We still can’t enjoy our favourite musicians on tour, but if you are a kid at heart like me with an active imagination, then you can simply take a tour of your room or living space and reenact the live experience.
How is that, exactly?
I’m a toy collector. Yes, on top of my music, comic book, video game, magazine, and trading card collections, my shelves also contain a strong sampling of toys or figurines that reflect my various interests in life. When it comes to music performance, it takes more than just performers. Musicians need an audience. While displaying a miniature of your chosen musical idol would be cool, why not give them some surrounding admirers? Whether you park your Transformers next to your Elvis Presley doll or position your Monster In My Pockets at the base of your Beatlemania shrine, toys are meant to be fun for any age, and what’s more fun than making it look like your toys are having as much fun as you would be having when you have fun?
My objective here is to not only show you more of my music-related collectibles, but to show how the manner in which I display them is inclusive of the several other interests that clutter my thoughts, occupy my time, and generally prevent me from becoming a more productive contributor to society at large. There are plenty of figurines and various toys based on some of my music heroes that I would love to own, but here I’ll only show what I’ve got and where I keep it.
McFarlane’s Metallica Harvesters of Sorrow figures
This is the logical place to begin because these are the music-based action figures that I’ve owned the longest. It took a while to complete the set because you couldn’t spot them in the stores too frequently, and they were out of my price range when they first came out in 2001. As you may have surmised from the song title from which this toy line took its name, they were based of the band’s image during the ..And Justice for All era. Being the bass player in the family, I received Jason Newsted as a gift one Christmas, and my guitarist twin brother received Kirk Hammett. Aside from matching the instruments we played, these two would likely have been the easiest ones to find at the time. I would have been happy with any of them that Christmas.
Jason and Kirk remained at home in the attic while we moved away for two years of university. Thankfully, they still looked great when we dug them out. I always loved these guys, but without the other two they felt incomplete. Several years later, a trip to one of my favourite comic book stores (Comic Alley Toys) led me to find Metallica’s most recognizable member: The Almighty Het! A few months after that, the same store had the figure of drummer Lars Ulrich (the group’s co-founder with James Hetfield) that included most of his drum set, and I used the opportunity to buy a Kirk of my own to complete the band. The guitar mine came with was missing the strap, but it still balances well in his hands. Each of the non-drumming Metallica musicians were originally packaged with with a small piece of the kit. I don’t have it in its entirety, but it’s more than enough to get the point across. Most notably is that when bought as a boxed set, there were two Tama bass drums that came along with the light-up stage accessories, but if purchased individually Lars was the only person to come with a bass drum. I’m not the biggest fan of how some of their faces appear versus their real counterparts (particularly Kirk and Lars), but their body sculpts and authentic-looking guitars make up for it.
Here’s how I’ve got it set up currently, with Lars bashing the skins with the band surrounding him. Well, the band, some Buck Rogers in the 25th Century characters, Daredevil, the infamous Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball franchise, and a Moe Howard doll from The Three Stooges as he appeared in the classic short “Three Little Pigskins” along with some others that are slightly out-of-frame. Jason’s headbanging mop of hair and James’ amped-up facial expression do wonders to imply that the boys are giving these onlookers one heck of a show!
NECA 18” Eddie figure (as seen on Iron Maiden’s Somewhere in Time)
Somewhere In Time has a special place in many Maiden fans’ hearts, but if I’m honest, I wouldn’t rank it too highly among their discography (at least not in my top-five). The album’s cover, on the other hand, is easily one of the finest that Derek Riggs created, right up there next to his work for Killers. Eddie is the most famous band mascot for a reason, and there should be little surprise that the demand for this character in any incarnation would be great enough to see him get produced in toy form.
This one came as a complete surprise to me one Christmas when I was in college. I’m going to assume my parents found this thing at a reduced price in a local store, possibly at the Sunrise Records in the Oshawa Centre before it closed down. The 18” size of the figure allows for some fine detail that truly does justice to this.. what is Eddie anyway? A demon? Zombie? Alien? He’s appeared to have been all these things, and more. Here he looks like some form of cyborg, with muscle mixing with mechanical components. I haven’t popped batteries in him in years, but when he is powered up his arm is able to raise and his eye glows. Even if mine no longer works for some reason, he nonetheless has an imposing presence. And don’t be too disheartened if you can’t obtain one of these for yourself. Eddies are available from several different manufacturers in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.
