That Boyz II Men Concord and tux Grammy footage and imagery keeps on eluding me. Can somebody send me it and put me out of my misery. Does it even exist? The closest I ever found was the shot of Jodeci standing with Tempest Bledsoe from The Cosby Show wearing the white outfits and Jordan XIs from the March ’96 ‘Coast 2 Coast’ section of The Source. This was a time before Jojo was fainting onstage and Dalvin was plummeting off them.
Back in the day, my dad and I were pretty obsessed with Alien — ever since he described a Chestburster to me as a toddler, I was transfixed. If I’d had access to Alien action figures (and I’m not talking about those crappy 1990s Aliens things with the flying Alien Queens and other such foolishness) from Kenner, it would have been game over — crappy Star Wars figures like Lobot and Snaggletooth would have perished with the quickness. But I never even knew plans had ever been afoot for Alien toys back in 1979 until I got talking to geeks who knew more than me and saw them in a 1995 magazine, by which time I was too old for such things. The closest I’ve come to the 12″ Kenner Alien action figure (which, according to legend was created with the license holders under the impression that it was going to be more of a science fiction extravaganza than a claustrophobic horror film) was the Medicom mini-replica, but I’ve always wanted the scrapped series of smaller Star Wars size action figures that never left prototype stage, because, quite understandably, the 12″ Alien terrified kids and sold poorly.
In one of the most nerd-friendly resurrections ever, the ReAction brand — a subsidiary of Super7 (who I know little about, other than they always seem to have monster figures in every Juxtapoz ever) — have obtained the Alien license and obtained either the prototypes or good quality photographs (apart from one figure which only seems to exist in the same shot I saw in 1995) and finally made those unreleased figures of Ripley, Ash, Dallas, Kane in that strange spacesuit and the “Big Chap” alien. If you want more geekery, they even recruited the lady who designed the original packaging for Kenner and this project back in the day to create the packaging for this release and created fake prototype figures in the blue of the fabled Boba Fett missile firing prototype (cancelled after a child choked to death on a Battlestar Galactica toy), created backdrops, bags and boxes that homage Kenner’s Star Wars Early Bird package from 1977 and even made a fake press release that deliberately plays on the misconception that all the figures will be the best of friends. It’s one of the greatest parts of my childhood that never was and you can read more about the ReAction releases right here. Is their resurrections of shelved toys a work-in-progress? I’m interested to see what comes next. This is a superior lesson in absurd attention-to-detail.
PhoneShop is a patchy show in terms of plotting, but Ashley and Jerwayne’s dialogue is a dead-on snapshot of the inadvertent strangeness of Croydon and Sutton’s slang-speaking denizens. The shoulder bags alone are more amusing than anything Simon Brodkin has conjured up in his appalling Lee Nelson character — a performance by a man who seems to have only ever seen a young person in EastEnders once, four years ago during a plot where Fatboy steals a parrot from a magician or some such shit. After a weak third series, PhoneShop redeemed itself with the ultimate parody of UK road rap, with its sloppy metaphors, shushing backgrounders and slo-mo delivery.
It might even be the best rap parody I’ve ever seen — from that obligatory Taliban mention to the threats to sleep with your missus, it captures a subculture that’s doomed never to crossover without heavy compromise and it’s actually better than all UK rap, because our take on rap in 2013 is either JD Sports garms and bandana waving in the hood, Boxpark fodder that’s all murals, shitty streetwear brands and beatboxing, chart stuff that’s just a novelty record that won’t fuck off (because careers seem to be sustained by imbeciles and social media) or it’s practiced by people who look like they steal lead off of church roofs and like to engage in terrible rap battles that are mostly AIDS jokes in front of a crowd of excitable people in Supreme Being sweatshirts. Westwood was always right to ditch our own produce in favour of DMX and Diplomats and I hope that this sketch stops people making UK rap forever.