Post-Modern Playtime: The Harry Potter Lego Computer Game Sticker Collection



Something I was struggling to get my head around was Lego Harry Potter computer game stickers. A bizarre mutant merging of two mega brands that spans FIVE cultural genres. The toy equivalent of chemically-intensified junk food, some young kids are addicted to these stickers.

Based on a series of successful children's books that were made into films, we have actors playing fictional characters who have then been turned into Lego figurines, transformed into a computer game, and then finally rolled out into a series of stickers. The stickers then go back into a book.

If J.K. Rowling wants to make children's brains around the globe explode, what she should do next is write a Harry Potter book in which there are characters who collect them.

But honestly, I'm glad I'm not a parent of young children right now because their kids must be bombarded by this cross-promo shit which is very cleverly designed. And it's expensive too. But then perhaps tomorrow's generation need this kind of intense post-modern playtime to prepare them for the "brand" new world they're growing up into?

With Lego Harry Potter stickers you have an extremely intense and very clever hybrid of several things that kids love. I've tried to fathom it out below, if only for my own mental clarity and sanity...

First of all kids love adventurous story books. Always have done.


Something else kids have always liked is building blocks.


None of these photos are mine. That table is disgusting. But this photo did bring back tactile physical memories, in my finger tips, of those smoothly glossed, slightly dusty, yellow slopey triangle bricks. My child minder's place had a set just like this. I remember how the yellow slopes would slide off each other perilously. And it used to really frustrate me how the two base ends of the orange bridge piece didn't correspond with anything perfectly, they had to go on pillars that would then stick out a bit. Painful.

So if we're talking books.... Harry Potter was a very successful and very clever children's book. It's an advanced and superbly-written series that draws heavily upon most of the other bestsellers within its own genre, like Tolkien. C.S.Lewis, Enid Blyton and Jill Murphy.


And if we're talking blocks... Lego is a hugely popular brand of toy building blocks that offers a more interesting experience than your traditional wooden shapes.


Over time Lego became more detailed and advanced. My childhood took place at a Lego crossover-stage, so we had stuff like this with some detail appearing, but no collaborative branding:


I think I used to have a crush on that one. I remember his face. Such a lovely, intelligent, helpful smile. A space man too. Good salary. Probably in my mum's attic right now, all taped up. Hot.

And so over time kids showed a preference for the characters and details within Lego, and not so much the basic BORING blocks. That's why Lego started releasing things like this series called Minifgures:


I'm sure a large chunk of their market is also insular teenagers, nerds and nostalgic adults. But yeah. Forget the bricks. Lego's main vein becomes this pop culture brand built around the Lego man icon.

MEANWHILE. Harry Potter had become a hit string of films...


And so over at Lego HQ, the decision was made to collaborate with the Harry Potter franchise to produce some Harry Potter themed Lego.

They'd already done this with other popular subjects like Star Wars and it worked well.


That's a photo of Lego Hogwarts, the witchcraft and wizardry school from Harry Potter. (Like I said, none of these images are mine. That horrid table certainly isn't mine, and my calendar is far more sordid than that one over there)

By this point the Harry Potter films had also been turned into a computer game...


The decision was then made to create a computer game of the Harry Potter Lego series...



This is the bit where you need to suspend logic. The characters have the attributes of Lego men, yet they don't need them, because they no longer need to be attached to Lego structures.

The characters are still the characters from J.K.Rowling's books, but they look more like their on-screen personae, as played by various actors, more than they look like the characters described prosaically in the books.

You can see elements of the actress Emma Watson playing the literary character Hermione Granger, squashed into a cartoon version of a Lego figurine.



She holds her wand using the classic circular grip of a Lego character, even though she doesn't need a hand like that because she is now a computer game character (or in this case, a still illustration of one).

But let's not be iconoclastic. She does need a hand like that because she is "Lego".

The game looks like this when played...


Quite camp.

So we've touched upon three major areas within kids entertainment, building blocks, computer games and story books. But there's something else kids have always enjoyed...

The popular notions of hoarding, expanding and working towards acquiring all of something. That's right. Kids love collecting.

And a popular item to collect is stickers. They're dirt cheap to make and affordable to all.

I used to collect these at primary school...


I can still hear the phrases "Got. Got. Got. Got." and "Swap Shop" to this day.

Also, when you look at Grindr (the GPS sex app for men who enjoy sex with men) Merlin's Premier League sticker collections were really very ahead of their time...


With Merlin's Premier League stickers you were essentially collecting, grooming, feeling and looking at a portfolio of athletic men in their prime. Smiling at you.

In fact it was the first time I came across this guy...


Oh Vinny.

