I never I’d give up toys...I did in the end but I still remember them fondly.
Here are ten toys, that have stuck in my mind.
Evil Kenevil was a must for any 80's kid, it came with a what I can only describe as a windy uppy red thing, some what similar to something you'd see on a shopping channel for slicing vegetables. You'd place Evil, I presume that was his real name . Would have liked to have been at that christening " we'd like to name him Evil" followed by gallons of holy water soaking the whole of the Kenevil family.
Anyway the bike and rider were revved up, Evil was then released to shoot/scoot/raz down any hard surface. Usually concrete scattered with ring pulls and White dog poo. (it was the 80s)
A favourite thing I used to like to do was get all my mates to lie on the floor and see how many kids Evil could jump, kids were the equivalent of buses. My mate John was always put on the end as he was a big lad and it always put an air of tension to the event.
Evil Kenevil was an amazing toy which brought a lot o joy to any young lad. I even bought one for my nephew when they rereleased it. It's amazing how different you see things as a kid, as an adult Evil Kenevil toy is a noisy bastard with a crappy bendy figure with a helmet that doesn't even fit properly!
Our house hold had this game, I would not be able to tell you how this was played as once it was set up we'd trigger it off then it was time for bed.
The green diver made a great addition to my Star Wars collection
"He's not in Star Wars" the kids would question.
"Yes he is, he's in the cantina scene playing slaps with Chewbaccas!"
This toy was usually brought into school on the last day of term a regular tradition in uk primary schools.
Kids (usually rich) would press buttons and navigate the vehicle through tables and chairs. Teachers would always be impressed by Big Trak
In the advert for Big Trak the kid would program BT to take an apple to his dad. Technology eh!
We had something better at home, it was called a dog , why push all those buttons to calculate moves when a simple " here boy, take it to dad" would suffice. Yes, there would be teeth marks, yes, the apple would have a hint of pedigree chum. But it was a whole lot simpler. Could Big Trak wag it's tail? Could Big Trak shake a paw? Would Big Trak move the family to tears when he was taken to the vets to be put down? The answer to all these questions is no.
4/ Girls World
"You never had a Girls World Okse!" I hear you cry.
No I didn't but my sister did. Girls World was a head and shoulders of a blonde girl, yes , you heard right and as you can see from the picture above she looked like the reminiscence of one of Jigsaw's victims. It was a toy for girls to apply make up on.
This was never the case, every Girls World I ever saw did not have make up lovingly applied but would be defaced with biro. Usually cobwebs , like a tattooed lady from a travelling freak show.
This toy stirred up feelings, the kind of feelings I used to get when I used to see Blondie's Debbie Harry on the Tv, you know "I want to kiss the telly but don't know why?" type of thing.
I used to kiss Girls World, was I weird doing so, maybe, but its the closest you get to snogging when you're five!
5/ The Golliwog
The Golliwog, one of the most controversial of toys back in the day made famous by Enid Blyton and Robertsons Jam.
Now for those of you who have never seen one of these its obviously a representation of a black person and that's why people aren't too keen on them, and rightly so, I think that if they'd have brought out Chinkywinky cuddly toys I probably would have felt the same. ( I’m half Chinese)
But I did own one of these, I was very young and he wasn't a representation of a black person , he was my friend.
My sisters used to get "Golly" (I was good at naming stuff) and throw him down the stairs, theyd run down to get him cradle him in their arms and shout up the stairs "Golly's dead!" to which I would belt down the stairs mortified shouting "NOOOooooo!"
How stupid was I? His eyes were always wide open there was no way he could have been dead.
Sisters are cruel!
6/ The Batmobile
This was one of favourite toys ever! it fired rockets, it had a big chopping blade at the front and came with two little figures you could remove , not only that, there was an ace picture of Batman at the bottom.
