By now, most people are pretty familiar with HOMIES, the 2-inch high barrio figurines that are vended from gumball machines in most urban areas. My supermarket has been carrying them alongside reflective WWE stickers for a long time now. (i think they're already at series 4 or 5) The figures are pretty amazing. Clutching paper bags filled with 40s, chilling in wheelchairs, or just being obese, they get closer to what actual urban kids look like than the product of any series of multi-million dollar focus groups funded by Brian Grazer can ever hope to. And they were all designed by one guy, whose name I haven't bothered to research.
Last night I went to see the film, Roger Dodger. (a movie that made me almost cry tears of joy at its visual looseness and precision dialogue.) It was playing in a large arthouse theater that just reopened in Manhattan earlier this year. (or late last year?) The theater is also screening the Seinfeld documentary, Comedian, a movie I would also recommend to anyone curious about how totally degrading stand-up comedy can be as a profession - for both the comic and the audience. In the lobby I found these vending machines that professed to contain "Documentary Action Figures". The vending display was designed to mimic the Homies backdrop, but the drawings and plasticine figures were all based on characters from Comedian. I thought it was pretty fantastic. Imagine having a Gary Shandling or Colin Quinn figurine, and then making them fuck. (and why wouldn't you?) I couldn't resist, and shared $1.50 with then vending machine. In return, it gave me a Seinfeld and Robert Klein small enough to crush in my hand. Aren't they adorable?
By the way, in searching out that link for HOMIES, I discovered how many great things you can stick inside vending machines. Look - SUPERBALLS! Also, I had no idea how many things you could stuff inside plastic capsules. Check it out - Homies Clowns. Makes perfect sense. Of course, if your mom's on welfare (or you're just super-corny) you can always get the slightly more affordable Hipsters, the inevitable knock-off of Homies. (please take special note of the use of red, gold, and green in the logo to connote down-ness, as well as a very familiar neighborhood fixture located in the bottom-right of this image - the bare-chested barbarian carrying dumbells.)