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Interview - Raymond Scott's Centennial Vinyl Action Figure

Urban Vinyl Toys: MISP Steve - 2009.02.04
You are probably more familiar with Raymond Scott than you think. He was the composer for the music heard in hundreds of classic Warner Bros. cartoons. From Bugs Bunny to the Tasmanian Devil, it was his signature fast-paced, precision music style that defined a cartoon era. Its little wonder, Scott's 'Looney Tunes' are still among the most recognizable in pop history. More amazing, is Scott went on to become a pioneer of multi-track recording and electronic music that later would lead to work for the prestigious Motown records.

Now, 100 years after his birth, the world is just waking up to what a visionary Raymond Scott really was. With a Web site and 2 CD / Book release out, we could not think of a better way to commemorate Raymond Scott's life than with his very own Action Figure. Thanks to Jeff Winner and Presspop Gallery, you can get just that (see below). Toy News International had the opportunity to do an exclusive interview Jeff about Raymond Scott and the making of the making of Centennial Vinyl Action Figure that has just been released.



TNI: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with Raymond Scott.

Jeff: I'm a researcher, producer, writer, and music historian, specializing in early electronic instruments. I became involved with Raymond Scott's legacy in the mid-1990s when I started my site (RaymondScott.com), and began to produce CDs, write magazine features, do lectures at universities, contribute chapters to text books, and anything else I could do to spread the word about Scott's accomplishments.

TNI: Can you give our readers a little background on Raymond Scott and why he's such an important guy to popular culture?

Jeff: Raymond Scott was born 100 years ago, and he was a very successful star who had dozens of hit records during the jazz/swing/big-band heyday of the 1930s, and '40s. Throughout the the 1950s, millions saw him every week on the top-rated TV show, YOUR HIT PARADE. For 30 years Raymond Scott was a household name.

Like most other celebrities from that period, however, Raymond Scott's fame began to fade after Elvis and The Beatles came along. But thanks to Bugs Bunny, his music never went away; Scott's compositions were immortalized in hundreds of classic Warner Bros. cartoons. As a result, Scott's 'looney tunes' are still among the most recognizable in pop history.

His music was also kept alive during the 20th century through covers by a wide range of diverse artists, from Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, to rock bands like Rush and They Might Be Giants.

Scott was also an accomplished inventor who was awarded numerous US patents. He designed and built some of the world's earliest and most sophisticated synthesizers, drum-machines, sequencers, and multi-track tape recorders. And the recordings he made with his electronic instruments were decades ahead of their time; some of the music he made half a century ago sounds like it could have been made last week. He's become an influence on some of today's biggest music icons, like Gorillaz, Madlib, J.Dilla, and countless others.




TNI: Who's idea was it to make an 100th Anniversary action figure?

Jeff: An ambitious lady named Maki Hakui from the Japanese company Presspop contacted me 2 years ago and explained that, a few years earlier, they had made a toy set dedicated to synthesizer inventor Bob Moog (which I already knew), and that they would like to make a Raymond Scott set as the 2nd installment of their "Great Inventor" series. I was somewhat hesitant at first, but I liked the idea, and we began the long development process. And Maki was a joy to work with!


TNI: What were some of the challenges you experienced making a Raymond Scott toy?

Jeff: Making certain the structure of The Clavivox was correct, with all it's details, probably took the most time, and it required many revisions and re-sculpts. Also, things like the fade of Scott's crewcut, and getting his face to look 'just right' were also challenging.


TNI: The Clavivox accessory is too cool. Why that over say the Electronium or another of his inventions?

Jeff: Originally, the plan was to make an Electronium toy, but that eventually proved to be too complicated, large, and expensive to produce, so we settled on a Clavivox instead. Although, I should point out that there's a very cool illustration of the Motown version of the Electronium on the back of the box that is intended to be used as a backdrop for the Raymond Scott figure and Clavivox.

At some point, I suggested including a sound-chip inside the mini-Clavivox replica that would play an audio recording of Raymond Scott demonstrating the instrument, but unfortunately that proved to be impractical because the factory that makes Presspop's toys only does products with embedded audio if there's 100,000 units, or more, per run. So ultimately I decided to feature The Clavivox demonstration on the CD instead, where the sound-quality can be superior.




TNI: Can you tell us a little about who designed the packaging and the various cool stuffs included?

Jeff: The design was done by Archer Prewitt, known for his previous visual work with Presspop, and his musical projects such as the band The Coctails, and more recently, The Sea And Cake. Since I'm an expert on Raymond Scott and his inventions, I guided Prewitt's sketches and sculpts, but he deserves credit for the design, and I think he did a fantastic job with everything!

The exclusive CD that I compiled for this set was included because Maki requested it. It is unique in the sense that it's the first time Raymond Scott's 1930s 'cartoon jazz' is featured on the same collection with his electronic work. Plus I added 2 previously unreleased recordings from the Scott archives so it would be something special for his fans.


TNI: Is this a limited edition? How many were made?

Jeff: Yes, it's a very limited edition set; like the Bob Moog toy from Presspop, I think less than 1,500 were made.


TNI: Where can people get this the Raymond Scott 100th Anniversary Doll + CD Set?

Jeff: You can order from my site, here: http://RaymondScott.com/presspop


TNI: Will there be new Raymond Scott action figures?

Jeff: We don't have any plans for future figurines, presently, but I could be open to the possibility of more.


TNI: There is a movie being made about Raymond Scott?

Jeff: Yes, for the past several years there has been a documentary in the works by Scott's only son, Stan Warnow. I'm helping Stan co-produce his film. We've shot interviews with people like Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh (who now owns the Motown version of Scott's Electronium), and famous movie soundtrack composer John Williams, who is not only a Scott fan, but his dad was the drummer in the original 1930s Raymond Scott Quintette. More details about the upcoming doc here (top-left): http://RaymondScott.com/News.html


TNI: Where can people learn more about him now?

Jeff: Please check my site: http://RaymondScott.com for more info and future news updates. Thanks!


TNI: We'd like to thank Jeff for taking the time to speak with us about such a great man and now toy. Definitely check out Raymond Scott and all the amazing and innovative things he's done. Its not only highly entertaining, but educational too.

For those of you looking to purchase one of these toys, you can get them for $49 + shipping now at their Information / Order page.


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