November 6, 2007

Odkins: For Example, A Plush Flava-Flav Giraffe


I saw the real Flavor Flav bustin' around somewhere recently, wearing that damn clock, and just waiting to collect his check. Man deserves to make a living, don't get me wrong, but it just seemed a little sad that he has to turn into a caricatured version of himself to do it.

A stuffed giraffe made from vintage upholstery fabric who wears a giant vinyl clock around his neck 24/7, on the other hand, that is dope. Cracks me up.

Odkins are made in Squamish, which is either in Washington state, or is in the same slightly too twee imaginationland where all the characters' names and oversharing backstories come from.

Not to bag on Odkins or anything, but the elaborate fictionalizing behind so many indie plush & vinyl toys is really spiraling out of control. What started with little fortune-cookie-sized writeups on Ugly Doll labels is now a jumbled universe of contradictory story lines; I mean, is anyone thinking about continuity here, people? Just look at how much energy is expended debating the implications of Han shooting first, or the pain and betrayal felt by kids--now grown--who were raised by the original Elmo, the one with a personality. Now multiply that by two million [the number of MFA students who bought sewing machines this year.] That's a lot of posses out there, you know what I'm saying?

How about a plush toy with a whiff of mystery about it? Just enough info to let the kid make up her own stories, hmm? Try that. Though the instant appeal of a Flava Flav giraffe is hard to resist...

Flava Flav Giraffe, $34 at Odkins' Etsy Shop [etsy via grassroots modern]


OK - but where's Alice Cooper model? (Alice Hyena?) Or Britney-Has-Issues-Ostrich?

[I bet she'll take commissions, or you could wait ten years for that Borat knitterlady to cook up some patterns. -ed.]

Squamish is a little north of Vancouver, BC.

I am surprised you haven't covered the Stupid Sock Creatures. Or maybe you have, and I simply cannot work The Google. Either way, monster has a knock off, made by grandma that is quite the popular toy around here.

[I was thinking of snohomish. -ed.]

Squamish = Canada
too twee = no kidding. plush toys, hello?!
a whiff of mystery = a reasonably good idea. but I like making stuff up. the oversharing spills out with the good stuff, like, hmm, clock-wearing giraffes. it's all or nothing man. all or nothing.

Hey, nice work.

Of course, feeling and discovering and fleshing out a character's an important part of the creation process: all or nothing, even.

The opposite could be the kind of mind-deadening, money-grubbing "property development" that results in, say, making one of the Teletubbies Latino, or how Children's Television Workshop decided they needed a sparkly pink and purple fairy to "sit on the shelf" next to the Elmo merchandise.

Maybe the oversharing [sic] is just one of the inevitabilities of toys and dolls becoming a medium of creative expression, and since more people are doing it and aware of the process and talking and trading and collaborating with each other, it's natural shoptalk. Whatever works for you, great.

But from a non-producing buyer's perspective--and maybe it's compounded because I'm buying for my kid, not myself, it can sometimes be TMI. I can end up feeling like I need to be a matchmaker, finding a compatible toy personality for your kid's own demeanor instead of just buying the cool one or the cute one or whatever.

As for the plush toy thing, sorry, I know they're not plush; it's a shorthand for non-vinyl. What's the better catchall term [besides 'softie' which is ice cream, sorry]? I've been through this with the Onesie TM people from Gerber's legal department, too; you'd think I'd learn my lesson by now.

Again, don't/didn't mean to dump all the indie toy world's problems on Odkins' sweet heads. If only I realized where Squamish is, I wouldn't have mentioned it at all; Canadians can be so sensitive ;)

it's okay - my soft squishy insides are sensitive/canadian, but I can take it :)

I agree with you altogether about the matchmaker business. It's amazing how much people respond to the stories, though. I believe it's people buying for themselves (adults) who enjoy the personalities, whereas people buying for children are more about the appearance. I'm somewhere in between. Ultimately, you're receiving a physical object with nothing that need compel you to pass along the story if the critter's all you're looking for. Keep the story or discard it - toys are greatly adaptable like that. (although i'm pretty sure the clock giraffe is unavoidably flav).

I'm not actually particularly sensitive about the term plush. I make all sorts of things (I'm an industrial welder by trade) - toys are a small (great) part of my life, not a defining aspect. But maybe we do need a catch-all term. I usually just go with stuffed animals.

Anyhow, thanks for the feature - Flav is totally flattered. Werd.

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