Ozzy, Misfits, Master P Dolls Storm Toy Market

Rock and rap action figures being immortalized in plastic; rap mogul Master P plans whole line of them.

NEW YORK -- Ken and Barbie get out of town. G.I. Joe lay down your weapon. Small Soldiers hit the road.

Ozzy's here. And he's got company.

"It is a fantasy," joked rock 'n' roll survivor and thin man Ozzy Osbourne as he stood next to a mock-up of the muscled action figure depicting his likeness during a press conference Monday.

If the music, T-shirts, stickers and posters of such big-name artists as Ozzy Osbourne, Master P, Kiss and the even the Misfits isn't enough to satisfy your cravings as a fan, rock 'n' roll merchandisers are busy designing what may amount to the latest craze -- rock and rap artist action figures.

They're plastic. They look mean. And, man, are they buff. When they hit the market, they'll cost between $25 and $30. To some practitioners of rock 'n' roll and hip-hop, action figures and dolls -- like those that have captured children's and collector's imaginations for decades -- are an exciting new way to reach their fans.

And, in the case of rapper Master P and heavy metal king Osbourne, at least, they are an exciting and potentially lucrative new form of marketing.

On Monday, Osbourne came dressed in an all-black outfit with two large golden-cross necklaces dangling around his chest. His plastic counterpart, which will be available in stores this May, wore a cape and leather pants draped with chains and held a wooden cross.

True to the Ozzy Osbourne legend, the doll will even come with headless doves and bats. But Osbourne may soon have some competition for the title of most demonic action figure on store shelves.

On Tuesday, the Misfits, the veteran theatric rockers from the New York area, unveiled their own line of dolls. These were less of a stretch; the 12" figures were designed as exact replicas, right down to the piece of tape that holds guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein's forward-leaning ponytail in place.

"Toys are dreams to kids," said Misfits bassist Jerry Only, in full costume as he and the band celebrated the unveiling. "We had dreams when were kids. This was one of our dreams."

The first two Misfits dolls, designs of brothers and original members Only and Von Frankenstein, will be released around Halloween, according to Scott Allen, the vice president of 21st Century Toys, the manufacturers of the set. Designs of drummer Dr. Chud and singer Michael Graves, he said, should be ready by early next year.

Meanwhile, rap impresario and No Limit records chief Master P (born Percy Miller), apparently not satisfied to settle for a doll in his likeness, has started his own toy company, No Limit Toys. He plans to flood stores with dolls of his label's artists and a remote-control army-style tank to hold them all.

After all, soldiers need their vehicle.

The No Limit venture follows the successful first run of the talking Master P doll this past Christmas. Betsy Bolte, a publicist for the label, said 6,500 dolls sold within days of being shipped. The doll features the rapper in army fatigues, sunglasses and a gold chain. When the consumer squeezes the toy, it lets out the trademark "Uuuuuggghhh!!! Na, na, na, na."

"The fans are so loyal. They really do want anything connected to No Limit," Bolte said.

Andrew Au, a spokesman for the Toy Manufacturers of America, which this week held its annual American International Toy Fair in New York, said he believes the dolls are an extension of the music industry's desire to market their artists. "It really depends if there's a demand out there," Au said. "If those figures are popular in the music scene, then chances are the dolls will sell."

In the Misfits' case, Only, 39, said the band's act, which is based on the horror films of the 1950s and on the concepts of darkness and mystery, lends itself to merchandising. Only took the opportunity to distribute Misfits T-shirts to the crowd gathered at the Toy Fair Tuesday.

"The American public kind of likes the bad guy a little bit, too," he said. "So we have that bad guy kind of appeal."

Todd McFarlane, the designer of the Ozzy Osbourne doll, said that the stereotype of Osbourne as a madman gave him all the inspiration he needed.

"You close your eyes and go, 'Yeah, he's that psycho f--- that, like, bites the heads off bats," McFarlane said at Monday's press conference. "You have to convey all those things because we -- as the fans -- we want Ozzy to be that guy, right?

Osbourne -- who's long worked as a solo artist -- returned to his original band, Black Sabbath, in 1997. Out of that came the live album Reunion, with its stage version of the protest track "War Pigs" (RealAudio excerpt of live version).

McFarlane, the creator of the Spawn comic book and television series, also designed the re-released Kiss action figures last year. The Psycho Circus set showed the makeup-clad band members as characters built around the concept of a fantasy circus.

Au attributed the push to create more action figures to the success of that series.

The designers of the Osbourne and Misfits set were cautious, however, to point out that the dolls will need to sell before any discussions of how to expand the lines can begin. Allen said the push to bring the Frankenstein and Only dolls to market might cost the California-based company as much as $250,000.

"We live in a capitalistic society," McFarlane said. "If nobody buys this, that fails to justify even more [production]. The response from different retailers so far has been very positive."

If the doll, as well as a mock biography of Osbourne done in comic book form by McFarlane, sell well, more products will come, they said.

To that, Osbourne could barely contain his blustery sense of humor.

"I'm looking forward to the alcoholic one coming out," remarked a long-sober Osbourne.

Master P, though, is disregarding caution.

No Limit Toys plans to ship 50,000 Master P dolls in April. From there, it will release action figures for labelmates Snoop Dogg, Silkk The Shocker, C-Murder, Mystikal and Mia-X, Bolte said

"It makes so much sense to me," she explained. "Why not dolls?"