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New action figure: Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix
McFarlane Toys brought its noted expertise to making the new Jimi Hendrix action figure.

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NEW YORK (Billboard) -- Since launching its line of music action figures in the late '90s with re-creations of Kiss band members, McFarlane Toys has immortalized some of the biggest acts in rock history.

The Beatles, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Jim Morrison, Jerry Garcia, Metallica and Janis Joplin have all been cast in plastic by the Arizona-based toymaker.

But the rights to a Jimi Hendrix figure -- the license that company head Todd McFarlane had sought the most -- proved elusive. Until now.

McFarlane finally got that green light from Experience Hendrix, the merchandise company run by the rock icon's half-sister, Janie Hendrix.

Now sharing shelf space with Hendrix's recordings at such chains as Tower and Virgin is a six-inch replica of the virtuoso modeled after his fabled appearance at Woodstock.

With his left hand flashing the peace sign and his right gripping the neck of his white, upside-down Stratocaster, the mini Hendrix sports a red bandanna, bell-bottom blue jeans and a white shirt with fringes.

McFarlane is selling the figure in two configurations and hopes to make additional Hendrix figures. The existing figure is sold alone or with a stage modeled after Hendrix's amp setup at Woodstock, where he delivered his famous, frayed version of "The Star Spangled Banner."

The standard figure retails for between $12 and $15. The deluxe version, which is also packaged with a miniature microphone and stand, stage base and effects pedals, goes for about $20.

With some of the figures, such as his set of Metallica re-creations, McFarlane says he likes to immortalize a certain time in the artist's career.

With others, like Osbourne, McFarlane looks to capture a popular image of the singer. In Osbourne's case, the metal god was made to look evil and ferocious, akin to his pre-"Osbournes" image. (The figure was created prior to the launch of the artist's reality show.)

"We're sort of looking to go, 'Yeah, that's what I have when I close my eyes and think about these people,' " he says.

His Hendrix figure seems to be a combination of both: The artist is captured in his Woodstock garb, but he's not generally remembered for flashing the peace sign -- it is usually for such stunts as setting his guitar on fire or playing it with his teeth.

But for Janie, the mix was perfect.

"I thought it was great. I was like, 'Wow, they really got it,' " she says.

And that was a relief, because through the years, concern that manufacturers might not get Hendrix's facial features right was one of the reasons she resisted McFarlane's proposal.

Hendrix estate has not done many three-dimensional products, the main exception being a porcelain mini-Hendrix made by the Franklin Mint.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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