A month or so ago, my brother had a profound urge to send me a surprise gift package in the mail. “Have you checked your mailbox?” he kept asking. I finally got it and found out that he’d desperately wanted to send me this little guy. See, I’m a huge Devo fan, and McDonald’s had just put out a Happy Meal toy (in conjunction with, eccch, American Idol) that wore the Devo hat, had a jumpsuit, and even wore Devo-esque New Wave sunglasses. And when you move his little microphone arm, he kind of plays a Freedom of Choice type song for a few seconds.
“Nifty!” I thought, but didn’t exactly put it on the record shelf next to my other Devo collectibles. After all, it was a McDonald’s toy–and I don’t want my friends to think I support American Idol! Instead, I left it at work on top of my cubicle wall for all my lame coworkers to see, because I don’t care what they think.
Well, now it appears that Devo gave no permission for McDonald’s to use their iconic hat (which Gerard Casale himself invented–and you have to admit it’s a snazzy and original design somewhere between a Mayan pyramid and the Guggenheim museum). Though named “New Wave Nigel” (perhaps by a creative XTC fan in the toy design department?), the toy is clearly Devo through and through, not an homage but a deliberate knock-off, and an unlicensed one.
In the days when I was sick, Pitchfork Media among others scooped me on this: Devo are gonna sue ol’ Ronald’s saggy pants right off him. According to Gerard Casale (before his lawyer told him to shut up):
This New Wave Nigel doll that they’ve created is just a complete Devo rip-off and the red hat is exactly the red hat that I designed, and it’s copyrighted and trademarked. We’re in the midst of suing them.This New Wave Nigel doll that they’ve created is just a complete Devo rip-off and the red hat is exactly the red hat that I designed, and it’s copyrighted and trademarked.
They didn’t ask us anything. Plus, we don’t like McDonald’s, and we don’t like American Idol, so we’re doubly offended.
Kudos, Devo friends! I love you and hate McDonald’s, so this is a win-win situation for me–and that’ll go double in a couple years, when I hawk this thing on eBay!
P.S. Photo stolen from a Flickr account owned by a guy named “©★®|★π♥ƒƒ“–thanks dude!