This figure dwarfs the rest of the toys that surround it much like Eddie would while marching across the stage in the middle of an Iron Maiden concert. Being a person on stilts in that context (sorry to burst your fantasy), I may need to imagine him differently seeing that no concert venue could easily contain such a mammoth. Perhaps the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles encountered another mutant in the sewers, or this outer-space Eddie has taken a few members of the Enterprise-D crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation hostage.
LEGO Lisa Simpson Minifigure
Yes, I’m going to include her among them. I would have counted my old Alvin and the Chipmunks figurines from Kentucky Fried Chicken too, but I can’t recall if my mom still has them at her house. I’d display them with pride, and accept no imitations, not even Melvin and the Squirrels.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. The Simpsons is a likely spot where several of us got some of our earliest exposure to jazz. Lisa’s encounters with saxophonist Bleeding Gums Murphy is among the most heartwarming storylines in the show’s existence, and the character provided some great highlights considering his relatively short list of appearances on the show. The flashback episode showing how Lisa obtained her cherished musical instrument embedded the word “saxamaphone” into the heads of countless Gen-Xers and millennials. Of course her particular saxophone can’t produce any notes, but as she would remind you, sometimes you have to listen to the notes she’s not playing.
I’d gladly integrate several more of the show’s characters with musical talents onto my shelf, but The Simpsons Lego Minifigures series was not nearly as expansive as fans would have liked. None exist of Otto the bus driver or music teacher Mr. Largo among others. They didn’t even make one for Seymour Skinner, and he was one of the original Be Sharps! Anyway, here she stands among a few other Springfield residents. Maybe she’s been hired by Mike Piazza, the Starting Lineup figure behind her, to perform his walk-up music.
NECA Iggy Pop figure
We’re back to NECA, but this time the scale is significantly smaller. While that may be the case, Iggy Pop’s energy and (dare I say) raw power often make him a larger-than-life entertainer. The detail on this one is hands-down the greatest of pretty much any figure in my collection, be it from music or not. Even if he had a shirt on (hey, it could happen!), that face alone shows a man that has lived life on the edge. It may seem unusual that they didn’t go with a younger version, but depicting him at a more advanced age is pretty punk-rock to me.
Not all is perfect with this figure, mind you. Iggy has the tendency to take stage-dives off my four-foot high CD shelf. There seems to be a sweet spot that you have to set up his stand so that he remains stable. I find it needs to be rotated so the bulk of the stand is behind him, and his ankle joint needs to be placed so he leans forward as much as possible. There really isn’t that much of a downside if he does happen to fall down. His arms and torso already sport a number of scars, so adding one more battle wound to the count isn’t going to make much difference.
There isn’t much with him in terms of accessories, but the microphone he holds can come out of his hands. Look below for the recreation of that memorable night where he passed the mic off to The Mummy to tackle a verse of “Lust For Life”.
NECA AC/DC Brian Johnson & Angus Young figures
If you look over Iggy’s left shoulder in the above photo, you may spot a familiar face. NECA does not have any lack of licensed properties, and AC/DC items can be found among their diverse collection of adult-aimed merchandise. Many consider the band to be over-played on classic rock radio, and I can’t argue against that, but when I listen to many of their records, I can’t help but love what I hear. Whether you go with one of their grittier albums of the Bon Scott days or a more polished effort from the Brian Johnson-fronted group, you’ll find handfuls of the deeper cuts can be as strong (or stronger) than the ones the radio runs into the ground.
These weren’t actually my first choice of AC/DC knickknack to buy for display. A store I frequent had the McFarlane Angus Young figure where he’s rocking out in his schoolboy costume underneath what can only be described as one of Hell’s Bells. I hesitated on making the purchase, and it was gone when I looked again the following week. Given what I soon found to substitute for it, some might consider it a blessing in disguise. Two members of AC/DC for the price of one? Sign me up! I saw these listing for a good price in a Kijiji ad, and my sister (who lives much closer to the seller) graciously picked them up for me. I think the McFarlane figure is still more eye-catching, but I was still very pleased to give this pair a home. Without the restriction of a large structure surrounding them, Angus Young and Brian Johnson are free to blend in with the crowd.
On that note, there are plenty of fellow plastic beings fortunate enough to be able to rock out alongside AC/DC’s most popular members. You’ve got Toronto Argonauts legend Doug Flutie in bobble-head form, twins Tomax and Xamot from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and what seem to be two very satisfied customers in Ren and Stimpy.
