Meet Trap Toys, the Dudes Turning Rappers into Badass Action Figures
Ever wanted to see Eazy E melted down into a plastic figurine, complete with Action Man sized, heart-threatening muscles, guns, and tight y-front pants? Now you can.
Have you ever thought – while staring in appalled apathy at the unending rows of sinister Stretch Armstrongs in your local toy shop – how good it would be if someone melted Eazy E down into a plastic figurine, complete with Action Man sized, heart-threatening muscles, guns, and tight y-front pants, in a way that resembled the original 1980s He-Man? And called it Eazy-He?
Luckily for you, you strange and specific person, there are two men who have created exactly that plus other creations as ‘Spider ManDem’ and the Mario Bros recalling ‘Shaolin Chef’. The two guys (Tony and Adam) call themselves Trap Toys, and they’re one of the freshest collectives in the ever growing, addictive and obsessive world of individualised bootleg toys. From their exceptionally G’d-up Run The Jewels/Mutant Ninja Turtles mash-up to the Simpsons' themed Action Bronson, the duo consistently hit the mark with their slightly batshit and invariably entertaining pieces.
Now, I get what you’re thinking. Isn’t this stuff for nerds? Well, maybe. It certainly provokes the same devotion as an obsessive bibliophile searching for a first edition, or a vinyl junkie thumbing through stacks of dusty records in the back of a Croydon charity shop. But what was once a concern exclusively of the greasy Comic Book Guy-ish nerd underground is now a highly profitable online industry teetering on the verge of mainstream consciousness. So I called up Tony from Trap Toys for a quick chat about the business of adult men buying plastic figurines of their favourite rappers.
Noisey: Hey Tony. What provoked you to go so far in taking an idea you'd come up with after three pints and actually implementing it IRL?
Tony: I just loved toys and hip-hop. We’d just come up with an idea, buy the toy and start sculpting over it. The first one we did was Action Bronson. The idea came to me on the train one day, I just thought it would be cool to do a customised one-off of Bronson in the style of The Simpsons. I googled it and Bernard’s work came up. Rather than just biting his style, I hit him up to see if he’d be up for doing a collaboration. I made it for an exhibition and it ended up being super popular and went kind of viral.
How do you refine the concepts?
Sometimes we work with pre-existing illustrations. A good example is the Run the Jewels one, which came out nicely. We sent it to them and they retweeted it, which was cool. After that I started getting people hitting me up with requests, saying “Oh can you make one for me, can you make one for me?” There’s a whole scene of indie toy makers, mostly in America, though location doesn’t really matter with the internet and stuff. With that in mind I thought it would be cool to make editions to sell and shut people up a little bit, because I was just getting bombarded.
Do you worry you’ll get to a point where you’ve run out of superheros and rappers to mash together?
Sort of, but there’s always new rappers coming out, Fetty Wap and guys like that, you know? They’ve got their own distinctive character and you’ve just got to try and find a place for them. The only struggle for me is that I’m a bit older, like 30 or whatever. I grew up with classic 90’s hip-hop, so it can be a challenge in keeping super up-to-date with the hip-hop game. I don’t want to be one of these older generation heads sitting there saying, “Oh man, it was better in my day.”
What’s the most bizarre request you’ve had from fans?
Someone sent quite a good one: it was a Cam’Ron/Pink Panther mash-up, because he wears that big pink cape. I thought that would be quite cool. People do like to send in ideas, but I try to avoid them if I’m honest. It’s got to work on more levels than just being an immediate pun. A good example of that is Eazy-He, which the illustrator Dan Evans is working with us on. Eazy-E was around in the 80’s and so was He-Man so they co-existed anyway.
So there are rules to this?
Right. Things like colour schemes are important too – it has to look good as a product. These aren't really toys that you play with, we’re not that advanced in our craft like that. They’re meant to be showpieces, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look like you’d want to play with them.
Do you think there’s something inherently blokeish about the nerdiness of the concept? I saw you posted an analytics screen-grab on your Facebook, showing the split between male/female engagement with the caption: "Trap Toys: Sausauge Fest”.
Yeah, I suppose there might be. Not that loads of little girls don’t enjoy them too. But, for me, it harks back to what you grew up with and trying to hit those nostalgic buttons. The Simpsons one is really popular because there’s less of a split: girls and boys tend to like it equally. To be honest though, I was quite shocked when I saw that it was so male heavy. I ended up noticing it when I was writing out the notices on the packaging for postage: there were a lot of dudes. I don’t really care who buys our stuff, if I’m honest. But it’s also a reflection about hip-hop in the early 90s – it was a very male dominated sport at the time.
Lastly, if you were getting mugged in Catford, which one of your creations would you want turning up to sweep you to safety?
It would have to be Eazy-He, obviously. Have you seen Straight Outta Compton when he’s in the house with the shotgun? He’s your boy.
You can buy Trap Toys online here.