For better or for worse, they don’t make movie/TV/pop culture merch like they used to. There are a ton of options if you want physical representations of the media you love—action figures, trading cards, and such—that are all pretty high quality. Gone are the days of cheap action figures all made from the same mold with different paint jobs. And frankly, there’s admittedly always been something charming about these low-quality figures. Artist Dano Brown agrees with that, and his “*Some Assembly Required” series of vintage-style action figures perfectly scratches that itch.
Brown made figures for classic media franchises like Bloodsport, Dumb and Dumber, Dr. Mario, The Joy Of Painting with Bob Ross, and plenty of others, and they’re pretty hilarious. The Donny Kerabatsos from The Big Lebowski figure is the “Funeral Edition,” meaning it’s just a can of coffee. The Dr. Mario one, meanwhile, is clearly just a generic action figure with white clothes and a mustache. Brown’s work perfectly captures the charm of the era it honors, delightful warts and all.
Brown shares the following artist statement about the collection:
“I’ve always created art in one form or another as far back as I can remember. It’s something that has always made me happy. The only other hobby I’ve had for just as long is collecting. Since I was small I’ve always collected something. Baseball cards, lighters, records, cheap watches, etc, etc. The thing I’ve collected the longest and the most passionately has been vintage Nintendo games. Specifically NES-era games. I’m currently only missing 3 games to complete the entire North American catalogue. As I got closer and closer to having them all, I found it was increasingly difficult and expensive to acquire games I needed so I started branching out. I bought Nintendo magazines, books, watches, pencils, folders, and just about anything else you could think of.
A few years ago I came across some vintage style Nintendo action figures online that I had never seen even though I was sure I’d seen it all at that point. I immediately bought all of them. When they arrived, I recognized some of the faces as old GI Joe’s I had as a kid. I realized that they were actually a bunch of old toys Frankensteined together to look like something new. I immediately became obsessed with trying to create my own. After a lot of trial and error and some helpful advice from the guy who sold me the figures that inspired me, I made my first figure. With the Photoshop skills I had from previous projects, I was able to make some pretty convincing packaging for my toy. I made it for myself but when I shared it on social media I had a shocking amount of interest in it. After that I was hooked. I’m just trying to create any and every action figure that I feel deserves to be made but never was.”
These figures earned the spotlight at the Los Angeles-based art gallery iam8bit on July 25, and you can actually get your hands on a couple of these masterpieces if you’re quick enough! Otherwise, you can check out more from the collection on Dano Brown’s Instagram. Which is your favorite of Brown’s action figures? Let us know what you think down in the comments!
Images: Dano Brown/iam8bit