But as what happened with all of my toys stuff got broken, picture the scene its 1979, I'm there firing rockets, I remove the figures and get them acting out, unfortunately when Batman and Robin conversed they were always in the seating position, but that was cool we made do with what we had. I place Robin on the floor, then all of a sudden a big foot lands on him decapitating him. I was devastated, there was no way we were going to get that head back on, there was no super glue, we just had glue back then, and that was rubbish. I have never forgiven my God Father for that incident and wont until he gets me a new one.
7/ Action Man
Action Man also known as Gi Joe in the states was great , my dad used to tease me and call them Dollies, I used to hate it when he did that but I think it was his way of getting me to go off them so he didnt have to buy the accessories. Action Man was everything, scuba diver, space man , soldier , you name it Action man did it as long as it involved lots of testosterone, I mean you wouldnt catch action man dressed as an accountant or anything like that. if it involved guns and shit, Action man was well up for it! And besides they probably wouldn't hire him as of the big gash on his face he was hardcore.
Early Action man was nekid but later went on to don blue pants. The naked version was pretty weird, now I didn't expect him to have a cock and balls but he did have this crazy big "U" on his crotch, was this meant to represent his peen? I have no clue but I always found it confusing. See below.
The makers of Action man decided to up the stakes , how could they make the number one toy better, karate action, new accessories? "Nah, lets give him eyes that move left and right by moving a switch"
Yes, it made him look dodgy, but we loved it, I think subconsciously it helped us cross the roads "Look left and right, of course, Action Man does that"
His hands were great for chewing on too.
Action man was cool, though I never liked bearded Action Man, he always reminded me of one of my dads a scary mates.
8/The Space Hopper
Most kids had one of these they have come back and have been branded "Retro", the design confused me. What is it? is it a lion ?
My sister bought me one of these for Christmas but unfortunately someone else bought me some pencils, my Space Hopper didn't even make it outside. My sister was gutted as she hadn't bought just for me she wanted a go too.
Space Hopper RIP
Stretch Armstrong was not only a cool toy but it allowed you to exercise your arms, if you watched the advert you'd see how the kids would get him and stretch him straight away with ease, this was a lie! They forgot to miss out the bit where you had to sit him in hot water for ten minutes to let the ooze within him soften up, but once this was done you were away!...Woohoo stretchy, stretchy.
He came with a set of blue pants ( I think him and Action Man Shop at the same place) so you could probably remove them for a giggle.
That's about it, stretching and removing underwear was all this toy could do.
Me, I had an Incredible Hulk version.
What did that do? Well you could stretch him, then remove his purple trousers.
I got The Hulk on my birthday, I also got some pencils. I don't need to say anymore on this.
Mr Frosty was amazing, you placed the ice in the top of his head, you turned the handle gently and piles of ice would fall into the cup , then you would add your favourite flavouring (applied with Percy Penguin) to the ice, you'd pass the cups to your friends and they would laugh and joke as they were refreshed by Mr Frosty on a hot summers day.
Rubbish! That's what were led to believe according to the advert. I never had one of these and never had the intention of buying one, if I wanted a slush puppy I'd pop to Martins News Agent in Stourbridge and probably pick u[p some Return of The Jedi stickers while I was there.
Joes Mum had always wanted one of these as a little girl but for some reason her mum never got round to buying one, so being the good boyfriend I was, I bought her one. kind of like a romantic gesture, but with me secretly wanting to chow down on that icy goodness.
Ice cubes, check, Percy Penguin, check. cups, check, we were ready to go! Joes mum put the cubes in, now all I would need to do was to turn the handle. I did, nothing happened! I turned it again nothing, "Ah, I just need to apply a bit of pressure to his hat. that'll work.
I turn the handle again, nothing. I look into the cup to see a few drips of water and a couple of shavings of ice in the cup. I look to see how this is supposed to work, basically it's just a metal tube with some cheese grater holes!
