What is it about boys and toys? We never really grow up – our toys just grow up with us. Running the risk of gross generalisation, most of us retain a fascination for cars, gadgets, computer games and sport.
I’ve never bought into the vaguely unhealthy fascination for ‘boxed as-new’ action figures that sit on shelves in a sterile display of nerdism. I have resisted the urge to build any collections, other than the customary stamps, coins, pen tops, football cards, badges, toy cars, comics, marbles and Smurfs as a youngster. OK, maybe I’ve rebelled in my older age and allowed myself to relish the joys of eclecticism...
Enter the ideal incarnation of toys for adults (no, I’m not talking about ‘adult toys’!) Funky plastic characters have been around for a few years now but some of the best are emerging from the MAD Toy Design stable – brainchild of accomplished designer and illustrator Jeremy Madl.
In my view, a successful toy can be measured by it’s transition from original illustration to three dimensional product. Madl is a brilliant contemporary artist in his own right so I’m thrilled to see these characters brought to life in full three dimensional splendor.
There’s something about a figure with an enormous head (no, not Simon Cowell) but the original MAD*L’s simple block-headed design has taken on hundreds of guises since its launch in 2004. The choice isn’t limited to the many Madl designs as the figure is available in plain white – ready for some street-wise personalisation.
The packaging receives the same attention to detail as the contents – the MAD*L box in white with a repeated graphic silhouette in spot UV is in dramatic contrast to the bright red paint/blood splatters tracing the outline of the product within.
Another box that adds theatre to the figure is for ‘Dolbee’, an old analogue tape with arms and legs, goofy teeth and big eyes. The box resembles a cardboard ghetto blaster with the product showing through the deck window – simple but very effective.
With a collection of murderous ninjas, evil clowns and rogue graffiti artists, the MAD range goes from strength to strength and adds a mean streak to any office desk. Who says we have to grow up!