Aside from window shopping in Kid Robot and involuntarily caressing all the smooth plastic surfaces on anything not inside a display case, I don’t have much experience with America’s designer toy craze. According to Paul Budnitz – a seminal figure in bringing the art-cum-action-figures stateside – in 2001, stylized vinyl figures and plush dolls from Asia started trickling into the country. Just a few years later, a fully-fledged US subculture developed including talented artists and collectors with disposable income.
I couldn’t find any hard evidence, but I’m thinking Domo is one this fashion’s major progenitors. The furry love child of a pillowcase and Smokey the Bear was conceived in 1998 as mascot to Japanese television station NHK and became an instant popular icon, spawning TV appearances, fan clubs, and licensed products. If you look at some designer toys today, especially those cute-but-not-cute Uglydolls, you can see Domo’s far-reaching influence.
And now, just like his offspring, Domo’s stateside. While a Nickelodeon series has apparently been put on ice, Big Tent Entertainment and video-sharing site, Veoh have partnered up for a 12-episode series starring the little
guy girl thing.
###Here’s a primer on what Domo’s all about:
“Domo was hatched from an egg, that one day mysteriously fell into the home of a wise, elderly rabbit named Usajii. Domo loves watching television (obviously) and named himself after the first word he ever heard on TV which can mean either ‘hello,’ thank you,’ ‘excuse me,’ ‘sorry’ and ‘goodbye’. Domo also enjoys drinking tea, listening to garage band music and sinking his sharp teeth into seasoned beef with potatoes.”
It’s cute in a Saturday-Morning-Cartoon and claymation-is-always-cool kinda way, but clearly meant for more of a Wubbcast set. It lacks the gratuitous violence present in Pib and Pog that would make it more attractive to older generations, though there are still some winks to those with a reading level post 6th grade. It’s also produced well enough where the fantastic animation and ridiculous situations can be enjoyed by all.
Find the episodes and some of Domo’s Japanese commercial clips over on Veoh.