Brutal Truth Toys

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With their feet mired in a puddle of smooth plastic and their guns perpetually cocked, green army men have been a toy-box staple for decades. Sadistic youth might burn off the soldiers’ legs, arms, and faces with a magnifying glass, while other troops would lose appendages to the family Labrador. The little green men molded by U.K.-based artist collective Dorothy, however, come packaged with their limbs already blown off. One of them holds his rifle to his own throat.

“Dorothy clearly isn’t afraid to offend,” writes art magazine Hi-Fructose (Vol. 20), “but the group never loses its sense of mischievous wit, either.”

Another subversive “toy” made by the collective looks like a snow globe enclosing the four cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Instead of snowflakes floating through the globe when it is shaken, black ash rains down upon an industrial landscape. These are cheekily dubbed “No Globes.”

“Dorothy wants to make us laugh,” Hi-Fructose argues, “but when the message gets heavier, the group knows only too well that the joke won’t last.”

Have something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the January-February 2012 issue of Utne Reader.

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