Buckle up as we take you through a brief history 6 phases of of Gorillaz’ toy releases
For some, Stuart “2D” Pot, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs, and Noodle are characters from the minds of songwriter Damon Albarn (former lead singer of Blur) and illustrator Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of Tank Girl comics).
To the internet, the Gorillaz are a virtual sensation that has produced provocative music featuring diverse artists for over two decades. In that time, they’ve released their music and lore in six named phases. Let’s celebrate the six phases of the Gorillaz by looking at six figures that bring the digital icons into reality.
The license to make 2D into 3D has been passed between studios, starting with Art Asylum‘s never-released-exclusives, to Kidrobot‘s multiple successful lines, and most recently, SUPERPLASTIC‘s revitalization of the band. Unfortunately, that means Gorillaz figures only officially exist in designs from phases one, two, and five, but we won’t let that stop us!
Phase 1: Celebrity Take Down (1997-2003) — Zombie Gorilla
Phase 1: Celebrity Take Down (1997-2003) was the band’s initial triumph, with their self-titled album and the song “Clint Eastwood” becoming international hits. Hewlett’s outstanding designs came to life in the song’s music video on early 2000s MTV and YouTube. It was a boon that kickstarted the band’s cult following. Their plight with a pack of zombie gorillas is why the Art Aslyum prototype, Zombie Gorilla, wins the first feature today!
At the 2002 American Toy Fair, the first Gorillaz prototypes and this mean fella were displayed with a promisingly distinctive box. Unfortunately, that’s where the story ends for Art Aslyum’s prototypes. The Unofficial Gorillaz Wiki states that the band prototypes are now owned by a private collector, while the ape is on display in Hewlett’s office.
Phase 2: Slowboat to Hades (2003–2007) — Two Tone Murdoc
Murdoc from Kidrobot’s Two Tone series takes our pick for phase two! It’s dark edgy design matches the Gorillaz sound
During Phase 2: Slowboat to Hades (2003–2007), the Kidrobot ended up making five different series for their rotocast soft vinyl toys of the band. The phase one figures were the Red and Black series with a special Noodle variant for the Dare music video.
Phase two figures came in the CYMK, White, and Two Tone series (all named after the boxes art, not the figures). What they lack in height compared to phase one figures, they make up for with more instrument kibble and detailed outfits.
Phase 3: Escape to Plastic Beach (2008–2013) — Four Meters of Plastic Beach
Phase 3: Escape to Plastic Beach (2008–2013) expands the Gorillaz world’s magical realism with characters like the Boogieman, to Cyborg Noodle, and Giant Russell. On top of it all, the Gorillaz headquarters are built on the biggest trash pile in the middle of the ocean, which Murdoc dubs “Plastic Beach” after spray painting it pink.
This makes our Phase 3 pick the 4m tall model made by Asylum Models & Effects and Zombie Flesh Eaters for the album art. Unfortunately, phase three never came to its full fruition after the budget ran out.
Phase Four: We Are Still Humanz (2013–2018) — New 2D’s Spotlight
A seven year hiatus after phase three eroded many fan hopes, but Phase Four: We Are Still Humanz (2013–2018) started a Gorillaz renaissance as the first of three new phases, and three album releases within the three years to come.
Their fifth studio album, Humanz, boldly approaches the future with an experimental sound. For the beacon of hope this electropop album represented, we choose the latest 2D figure!
This figure was the first to be made in the ongoing SUPERPLASTIC x Gorillaz partnership. The band’s lanky frontman stands at 12 inches tall with LED eyes. This figure was released in phase five, but we’ll let it stand in for the earlier phase four. It’s the first time in a long time we’ve seen 2D as, well, ‘human.’
Phase 5: The Now Now (2018-2019) — Happy Russell Returns
After 2D, the rest of the band is returning as toys as well! Our pick for phase five is Russell — the laconic drummer is smiling, happy to be playing with his bandmates again in the return of their figures. His three-piece drum kit sports early album art as an homage to phase two.
An intriguing part of phase five is the absence of Murdoc while he’s imprisoned. The band hires a replacement bassist, Ace Copular. And yes, he is confirmed to be the same Ace that heads the villainous Gangreen Gang in the Powerpuff Girls. Why? Who cares! While SUPERPLASTIC decided to create the popular Murdoc instead, we can rely on independent artist to come up with a custom bootleg of the cross-dimensional stand-in!
Phase 6: Song Machine (2019-???) — Lucky Chrome Noodle
With the full band of Phase 5 figures still in pre-order stages, it might be too early to wish for phase six figures to be released. As a lucky charm, we’re picking a one-of-a-kind figure: Chrome Noodle from Kidrobot wins phase six!
This is purportedly a rejected prototype and photos only surfaced when an old Kidrobot employee posted the lucky rare Chrome Noodle for online auction. Whether this rumored figure is real or a painted DARE Noodle, we hope this golden charm will bring us good luck with more official figures!
Those are six Gorillaz rare and awesome figures for each of their six phases! For a band that started when adding ‘z’ to the end of words was edgy and fresh, the Gorillaz have grown in countless ways besides their designs.
Aptly dubbed “the most successful virtual band,” we followed these characters through all corners of the internet, from social media to music videos and games, and this article has only scratched the surface! Go freshen up on their lore and let us know your favorite fact!