The inaugural release of FPE Records is Raffie and Foppie, a pair of little record dolls with adorable hats and limbs in the shape of an X. Raffie and Foppie are for everyone who has always wanted to hug a record, but was worried they would scratch it, or get scratched, or get fingerprints on it. Hug all you want! Raffie and Foppie love hugs!
Raffie and Foppie were designed by Ron Regé Jr. You might know about Ron from last year's Cartoon Utopia on Fantagraphics. He's also released a comic on an ale bottle and designed collectible vinyl dolls. He's got a tumblr where he posts his brilliant doodles, detritus, and backlog of illustrations for the New York Times, Canada's National Post, and others.
FPE Records (the FPE stands for For Practically Everyone) was launched in 2012 with a mission to increase the amount of beauty in the world, and a commitment that records on vinyl are the most beautiful thing there is (at least as far as things that people can make). Raffie and Foppie are FPE's first release: vinyl's ambassadors to the world.
The music in the video up there is by FPE artists Chicago Q Ensemble and Zigtebra. Raffie and Foppie, as FPE's mascots, are going to help make artists like this successful at creating their own brand of beauty.
Raffie and Foppie look like records, but they're dolls. And yet, a record label is releasing them. FPE isn't just any record label, though. We are giving vinyl records the royal treatment in the 21st Century. We firmly believe that records:
Are a simple, easy-to-use technology
Enable a prolonged, intense engagement with music and visual art
Offer a repeatable experience that can be a definitive artistic statement in a way that live performance or digital files can’t be
Can put visual art and music together in a way that enhances the appreciation of both elements
Are the most reliable and attractive way to archive a music collection
The artists on FPE are special, and they deserve a brand that launches in style. Raffie and Foppie are the vanguard of a new era of vinyl appreciation and music love! And they're great for kids!
The Story So Far
Raffie and Foppie were conceived when FPE Records founder Matt Pakulski asked his friend Ron to draw some dancing records for an ad. Matt saw them and immediately wanted to hug them - but you can't hug a drawing! (Well you can but it's not really fun.)
Ron made some adorable designs, and Matt brought designer and pattern maker Sara Fagala on board to tease them into the third dimension. Epic fabric-purchasing trips, a drive to Kankakee in the snow, and late-night sewing sessions all ensued. Five months after the dream was born, actual dolls were in hand. Raffie and Foppie made the rounds of record stores in Chicago and New York, and even put in a cameo appearance at the International Toy Fair.
The prototype is just the beginning. Still to come is the creation of the final production-run design with the factory. This will take several months. Once the design is in place, that's when we need the money. Lots of it! The minimum order is thousands of dolls. Once the run is approved and paid for, turnaround on production is another 3-4 months.
Thanks for pledging! We know you want the dolls, so that's what you'll get:
Your choice of either one at the $25 level, and both of them at $50.
$80 gets a special limited-edition photo book of Raffie and Foppie having adventures.
$140 adds an actual record, a 7" of Raffie and Foppie-inspired music.
$500 pledgers will receive a limited-edition print of Ron Regé Jr.'s original designs for Raffie and Foppie, signed by the artist.
$1000 will get you a personalized version of the song in the video above, recorded by Zigtebra.
Not ready to go all the way? Pledge $10 and I'll send you a Raffie and Foppie postcard!
Risks and challenges
Keeping the cost under a point where the dolls can be in stores at a reasonable price and not lose money is the biggest challenge by far. Compromises need to be made between complexity that is awesome and simplicity that is within reach. Just to be totally clear: the pics and the video feature the original prototypes. The production run will be different in some details. Things that won't change include the adorable faces and the hilarious shape. Things that might change include the materials, the hat design, the limb design, and the hand and foot designs.
Storage is also an issue. Warehouse space isn't cheap. The sooner these dolls find their permanent homes, the better.
Promoting and selling a few thousand dolls is new to me as well. It helps that Raffie and Foppie are utterly incredible and cute, but it's a lot of dolls. This Kickstarter campaign and grass-roots promotion through record stores are the chief tools in the box. Spread the word, people!
The FUZZY FRIEND pack: Both dolls, the book, all four records, the signed print, AND FPE recording artist Zigtebra will record a special version of their song "Fuzzy Friends" with YOUR name in it, in the style of your choice: rap metal, classic country, or baroque. Or don't choose and just let em rip.