We call in Joes Mums sister, now we have two people pushing down, while I crank the handle on this mofo , we're all getting hot and flustered, this isnt a drinks maker it's and exercise machine all we needed was to bring Stretch Armstrong in and we've have our very own toy gym for a full body work out, we did this for about ten minutes and you know what we got at the end?
Joes mum was like "What about Percy Penguin?" I was like "F**k Percy Penguin!
Well there you go ten toys in no particular order. Please feel free to comment below, what was your favourite toy?
It's the 24th of June 2016 , I awake to find that we have left the EU, I read articles about it and I see those 12 stars on a blue background , I think to myself " we're not going to be a part of that anymore , let's take our star down". I wanted to make a statement as an artist it's important for me to do that amongst the sea of icons and cartoons I create. So at 8 ish in the morning I got my iPad and started to draw a man in Union Jack overalls on a ladder holding a bucket and erasing one of the stars.
I posted it up on Instagram , It got likes, it got viewed hashtags used #eureferendum #brexit #art
It wasn't a finished piece , it was a preliminary a piece that was mine a piece that I could go back to when we finally left.
It was an emotional time for our country, the youngsters concerned about their futures and the elderly voting out because there were hundreds of coaches of foreigners coming to claim benefits , take our jobs and steal our recycling bins.
We put it to the back of our minds and carried on as a nation.
So I wake up one day (May 2017) and check my social networks and see an article on the latest Banksy piece, a wall in Dover using the same concept as mine re the EU
This piece was "created" on the side of a building owned by the Godden Family who are property developers in the Kent area. They have had dealings with Banksy before they tried to sell a Banksy in Folkestone three years earlier and lost a high court battle as they were tenets of the building rather than freeholders .
The Godden family intend to sell this artwork for 1 million and give the money to charities in the area, this is all well and good, but I've got an Mot coming up very soon, plus I'd like some credit.
But Okse , why do you think Banksy copied your idea and what are the similarities?
1/ bloke is on ladder
2 / bloke is wearing overalls
3/ bloke is getting rid of star.
4/ bloke is using a bucket (even though he is chiselling)
5/ hashtags #eureferendum #brexit #art
6/ it's a bloody good idea.
Now I don't know how Banksy works nowadays , is he still a single person walking round town pretending to be drunk with pizza boxes with stencils on the underside to avoid police intervention, or has he got minions a la Damien Hurst putting ideas forward? Maybe this could have happened.
I've tried to contact him by email three times with all my concerns but have heard nothing back, you could say I've been blanksied.
Here's the email I sent:
" Dear Banksy,
Hello you, hope you're keeping well.
My name is Chris Oxenbury aka Okse (pronounced Oxy, used to spell it O-x-y until they brought out that spot cream...then discovered "Okse" means "vomit" in Estonia )
Anyway I'm a Black Country artist based in Leamington Spa and I'd like to let you know I recently saw a piece you'd done in Dover and it is very much like mine that I did 24th June 2016 the day the referendum results came in.
Here is a link please check the dates and feel free to have a gander at my other stuff.
I think it's very cool that you and I have had the same idea and it saddens me that I won't be able to create this piece now on canvas as I will be accused of Banksy plagiarism and then I'd have to be all like having to explain that I did it ages ago.
I was going to create it once we'd left properly.
I won't be able to make anything from it, I'm not doing too bad as an artist but I'm still starving and still trying to get my name out there. I've read that the owners of the building are going to sell it for a million! And I'm finding it hard to pay my council tax! :)
Anyway I'd love to have a chat with you about it, maybe you could give us a bell and you could put a cloth over the mouth piece like they do in the movies.
All the best
So there you go , a non confrontational email, keeping it sweet , keeping it friendly.
I've spoke to other artists , some have been like shout it from the rooftops, some have been like, "just leave it". Also I've had "You can't sue him , you've got no money" (that was my mum)
So the internet is powerful and I'm going to use it, I'm not being deluded, I came up with the concept first, and I'm not lying , I've got proof.
