Rob Flowers’ studio is a pretty nuts place – if you go, you’ll see how much of an influence it has on his bright, colourful and trippy work. At the back of the room, he has a few decades worth of toys; from hand-carved African toys, to Romanian folk masks (that look like characters from the Muppets), to an army of old McDonalds Happy Meal figures.
We asked him to pick out his favourite toys from the collection, and why he likes them…
Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior Water Squirters
I’m a big WWF fan (1980s to early 90s that is) & I HH & UW are my second and fourth favourite wrestlers (Jake the Snake Roberts is my favourite & The Undertaker is my third), I collect a lot of WWF memorabilia & was stoked to add these to my collection.
They are produced by Native American craftsmen, carved from a single piece of cottonwood. In Hopi & Pueblo culture, a Kachina represents the spirit that lives in everything in the natural world, from the sun and stars to wolves and bears & even squashes! They are powerful beings who can bring rain, health, protection & babies. As well as carving Kachina figures, masked members of tribes dress up as Kachina for religious ceremonies.
The are over 400 different types of Kachina, and the dolls representing them of are often given to young girls & new brides. There are even clowns in the Kachina culture, who entertain & amuse the audiences. Kachina can have brothers & sisters, parents and grandparents and may even marry & have children!
1973 Milton Bradley Officer Big Mac puppet
One of my main collecting passions is McDonald’s merchandising from their heyday of the early 1970s – late 1980s. McDonaldland was created to advertise the restaurant & featured the first appearances of characters like The Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Captain Crook & The Grimace. I’ve been after one of these puppets for years & finally got one late last year.
Selection of Madballs
What’s not to love about Madballs? The designs rule & the 80s wave of gross out toys is one of my favourite trends in toy history. i don’t have the complete set but I’m working towards it!
Cannibal Fuckface Sofubi by Monster Worship
Prison Pit by Johnny Ryan is one my favourite comic book series of recent years. I’ve got a couple of figures that MW produced from the books & whilst I don’t usually get new figures the sculpt on this is amazing.
Original King Ken figure by Amos
I picked up this awesome James Jarvis figure when I was at university. obviously JJ’s stuff rules so I was super happy to get one. They go for around £500 boxed these days but unfortunately I dropped in on the day I bought it & broke so of his toenails off!
Mr Bumper by STRANGEco
Jim Woodring is one of my favourite artists working today & this figure is one of my favourites in my collection.
Unnamed Dime Store figures
I picked these figures up on my first trip to New York about 10 years ago. I have no idea what they’re from (one of them had a head a bit like Ultraman). Sadly, I’ve forgotten where the Dime Store was so I’ve not been able to go back & see what other treasures they’ve got.
Unkerich the Toad by Salamander shoes
Salamander are a German shoe company who created a whole cast of animal characters in the late 1930s. This huge figure (he’s around 18 inches) is one on my favourties because his got a belt, boots & a cap on but now trousers or shirt.
Wacky Melon pull toy
This toy from 1965 is consistently one of my favourites in my collection. Hehas moving watermelon slice wings and eyes that bulge in and out & he rules.
Cheers Rob! Go buy something from his webshop, ask if you can get it off him in person, and maybe he’ll let you have a look…