Fashion label Black Milk have produced a line of Star Wars themed leggings and swimsuits. Why is this interesting? They initially released R2D2 and C3PO swimsuits without permission from George Lucas, so to have returned with a full line of legitimate merchandise means they must have impressed the Dark Lord. I have no idea how…
First Contact with Galactaron
Girl meets synth-rock band from Outer Space; animated weirdness ensues. Well, that’s the elevator pitch, anyway. See for yourself:
Galactaron were dreamt up as an art/music project by Owen Dennis, a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation, and are comprised of Singer (centre right), Bass (bottom left), Guitar (centre left), Synth (right), Drums (top left) and their human friend Emily Wong:
The virtual band have a presence across Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, SoundCloud and iTunes, with each platform offering new information and imagery to enrich Galactaron’s back story:
Drawn by radio waves, Galactaron focused in on Earth and they traveled a great distance to learn about us. When they finally reached our planet, they landed their massive, red, egg-shaped ship on a frozen lake in the upper Midwest of the America. There they met Emily Wong, a young Chinese-American woman who lives with her father. Emily quickly befriended Galactaron and decided to give them a personalized tour of planet Earth. That’s when they started to discover what earth is, what humans are, and what we have to offer.
It’s an admirable project: the band have a truly unique sound, a strong visual identity, a cool backstory, and they’ve even sold a few albums.
Their creator shows real ingenuity, having formed a small yet growing community around snippets of content such as cosmic ring-tones; science-themed status updates; user-contributed artwork; merchandise and not forgetting the music itself.
But despite being an excellent case study in transmedia storytelling, their single ‘First Contact’ has reached a surprisingly low 20,000 plays on YouTube, and far fewer elsewhere. Mission aborted? Or as I suspect, are their thrusters still warming up?
Yo Gabba Gabba
If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, I’d urge you to get to grips with Yo Gabba Gabba, which is a sensationally well-conceived kids show from the US that’s been running for about four years:
Yo Gabba Gabba is the creation of W!ldbrain Entertainment, who have to be one of the coolest multimedia companies I’ve encountered. Based in LA and NYC, these guys make TV shows, films, adverts and merchandise, and have partnerships in place with Nickelodeon and Disney.
They also own Kidrobot, which has a strong line in collectible vinyl toys, clothes and art. So it won’t come as a surprise that Yo Gabba Gabba is centred around five toys:
- Muno (he’s tall and friendly)
- Foofa (she’s pink and happy)
- Brobee (the little green one)
- Toodee (she likes to have fun)
- Plex (a magic robot)
The characters are brought to life at the beginning of each show by their owner DJ Lance Rock:
As well as being an educational and visually stimulating show, I think it’s a great example of how content powers commerce, with W!ldbrain capitalising on the strength of their creation through “apparel, accessories, books, electronics, games, home décor and toys, available at retail through top licensees”, including their Kidrobot stores (clever, huh?), “Spin Master, Ltd., Simon & Schuster, Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment, Nickelodeon/Sony BMG and others” (thanks Wikipedia).
This kind of integrated commercial thinking takes true advantage of today’s twisted media landscape, subverting pre-existing norms of content creation and ownership.
For example, a recurring musical segment in the show features The Aquabats, a superhero-themed rock band fronted by the show’s creator. The Aquabats have now been awarded their own W!ldbrain-produced TV show – so it’s evident these guys are all about through-the-line thinking.
What a modern company – W!ldbrain, I salute you.