Action figures are usually reserved for comic book superheroes. Made believe characters with super powers, that everybody loves because they use their powers to make the world a better place. Some crafty toy makers must have taken this to heart when deciding to make action figures based on the likeness of rock musicians. Of course, this follows somewhat in the footsteps of marketing strategies of bands like KISS that had action figures (somewhat of their likeness) way back in the 70’s. Granted bands like KISS have always been very apt at selling many types of products adorning the band’s name and logo. Some of the other existing action figures out there tread the line between weirdly uncomfortable and quite fun.
Iggy Pop has an action figure (I understand that there’s a difference between dolls and action figures, but I’m not entirely clear on the details) and it almost makes sense that he should. Described by fans and peers as godfather of punk or the Bruce Lee of rock or even the king of rock n’ roll (the last statement being one that I would need to agree with) it seems to make sense that a character larger than life as is Iggy should be bestowed with his very own action figure. The character of Iggy Pop has become something of a myth or folk tale and belongs as much to the world as it does to it’s creator Jim Osterberg. For those interested in the toy, web site sell it for around $15.
There are of course some action figures you might expect to see on the market. There is a Johnny Cash action figure (just like a lot of other products endorsed by the Cash estate), AC/DC or Jimi Hendrix figures. There are also a few of alternative rock musicians which given the nature of their music, some have deemed disrespectful. Of course, others just see it as something fun and not much different from owning a poster or shirt of the band. There are a couple different versions of a Kurt Cobain action figure. In this one he is seen with the attire worn in the Smells like teen spirit video and with his trademark Fender Mustang guitar.
There are action figures depicting the Ramones (below there is Joey and Johnny) which to be fair is not far removed from the image of bubblegum meets biker gang they created for themselves. Granted some might notice how commercial opportunities for the Ramones have been enormous in recent years, while at their peak the band was enjoying far less success then some of their New York peers. Oh, well.
There are also action figures depicting the late Lemmy Kilmister, Slash, Metallica or Zakk Wylde. There was an interesting case in 2011 dealing with the rights of a rock musician over their image. The bass player and singer of the psychobilly band the Horrorpops, Patricia Day, sued the company making the Barbie dolls over a doll that the singer claimed was directly inspired by her own image. Apparently, Barbie was marketing a a set of dolls with a “rock theme”. They had obtained the permission from the likes of Joan Jett or Debbie Harry but had not spoken to Patricia Day about doing a rockabilly/psychobilly styled doll. The singer claimed that the company used the cover of one of the band’s albums as inspiration for the doll.
There are also bobbleheads of rock musicians. The company Aggronautix made a host of bobbleheads depicting alternative and punk rock musicians. One of the ones easiest to google for results (we assume thus proving it’s popularity) is that of GG Allin. In all fairness great work seems to have been put into this with depiction including the blood, the filth, the tattoos that were trademark to Allin’s unsettling stage presentation. The company also makes models depicting Mojo Nixon, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Keith Morris or Wendy O. Williams.
Recently it was announced that Steve Ignorant of punk rock collective Crass would have his own action figure which was greeted with some amusement given the nature of the message of the anarcho-punk group. Also, there is little to be said here about the actual resemblance of the figure to Steve Ignorant.
Mike Patton of Faith no More and Mr. Bungle decided to release toys somehow related in their image of the bands featured on his own label Ipecac Records, which look quite odd and great. The original idea for the design of the toys proving that label marketing can be fun and inventive and not simply a just cash grab.