So if you're reading this and you want to spread the word for me
Just post the following image on your social networks if you ever see a Banksy article or tweet this article about. I'd really appreciate it and when I get massive I'll doodle on serviettes for you to auction off.
Use the hashtags
Thank you x
if you're press and you'd like to chat further about stuff please drop me a line at email@example.com
and please feel free to browse my site whilst you're here to see what I'm all about.
When I was little one , I loved to draw and doodle my own little characters , I remember making my own little identikits, various noses , eyes , mouths and heads all made from bits of paper crudely cut out.
Characters would have the nose of Tintin with the eyes of Dennis the Menace and a chin like Bananaman (please feel free to Google these characters if you have no idea) I was able to mix these up. Not only did it help me create these funny little cartoons it helped me learn about how cartoon characters were made.
Years later (round about now ) I was chatting to my good pal Chuck and his wife Julia about creating characters within fonts.
So I started to create the Oksdingtings Cartoon Character font pack a series of bits and pieces which allows you to make your own little characters in a hand drawn style.
I started with the heads and then the bodies , then my own font using my own hand writing, props and then finally voice bubbles.
As I was creating them I was taken back to my childhood but without the having to cut paper and without The A-Team playing in the background ( the one with Mr T, yes I am that old) .
I've made the pack available on the shop for all to use at the intro price of £24.99 .
I'll be adding more bonus packs on the store as it grows.
I hope you like the Oksdingtings and that you have a lot of fun with them , be you young or old.
If you create something funny please feel free to post them on your social networks using the hashtag #oksdingtings.
Dear Eleanor Smith (Newly-elected Wolverhampton South West MP) ,
I am writing this open letter to you regarding The Black Country Flag design.
In my opinion I find it very distasteful that you brand the flag with racist connotations , you do realise this was created by a 12 year old girl Gracie Sheppard? She took elements of The Black Country and brought it together in a brilliant design. So let's break it down for you, the chains represent the chain makers a big part of our history, something we were known for yes, chains were used to keep slaves in shackles and yes, this is unfortunate but do you really think that was going through Gracie's head as she was designing this? No, because she was a 12 year old girl.
If you're worried about chains and what they represent in history take off the jewellery round your neck.
Gracie cleverly took a quote from Elihu Burret in 1862 “black by day and red by night” this was said because in the day furnaces would churn out smoke covering the area with soot and then in the night they would keep on burning giving The Black Country a glow. Gracie even added the Redhouse Glass cone, because we're known for our glass blowing skills .
The design is well balanced , but no you're concerned about and to quote you "The white on black imagery " nobody uses language like that if you pointed to a zebra and asked me " what colour is that ?" I'd say it's black and white !
Coventry is a prime example of how they used black and white in their designs , the two tone movement that represented blacks and whites coming together to make wonderful music and giving up fighting and uniting , not white on black , or black on white. Black and White. Equals.
So let's wrap this letter up....I think it's a shame that you think the flag has racist connotations , I think it very sad that you refused to pose with the flag, a flag that represents The Black Country and it's people , the people who you are representing.
But the thing that annoys me the most and it really, really annoys me is you have taken away a proud moment for Gracie Sheppard a young girl who probably ran back home from school excited to inform her parents that she'd won a competition and you have tried to tarnish her design.
I hope you take in what I've said , I'm not trying to be confrontational , The world is a shitty place at the moment , we don't have to make everything a race issue especially in something where there isn't one. we all need to unite and be as one. As the great Bob Marley said One love.
And to Gracie if you're reading this well done bab, it's a bostin design and I hope you are successful in everything that you do.
Ps. And if you think that I'm coming from this as white person who knows nothing about race. I'm not , half Chinese , half English , brought up in the Black Country and proud of where I am from. I also know a bit about design too.
Pps, Eleanor , please pop to The Black Country Museum , you could learn quite a bit...their chips are really good too... oh and the suck.
Express and star
To read what prompted this open letter please go here.