Looking at these stickers online just now gave me a real head rush, and I was taken straight back to the world of 6-year-old me who collected them fanatically. The little Tupperware box in which I kept repeats that I could swap, and my little folded up list of footballers who I still needed. Longed for.

If it wasn't footballers, the other thing that you could collect was Spice Girls stickers. In fact, now that I think about it, did Merlin Stickers make me gay? No. Everyone collected them. Because sticker collecting is addictive.

But let's not forget Lego's Merlin:

He was a catch.

I'm confusing you now, but yeah, collecting stickers is BIG BUSINESS if you're a toy manufacturer.

So...

... what better to put on a sticker than a Lego Harry Potter character!



Not only do you have classic Lego iconography, like that Quidditch balls chest (which is basically the pirate treasure chest from mid-90s Lego) but you have the captivating story of Harry Potter in here too.

You also have the film franchise (Professor McGonagall is essentially a Lego Maggie Smith). And you have a few familiar items from the computer game series too. It's all here, in a colourful, smooth-to-the-touch, collectible sticker.

There's even one that looks like Caitlin Moran:


And then for kids who want to really indulge in the sticker side of things, Lego / Harry Potter brought out this complete book which has a lexicon of them all:


So this product above - what is it?

It is a book based on a sticker collection based on a computer game based on a Lego series based on a film based on a book.

Andy Warhol would shit himself.


I think I nearly get it.

Top 10 Rising Female Pop Stars of 2013



Someone I follow on Twitter called David Ames just shared this illustration above from a Vogue feature called "Dirrty Pop - Women of Pop Music". The illustration showcases 10 musical fat cats of the pop music industry. I was about to write a confused blog post about how the 10 women in it don't represent the music scene today (aka Why is Cher there and not Nicki Minaj or Robyn?) when somebody informed me that it's actually a fake Vogue feature, made by digital artist Merlito Pabatao.

So instead, I embarked upon my own MUCH MORE INTERESTING AND HARDER TO RESEARCH feature, and compiled this Top 10 list for you of young females in the margins of pop music right now but who are currently on the rise:


1. Sky Ferreira

Born in 1992, absolutely beautiful and half-raised by Michael Jackson's household staff. Sky landed on the pop map as a teenager briefly and then disappeared again. Her song 'Everything Is Embarrasing' came out at the end of last year and is superb. Produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, it's a great sound and the video is also incredible, directed by Grant Singer. Sky is going to be the face of YSL later this year.



2. Charli XCX

Also born in 1992, English singer Charli first cropped up on the scene in 2008. Her debut album finally comes out next month. There was a cool feature about her in 1883 magazine which you can see here.



3. D E N A

Try researching a pop star whose name is four spaced-apart capital letters. Part of the Kitsune scene in France, D E N A is a cool post-M.I.A. contemporary of Kreayshawn and her stuff is catchy, such as this song 'Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools'.



4. Kimbra

Making her name as a featured vocalist on Gotye's overly-successful hit 'Somebody I Used to Know', the striking and leggy New Zealander known as Kimbra has been performing from the age of 10. Her hit 'Cameo Lover' went largely unnoticed last year but is a fantastic piece of pop music that sounds like the centrepiece of a Broadway smash.



5. Martina Sorbara

Better known as Dragonette, Canadian singer-songwriter Martina has had a large electro following for years now. Her first solo album came out in 1998, she's worked with Jian Ghomeshi, and she sang on Basement Jaxx's 2006 hit 'Take Me Back To Your House'. I love Dragonette's alternative Christmas single 'Merry Xmas (Says Your Text Message)'. See her at her best on this track 'Pick Up The Phone'. Hopefully Dragonette's long overdue mainstream recognition will come any day now.



6. Koda Kumi

Following Gangham Style mania, the music press has started giving Asian pop music more attention. The K-Pop scene has several stars to offer but one massive star in J-Pop who has a good chance of tipping the Gangham apple cart this year is Koda Kumi. Her vicious brand of electro pop is reminiscent of Fedde Le Grand, Benny Benassi and the early-noughties electro scene which is coming back into fashion again (I'm looking at you 'Scream And Shout'). The first few seconds of the video below are silent by the way. Try listening to this song without standing up, tossing your hair and kicking something over.




7. Yolandi Visser

One half of South African duo Die Antwoorld, Yolandi caused a pop stir last year when she turned up the lucrative offer of supporting Lady Gaga on a world tour, snubbing Gaga's music as "complete shit". The singer is also a critically-acclaimed artist, political activist in South Africa and she has a daughter called Sixteen.


8. Solange

Ooh, a controversially corporate choice. Beyonce's little sister Solange is becoming impossible to ignore. After her Diana Ross sounding tune 'I Decided' it was unclear where Solange's career would go, having to tread on eggshells in the shadow of her impossibly successful big sister. Then she released this totally sexy and refreshing single 'Losing You', a gospel-funk infusion that somehow manages to sound like Madonna's 'Like A Prayer' and Underworld on a good day, and with this incredible video...