If their poses or attire look familiar, that’s because their likenesses are based off how they appeared in the “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” music video. Like with the Metallica figures, things aren’t exactly perfect. The branding on Brian’s shirt is missing, and Angus’s shorts aren’t as bright blue as they seem in the video, but they are still worthy of any fan’s collection. That shirtless state of Angus is what I dig about this one, implying the band is nearing the end of their set and have left their fans exhausted but hungry for an encore. An improvement would have been to make the pole coming off the stand made out of transparent plastic, otherwise it looks as if it is being inserted some place unpleasant. That could explain the anguished look on the diminutive guitarist’s face.
Funko Pop! Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic figurines
When I first learned of the Funko Pop! line of figurines, I didn’t see the attraction. I chalk that thinking up to their dark, soulless eyes and lack of distinctness between their faces. However, as more of them have been produced, I’ve spotted more that appeal to me. Their wide-spanning brand license has given them access to fictional and non-fictional people and characters that is a rarity in the collectibles industry. Their affordability also make them a convenient option as gifts. My Pop! collection is a rather small fraction of what is available, but a significant one-third of mine bare the likenesses of two icons in the music world. That said, Lemmy and Weird Al make for quite the contrast.
Lemmy, the man behind speed metal pioneers Motorhead, was a gift from my sister (the one that fetched Brian and Angus). His sunglasses are a welcome break from seeing the standard pair of eyeballs, the cigarette in his hand is a nice touch, and they didn’t skimp on the moles. His wardrobe appears to place him as he dressed in the latter portion of his career because I can’t recall him wearing that hat outside of this millennium. It would have been cool if he was wearing his signature Rickenbacker bass, but this model definitely captures his attitude in spades.
I’ve never had a balancing issue with Funko figures before, but Lemmy is a bit stubborn. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but much of the time he requires the assistance of hockey personality Don Cherry’s beloved dog Blue to stay upright. As expected, Special Agent Dale Cooper approves of his fortuitous positioning next to this heavy metal innovator.
A trip to the Mind Games store at the mall led to my encountering a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” deal, and that’s how Weird Al became my property. I was glad that they captured his early career look with the oversized glasses and wispy moustache since that was how I was introduced to him through his Bad Hair Day album. That was right at the end of that era just prior to his laser eye surgery and he had grown his hair out longer. The curly locks on Weird Al’s Funko figurine are somewhat shaggy, but not too long. I’d think they were aiming for his mid-to-late 1980’s here, roughly in Dare To Be Stupid through UHF territory. And what else could you possibly put in his hands but an accordion?
This Pop! figurine is an admitted weakling, preferring to hide behind protectors Captain Apollo of Battlestar Galactica and wrestler Razor Ramon (not the fake one, as far as I can tell) while trying to write a parody to the rhythm of Mario Lemieux’s sweet stick-handling moves.
NECA “Weird Al” Yankovic 8” poseable figure
Why can’t I have two Weird Als? Given that gigantic collections exist out there consisting entirely of Hello Kitty or.. (shudders) Furby dolls, I can be forgiven for a slight case of redundancy. I also ask for forgiveness for going back to the NECA well of goodies. It’s not like I asked for it, but was I ever delighted to receive it as a birthday gift from my sister (a different sister, not the AC/DC retriever).
The second Al I have is the only one of the lot that isn’t currently displayed at all. I can’t figure out where to put it as I didn’t want to part with the box, which I love in itself for the Rocko’s Modern Life / Nickelodeon cartoon-inspired graphics. It goes right in the spirit of his short-lived The Weird Al Show. If he did find a home on my shelf, I’d keep his modern-day head on his shoulders since the Funko reps the old-school. Options are great, and as the saying goes, two heads are better than one.
I really like toys of this style. The limbs and joints provide several degrees of freedom, and smooth fabric clothing breathes more life into him than plastic could otherwise. The ages 14 & up recommendation tells you that it is aimed for an older demographic. While a removable hand may be traumatizing to somebody south of that suggested range, us older toy fans might expect something of this nature from a man who once portrayed a medical professional with questionable qualifications and inevitable malpractice lawsuits.
That’s about all that my musical toy chest contains. Not that I’m looking for excuses to spend more money, but if you happen to know of any figurines of the nature above or those based on other musicians I may like, feel free to drop me a line.