The recently concluded Toy Fair in New York unveiled a number of musical toys. Naturally, that's a good news/bad news situation. For instance:
If you don't like rap, you're not going to love Body Rap, "the first portable consumer electronic percussion instrument that lets kids keep the beat to their favorite songs or create their own authentic raps." In other words, another way for kids to drive adults crazy. Body Rap's eight pressure-sensitive pads are worn on heads, legs, arms and waists (actually, wherever you want) and emit either a drum or cymbal sound or the words "body" and "rap" when they're slapped (think how much fun the Three Stooges could have had with this one). There's a built-in jack to make Body Rap compatible with most headsets and sound systems.
Also on the percussive front are Nasta's Hit Stix. These are bright orange drumsticks that, when plugged into a belt-attachable amplifier, create a modulated percussion sound whether they're hit on a surface or IN THIN AIR! This may put the air drummers of the world into business.
Fisher-Price's Pocket Rockers are going to go over quite well with the younger end of the MTV generation and should provide a boost for the miniature audio cassette market (most people don't even know there is such a market or format). Miniature cassettes are even smaller than micro-cassettes, about the size of two sugar cubes. They'll contain two songs (probably hit singles) by such popular artists as Bon Jovi, Huey Lewis and Belinda Carlisle, and will play continuously in little durable (and fashionable) cassette players with built-in speakers and a headphone jack (you can also get separate speakers). Because the whole system is designed for kids 7 and up, the mechanics are pretty simple: Put the cassette in and the player turns on, eject it and it turns off. A slide switch lets the listener choose the track. The cassettes will come with music cards and clips, so kids can wear them like ammunition on bandoleers. Look for a lot of collecting and trading on this one.
Older music fans may turn to Starr's Elvis in Concert, a 19 1/2-inch doll mounted on a 3-inch sound stage. Though this model doesn't gyrate (maybe future models will), a tiny player under the stage plays miniature cassettes of Presley's original RCA recordings. Vol. 1 contains "Jail House Rock," "Loving You" and "Blue Suede Shoes." "He's back and he's never sounded better," the package says, and yes, it's endorsed by Graceland.
And finally, what have those wrinkled rockers, the California Raisins, wrought? First came the popular ad for the raisin industry, then the album (which just went platinum). Now there's a California Raisins Board Game, and three more Nasta niceties: 3 1/2-inch windup California Raisins (available in a gift-pack of three), an 8-inch AM/FM California Raisin radio with posable arms and legs, and a wireless California Raisins microphone.
Waxie Maxie's Generosity Waxie Maxie's, the local record chain founded 50 years ago at Seventh and T streets by Max and Bertha Silverman, is celebrating its anniversary in fine fashion by donating a minimum of $100,000 to local charities. Since a portion of every purchase made at any of the 28 locations in the Baltimore-Washington area will be given to one of four charities on a quarterly basis, the donations could be much larger. Those charities are: the Special Olympics from now through May 15; the MADD and SADD chapters of Maryland and Northern Virginia from May 16 through Aug. 13; the AIDS Action Foundation from Aug. 14 through Nov. 12; and the Community for Creative Non-Violence from Nov. 13 through Feb. 12, 1989. Mark Silverman, the company president and son of the founders, says, "It's our way of putting money back into the community, where it will do the most good."
Odds and Ends Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the acclaimed South African a cappella group brought to the rest of the world by Paul Simon's "Graceland" tour, has just finished writing and performing an original score for an upcoming "National Geographic Explorer" program, "The Rhino Wars." The documentary, which airs Feb. 28 on TBS, examines the gradual extinction of Africa's rhino population, which has decreased by 90 percent since 1979. Incidentally, Black Mambazo has also just finished shooting its first American commercial, for 7-Up ... Amicable splits: after disappointing sales of their last album and a concert tour that saw the band playing to many half-filled halls, the Cars have broken up, and the members will pursue solo careers. Also, James (JT) Taylor has left Kool and the Gang for a solo career. During Taylor's 10-year tenure the group rose from a run-of-the-mill funk band to become a steady occupant of the Top 10 ... And after 22 years, Grace Slick has left the Starship, ne'e Jefferson Airplane.