9. Elizabeth Harper


The lead singer of band Class Actress, a popular New York synthpop act who only formed about four years ago. 'Keep You' was the lead single of their 2011 album Rapprocher and the video featured archive footage of the 1960s film Anna. Hopefully Elizabeth will be singing some new material for us very soon. A very heavy, very welcome, 80s sound.


10. Z Berg


She's the singer of indie super group JJamz, which includes James from Maroon 5 and Alex from Phantom Planet. Their song 'Heartbeat' found itself a mass audience last autumn when MySpace used it for their comeback promo teaser video. And Z Berg is the last girl on my list!


Who else should have been on this list? Let me know on Twitter @jackcullenuk.

Or leave a comment below, as if anyone does things like that these days.

Previous blog post: 100 Photos of G-A-Y Late



100 PHOTOS OF G-A-Y LATE



G-A-Y Late is the place to go on a Sunday night in gay London. Members only, tourists and newbies must be signed in by a member or join a queue to enrol (only a couple of quid and doesn't take that long).

First things first. a hazy view of Centre Point and the cross rail site from the queue:


I own all of these snaps, so feel free to save or share them etc. We're only on this planet for a few years, I've  got better things to do than get uptight over photos. However, if one is of you and you want it taken down just let me know and I'll get the spray paint out. Right, let's go:

A glamourous female reveller clutches a fresh round of drinks:


Tranny superstar, fashion icon and DJ extraordinaire Lady Lloyd arrives, having wrapped up her Sunday night residency at KU Klub on Lisle Street:


Lady Lloyd and friend:

Another familiar face from the tranny star circuit in London, it's party girl Silva and journo pal Dylan B Jones:


Starships:

 Taking on the never ending thirst of London's gay community, it's Eduardo pulling the pumps behind the bar:

Lady Lloyd with another man:

And again:

Australian hardcore clubber Shaun takes to the dancefloor, sending Christmas jumpers flying:


Dancing the night away:


Waiting for answers that might never come. Note Lloyd looking suspicious in background:


In case you forget:


Surprisingly stylish:


If the toilets in G-A-Y Late had FourSquare,Lady Lloyd would be the lady mayor:



Oops:

Silva storming out of the bogs:


Jessie J gives it her all via the medium of ten plasma screens:


A boy celebrates his 21st birthday. Or is it a ploy for free drinks? We'll never know:


The podium beings to fill itself slowly:


Vanity Von Glow arrives, having wrapped up her Sunday night residency at Green Carnation:


Them:

This girl was cool:


January means nothing to some:


Hey:

Cramping his lesbian friend's style:


Boys on the back bench:

Dancing on the seats isn't allowed so you have a maximum of fifteen seconds to make your point:


Yep:


Ooh Silva:

 Looking for Dalston:

Smoking area cuties:

They were Columbian:

Another member of the Late team:


Lloyd and Vanity conspire:

More Starships:





A splash of East London:

And a splash of Lloyd's drink:

Vanity marks out her patch:

Sexy guy in green t-shirt:

Downton Abbey chic:


 Notice hot boy alone on bench:

And you've missed your chance:

Them:

And the kissing begins:


Topless barman Deano, a G-A-Y Late favourite and collector of novelty belts:


Abandoned:

Sunglasses always work:


But his eyes were amazing, so we made him pose again with whoever:



Cute flankers:

Lloyd still at it:

Taking a breather:



Rita Ora:


Celesbians clutching wine:

Gangham Style:

Hot:



Taking a disco nap:

Vanity re-emerges out of drag, aka, sexy scenester Thom Glow:


Lloyd collects her thoughts:

Imagining this one without the jeans:


Cool girl's back for more:

Straight possibly?

Shaun caught in a moment:


Discussing Obama:

Are they fruit machine technicians or?


Love is in the air:

Lloyd makes a toast:


Sloshed:

Dylan B Jones and Thom Glow:

Them:


Thom takes a lick:



MARY. Bathroom attendant Mary is an institution in herself and has a sizeable cult following in the London gay community. She really should write her memoirs:


Stacked:

Table football bag lady:

Mary's range of products:

Cute straight boy. There's always one:





Closing minutes:

Time to move in for the kill:


Silva plans her finale:




Gaga gives it one more attempt:


Lucy. That astonishingly rare thing of a friendly, intelligent and very reasonable bouncer:


Lucy's called outside. There's some drama:


"Take a photo of him so we can remember his face, he's barred" said the other bouncer, pointing at this striped blazer mess:



Closing time:

Farewell kisses:

Polite handshakes:

The End.

Follow me on Twitter @jackcullenuk