Paparazzi shots and society portraits

butch on a bike What a cutie. I found the Playmobil Hell's Angel for sale in Tesco's for 1.49, and took it home even though I didn't much fancy owning a biker with a big shaggy beard and a painted-on hairy chest. Fortunately, like all Playmobils, the beard is detachable. I carefully removed it to reveal a baby-dyke smile beneath, and turned his hairy chest into an orange t-shirt. She's butch, but she's beautiful.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

the painted queen Eventally they reduced the adult collectable Queen Amidala dolls to 4.74 in Toys-R-us, and I bought the one that looked beautiful (mostly they looked appropriately idiotic). I watched The Phantom Menace on premiere in Oxford, got a certificate and everything, and afterwards even thought I enjoyed it. It was only later when I thought back on it, and compared it to the original Star Wars films that I began to feel ... sullied by my enjoyment, and eventually my unease hardened into disgust and bitterness. Amidala, however, remains the most glamourous pre-pubescent girl in cinema since Leon's little chum. Top doll, shit character. She's standing on my Ben Wa balls, my tiny Playmobil devil is nestling in her skirts, and those huge yellow feet belong to the hideous eyeless owl. Take a closer look.

harley quinn smiles for the camera One of the great innovations of the new Batman animated series was Harley Quinn (Harleen Quintzel, to give her her full name), sometime therapist to the Joker, now his mad-as-a-weasel girlfriend/sidekick. The animated series main character dolls are rather butch and charmless, but some of the minor ones were very cute. Harley came with a few comedy weapons, including the classic boxers glove punch gun. Harley is Poison Ivy's best friend, provoking any number of "Harley and Ivy" Christmas specials, and she's already been reinvented several times by the "mature readers" writers. The Poison Ivy doll was terrible, so she's currently lonely and friendless, poor thing.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

beautiful barbinda Jason brought me back a Barbie from India, dressed in a hot pink Sari and tiny pink shoes, with big brown eyes, a soft smile and a barbie pink caste mark. She seemed a natural companion to the purple flock sparkly deer my sister bought me for christmas, and the hot pink dinosaur toned, while the bright green lizard made a point of contrast. Just visible in the background is one of the hideous legless chocolate frogs (a Harry Potter tie in), some never opened magic crystals, and a very old blue bird sat on a lego egg.

yum, yum chickee When Neal's first company went bankrupt for the second time, he rescued a two-headed monster from the wreckage for me. At the time we thought it had been made by one of the company's disturbed animation artists, but I've since seen them for sale. Monster has dressed up to be photographed, in cracker necklaces, and he's carefully holding easter chicks in his jaws so he'll look extra fierce.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

making an entrance I couldn't believe it when I bought teeny-tiny Tuxedo Mask (a Sailor Moon doll) and discovered that he had been sold without a rose! How could he romantically intervene in fights without his main weapon? Fortunately it turned out that small fabric roses were available from Remnant King (they are, of course, a standard trimming for wedding dresses) so he now has loads of roses. His legs don't bend terribly well so he has a seatbelt to keep him securely perched on Kitten, my frill-necked lizard (Damian has a kitten called Lizard) but his clothes are immaculate. Insofar as Servelan is ever impressed by anything, she's impressed.

the robot on rollerskates A birthday present, this one. The helmet comes off to reveal a perky smiling robot face beneath, and the wheels slide out of the skates, who knows why. It's exceedingly stable (probably because Playmobil dolls are stiff and light) and will even wheel along for a little way if you push it carefully. His hair is silver. Can you see who he is yet? It may not say so on the packet or anywhere, but it's the robot from Return to the Forbidden Planet, isn't it?
Photo by Matt Brooker.

dodgy tom in the spotlight When Blue Cobra got his disco-fu suit, he loaned his old uniform to Dodgy Tom, who teamed it up with some smart Ken shoes and some star-shaped stickers to wow the ladies. What is that thing between his legs? It's a novelty biro, with a sparkly body and a top made of a puff of ostrich feather and a mirror-ball style bauble on a spring. It seemed to go quite well, so I propped it up on the back of the dinosaur from Toy Story, which (I have an ugly suspicion) is a Macdonalds toy but I did buy it from Scope. His eyes pop out when you open his mouth. The dinosaur's, not Dodgy Tom's.

born to chew This little blue godzilla baby spends most of his life chewing on things, and wouldn't shut his mouth even to have his photo taken by a real photographer. You can't really tell how big he is from this shot, but if your hands aren't too big, he's just the right size to grab onto your thumb and chew. They're so cute at that age.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

caught outside Heaven The mysterious Blue Cobra and the frankly all too upfront Pocahontas face the flashbulbs outside the disco. Ripped to his tits (false -- stuffing from Callisto, who's costume he's wearing), Pocahontas has boosted the mirror ball (I bought a pack of six to over-decorate a tiny tree), while Blue Cobra, his trousers somewhat disarrayed (he's a bit butch for them really) looks ready to thump the paparazzi. They're obviously in some stinky back-alley; it's crawling with chickens, godzilla babies and miniature elephants. Pocahontas: Let him go, Blue, he's not worth it!

the littlest godzilla baby of them all This little Godzilla baby, as well as being very blue, has an especially appealing attitude. He's carrying a spool of Rioja wire, which I find exceedingly useful to have around the house as it looks pretty, and is tough enough to hold toys together. The bright, featureless backgrounds in these photographs are curved sheets of fluorescent card, which Matt left at my house after he photographed the toys. "Here," he said, "You'll find a use for these."
Photo by Matt Brooker.

proud 2 be wrm White Rapper Midge is proud 2 be her. From her tiara (Super Sindy's) to her tiny pink high heels (Indian Barbie's) she's 1000% home-girl class, ever since she nicked Dodgy Tom's shell suit. She's dressed it up with plenty of gold (scavenged from the bottom of my jewellery box) some badges (charity lapel pins) and bangles (cracker rings and twist ties). Her pendants are an original Sindy pendant (came with some of the earlier Sindy dolls) and a gold sign from my money tree. White Rapper Midge has a moment of doubt.

do not cross usagi yojimbo Usagi is a wonderful comic by Stan Sakai. It tells the story of a Ronin (masterless Samurai) wandering though feudal Japan, his tangles with the law and local warlords, his adventures with the Ninja clans and wandering bounty hunters, as well as lighter tales of kite festivals, ghosts and inn stories. The Usagi action figure is exceedingly faithful to the master's art and comes with positively excessive quantities of accessories including the spear and sword he is brandishing here. Though the sword looks red, this is only because its silvering is reflecting the background; and though Usagi looks savage, he is really as gentle and kind as his namesake, the rabbit.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

queen of all she surveys Xena stares imperiously. Doesn't she look queenly and dignified? The costume is one she wore in an episode where she was playing a Chinese warlord -- a bad Xena. The headdress is stuck on, but the costume is removable. She has black pants and soft leather mocassins on underneath. Her head is loosely attached for maximum posability, meaning that if you spread her arms and carry her along by her head, she wobbles like a chinese ghost.

the happy playmobil executioner Ah, the happy Playmobil Executioner, with his big axe and happy smile under his red hood, as featured in Bizarre magazine, among other places. Playmobil often seem to have very grim and strange characters among their toys, and because they are designed for the international market there is never any explaination as to why you have, for example, two small children and a child-sized golden bird cage, just a mysterious serial number.
Photo by Matt Brooker.

paparazzi · tragedies of scale · friends · cover · lurid stories · wall of toys · escape

Photographs by Jeremy Dennis unless otherwise stated