Gorillaz News: Sunday, August 4, 2019

WOW! What a week it’s been for news!

New this week:

Guggimon and SuperPlastic

On Thursday, the fandom caught wind of an apparent Gorillaz toy coming our way when Guggimon (a new “synthetic superstar” created by designer toy company SuperPlastic) commented to a fan on Instagram:

After the comment above was posted, glz_news reports speaking to Guggimon on Instagram, who revealed that the project is “top secret,” but fans should be expecting something early 2020.

You can actually find a Guggimon figure for pre-sale on SuperPlastic’s website, sporting a Phase 1 Gorillaz patch on his vest:

While the design of this is very cool, fans were initially concerned that this was the supposed toy Guggimon was referencing. This is just a subtle nod to Gorillaz and a teaser for what’s to come…

It was discovered on Saturday that Karsen Woods, Senior Creative Coordinator at SuperPlastic, conducted an interview with Connor Cyrus of Vermont-based WCAX-TV about SuperPlastic’s new virtual celebrities. The interview is apparently supposed to air on Tuesday.

However, in the background, you can clearly see a 2D prototype, designed after his appearance in Tranz (sans the white eyes):

So, it looks like we should be getting an amazingly detailed (and tall!) 2D figure by 2020. It’s unknown whether we’ll see the others in toy form, although Guggimon did reference that we’d be getting a singular “toy.” On the other hand, somebody shared a text with Huck Gee, director of Art and Production at SuperPlastic shows that he says “Gorillaz vinyls.”

SuperPlastic has been pretty responsive to fan messages, and while they’re not saying much, they are making it pretty clear we’re getting something very cool soon. SuperPlastic is a new startup launched by Paul Budnitz who also happens to be the founder of  Kidrobot, the same people who did both the Phase 1 and 2 Gorillaz figures.

The Rise of the Synthetic Celebrity

SuperPlastic is not just a designer toy company, it’s also a digital agency for virtual characters like Guggimon, and his partner in crime Janky. They’re the latest wave of “avastars,” virtual celebrities on social media. This article by TechCrunch (which actually mentions Gorillaz as one of the first to experiment with virtual celebrities) says that a lot of investor $$$ is currently being poured into making these virtual influencers a reality — in fact, SuperPlastic raised $10 Million to turn Guggimon and Janky into Instagram stars.

Per the TechCrunch article:

It’s all an effort to test whether audiences are ready to embrace even more virtual avatars…

The investors backing these companies say it’s the rise of a new kind of studio system — one that’s independent of the personalities and scandals that have defined a generation of Vine, YouTube and Instagram  stars — and it’s attracting serious venture dollars.

In 2019 and 2020 we’re going to see a lot of these… we’re going to see a lot of people putting out a lot of stuff.

Given the rising popularity and interest in this movement, I can’t help but think Gorillaz are a good candidate for this sort of thing. Of course, this is just my speculation, so please take it with a grain of salt. But what if this is what Jamie meant when he said something much bigger was coming? “Daily, snackable” Gorillaz bytes. The advantage to these new kinds of media stars is that they provide animated storytelling for a fraction of time and cost opposed to traditional animation. That being said, Gorillaz can’t completely give up animation, and I don’t think Jamie would ever want to. However, Gorillaz are known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing technology to create experiences that feel authentic. Bringing Gorillaz up a notch to “avastardom” would certainly be buzz-worthy and exciting.

SuperPlastic are obviously cutting-edge toy designers, and the choice to work with them makes a lot of sense. However, is the only purpose of the collaboration to make toys? Or perhaps more?

Toys, Toys, and more TOYS!

I had posted these wonderful, imaginary Funko Pop figures by @gimenezsafi to my Instagram account on Thursday in lieu of the Gorillaz toy news:

However, I didn’t realize that there had been other imagined Funko figures, including one by an actual designer at Funko:

Or these, by Robert E. Castro:

While Gorillaz Funkos seem pretty unlikely at this point, especially with the knowledge of another toy coming out, it’s still fun to imagine what they could look like. It turns out there is actually somebody who sells custom Gorillaz Funkos on Etsy:

And speaking of custom Gorillaz figures on Etsy, Brandon Fragua is currently doing a giveaway for his custom Ace figure. To win, share the post below, tag another Gorillaz lover, and use the hashtag #brandonsthebest. I believe a winner will be drawn on Wednesday of the coming week.

See You at Maydeup Fest

On Friday, Gorillaz officially tweeted for the first time since the Webby awards to announce their fictional Maydeup Festival, which was really just a fun way of releasing BRAND NEW G-mixes:

Hilariously, the faux festival takes place at Area 51, per the coordinates on the poster. Also hilariously, Death Grips is listed twice, but unfortunately I think it was a typo as the band’s marketer tweeted out a corrected version later. I initially thought it was a joke, since many ‘rillaz fans seem to really REALLY like Death Grips.

The poster features a picture of Russ’ old hip hop machine which hasn’t been referenced since Phase 2.

Each band member has a new Spotify playlist, the 11th set in their G-Mixes. It’s clear that something will be announced soon; Gorillaz tends to slowly release content to keep fans excited before dropping big news.

Listen to the 4 playlists on Spotify:

Search for a Star Entries Resurfaced

Shane from Gorillaz for Beginners once again got his hands on promotional material from 2005: a Betacam video of the Search for a Star entries.

Search for a Star was a talent contest that Gorillaz ran during Phase 2 to look for new collaborators. Although it says this is a TV news piece, it looks like this is literally footage of navigating the 2006 website:

Nice to see these again after all these years! Especially Motorcycle Bitch. 😉

Little Simz Covers Feel Good Inc.

This past Thursday, Little Simz appeared on Like a Version – a segment of Australian radio station Triple J – doing a cover of Feel Good Inc!

Gorillaz Tribute at PA’s Resonance Fest

Murdoc hates Gorillaz tribute bands. However, he’ll have to live with the fact that the jamtronica band Papadosio will be doing a rare set in honor of Gorillaz at their annual Resonance Music Festival this September. The fest takes place at Cooper’s Lake, PA from Sept. 19-22. See here for more information!

Fanart Faves

Some really standout pieces this week!

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