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Bad Robot; Good Toy

by Zach Oat August 4, 2008 12:37 pm
Bad Robot; Good Toy

In the consumer culture we inhabit, company spokesmen have long been elevated to the equal status alongside their legitimate cartoon and comic-book brethren. Captain Crunch, Ronald McDonald and the football-playing Fox Sports Robot are among the corporate shills who have been immortalized as action figures, hanging on racks alongside G.I. Joe and Spongebob for nostalgic reasons, kitsch factor or sheer coolness of design alone. And I think that's awesome. But we are about to enter a new age: the age of the TV production company mascot toy.

At San Diego Comic-Con, TV producer J.J. Abrams unveiled his new figurine of Bad Robot, who pops up at the end of Lost, Alias and Fringe as the icon of Bad Robot Productions. He's always been a fun-looking character, but who in their wildest dreams would ever imagine he'd get a toy? There are plenty of fans out there who love Abrams' oeuvre as much as they love the specific shows he's created, and it got us thinking -- what other cartoon characters lurking in the closing credits would make cool collectibles?

Top of the list would most certainly be Mutant Enemy Productions' enemy mutant, a.k.a. the "Grr, Argh" monster who stalks across the screen at the end of every Joss Whedon production. If Buffyphiles, Fireflygirls and Dollhousers won't snap up a collectible that celebrates Whedon's Whedonesque genius, I don't know who will. Robot Chicken's Stoopid Monkey character (symbol of Seth Green and Matt Senreich's eponymous production company) could inspire a whole line of toys, with the monkey on the verge of a dozen different self-inflicted deaths. (On a side note, Robot Chicken once showed us more of the world Whedon's enemy mutant lived in. I smell playsets.)

For its obscure Jaws reference alone, a case could be made for the poorly haberdashed Harry of Bryan Singer's Bad Hat Harry Productions, who is berated at the end of every episode of House. And I would personally pay cash money for a toy of Burn Notice's Flying Glass of Milk, for both my love of Burn Notice and my passion for milk.

This is not a trend that could have started before now. Because while there are tons of kitschy, animated production company mascots today, they get less common the further back you go. In fact, the closest one I could come up with was UBU Productions' classic black Labrador, Ubu, who closed episodes of Family Ties. But unless it had a sound chip that played "Sit, Ubu, Sit! Good dog!" it would just be a plastic dog with a frisbee.

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