minifigs from above LEGO set

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Maybe now isn’t the best time to sell an Ebola plush toy?
10.14.2014
04:50 pm

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
toys
Ebola

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I’m not sure if this will make it on to my letter to Santa this year, it might kind of look out of place next to my requests for, you know, world peace, an end to famine and war and the Scooby-Doo DVD box set, but you never know.

The Ebola plush toy is made by GIANTmicrobes®, a company that makes… er… giant microbe toys “designed as a teaching tool to help small children learn about the importance of handwashing”

GIANTmicrobes® have been created for many other purposes. There are now over a hundred designs depicting everything from the cells of the body, to the probiotic creatures that improve health, to the philanthropic microbes that make bread and yogurt, to the aquatic amoebas and paramecium familiar to high school students, to a wide range of medical pathogens.

The Ebola plush toy (a million times the real size) costs $9.95, while a gigantic toy is $29.95 and petri dish $14.95. Ebola is described as the “T. Rex of microbes” and this toy is a “uniquely contagious gag gift” even if it does look like a giant joby.
 
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Sadly, these are all currently out of stock, but there are 150 Originals to choose from including:
 
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The Black Death (Yersinia pestis).
 
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Acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus).
 
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Amoeba (Amoeba proteus).
 
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Bad Breath (Porphyromonas gingivalis).
 
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Bird Flu (Influenza A virus H5N1)
 
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Diarrhea (Campylobacter jejuni).
 
While GIANTmicrobes® have an educational point to their existence, I’m not sure what the point of the Ebola baby suit is (though it claims “to speak for itself”) other than reminding us of our privileged position in the Western world compared to all the thousands of babies, children, women and men dying from the disease in Africa. Or maybe it’s just supposed to be in bad taste?
 
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Now, wash your hands!
 
With thanks to Duke.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Racist mechanical toys of the late 19th century
08.04.2014
09:51 am

Topics:
History
Race

Tags:
toys


 
This 1882 toy catalog from The Automatic Toy Works company in New York City depicts some impressive mechanical playthings, boasting “artistic designs, strength and durability of construction and elegance of finish.” The document, now preserved by the Library of Congress, is a fascinating record of what constituted early tech toys, and among the models advertised are a drummer boy on a cart, a crawling baby and a rearing bear.

Oh, and a “heathen Chinese.”

Yes, advertised even more frequently than animals or genial human figures are grotesque racial caricatures. Even the seemingly neutral depictions—the benevolent-looking “Celebrated Negro Preacher”, for example—are followed up by a counterpart like “Brudder Gardner,” who looks downright monstrous. There is one ugly face in the catalog that could be white—the politically-charged “woman’s rights advocate,” though the cross-hatching on her face implies a less-than-porcelain complexion.

For comparison, here is a woman at a sewing machine—one who is presumably not interested in obtaining the vote.
 

 

 

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More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Toys’: Grizzly GI Joe stop-motion animation from 1966 takes a dark look at war toys
05.29.2014
10:58 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
toys
Grant Munro


 
Last week Donald Levine, the man who brought GI Joe to millions of little boys, died at the age of 86. A Korean War veteran, Levine introduced the first-of-its-kind action figure to the market in 1964 while working for the company that would later become Hasbro. While GI Joe was initially a runaway success, the Vietnam War soon soured much of public opinion on war toys and sales quickly took a hard hit. Production was actually halted in 1976 and it was six years before GI Joe was relaunched.

There’s little evidence to suggest that war toys encourage violence and far more to suggest that dolls socialize children. When you consider the fact that GI Joe still has the distinction of normalizing doll-play for millions of little boys, it could be argued that he is inherently transgressive, maybe even feminist. For many adults though, the idea of war toys is at least vulgar, if not insidious, and “Toys,” the 1966 short by Grant Munro, articulates those feelings with brilliant GI Joe stop motion animation.

The film begins with a nauseating cacophony of childhood cheer, as the kiddies gaze into a window display of toys. Then there’s a switch—the kids become as static as the playthings they covet and the GI Joes come to life, reenacting gory scenes of a brutal war. It’s pretty evocative stuff especially considering it’s all plastic toys staged on simple diorama sets.

It’s difficult to say whether or not the film is directly condemning war toys, but I suspect the ambiguity is purposeful and that Munro intended to inspire critical thought rather than propagandize directly. Like Levine, Munro was a Korean War veteran, and as a member of the Canadian Forces, he even received the Presidential Unit Citation for his service in the Battle of Kapyong. It’s interesting that the film came out only two years after the release of GI Joe—“Toys” was, ironically, the very first GI Joe animation, proceeding even the Saturday morning cartoons that doubled as half-hour commercials for this iconic toy. 
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Princely Toys’: Creepy toy documentary
11.19.2013
02:11 pm

Topics:
Television

Tags:
documentary
toys
automatons


 
I first discovered the amazing 1976 BBC documentary Princely Toys—about the incredible antique automaton collection of a man named Jack Donovan—on an art film tracker with the description “creepy toy documentary.”

That seemed too good to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t. Princely Toys is an unexpected pleasure and, yes, it’s a little creepy (check out the animated smoking monkey doll dressed as Napoleon in the beginning or the doll hacking a woman’s bloody torso with a butcher knife) but mainly it’s just… really neat. The soundtrack is probably from a music library, but it’s a suitably weird synth-based Muzak-y sort of affair that fits perfectly with the dimly-lit footage of Donovan’s superb 19th century animated doll collection.

There’s next to no information about this doc online. After his death, much of Jack Donovan’s unique collection was apparently acquired by the York Automata Museum, and after that closed down, sold to a Japanese collector.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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