Man makes a popular business creating custom mashups of popular toys

When my parents went to work, I used the afternoons alone to start making more dolls. I once spent an entire semester modifying an Ecto-1, the car from the Ghostbusters. In that era, the Fast and Furious remained a popular series, so I burned the wheel axles enough to bring the chassis closer to the ground.

  • 1 year ago
  • January 26, 2023
7 min read
These are two examples of the toy These are two examples of the toy "mash-ups" created at Milonga Customs - a successful custom toy company featured on Instagram. | Photo courtesy of Esteban "Rocko" Rocconi
Interview Subject
Esteban “Rocko” Rocconi is 34 years old, a fan of rock, and a consumer of pop culture. He is one of the founders and managers of the custom toy company on Instagram called Molinga Customs.
Background Information
Six friends gave life to Milonga Customs, the extravagant toy venture that brings to life meme characters, local and international celebrity figures, pop culture characters, and turns jokes into toys. From The Force from Star Wars (an empty blister pack) to the missing arm of a former motorcyclist and Argentine presidential candidate, through television fights or the eye of Big Brother, his catalog of characters is inexhaustible, like the internet itself. The team also makes toys on demand as souvenirs, birthday or New Year’s gifts. The line called “Broken” stands out in this subgenre. They are recreations of people in a profound state of intoxication that a family member or friend orders as a joke.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina ꟷ I serve as one of the founders and promoters of Milonga customs: a business venture offering unique, custom toys. On my worktable lays an unpainted ship, pieces of acrylic, a half-finished goblin, and a pack of cigarettes. Old cell phones with missing screens await transformation into mini arcades. An unpainted arm serves as a Christmas ornament representing Daniel Scioli – an Argentine politician who lost that limb in an accident decades ago.

We create customized dolls and toys including historical characters from television, memes, entertainment, and politics. We also create mashups that bring our customers laughter.

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Creating my very first mashup as a kid

Around 11 years old, I saw Toy Story for the first time on VHS. I watched the tape repeatedly. During a scene in Sid Philip’s room, I said, “I want to do the same thing with my dolls!”

I received a Woody doll and I liked it, but I really wanted that baby-headed spider that belonged to Sid. No one sold that doll, so I began making my own. A fan of the saga Tuesday the 13th, I imagined that every time the character got killed, he came back to life, but with a new limb. I made a four-armed doll. I replaced his legs with the legs from Spawn. Wearing jeans, the legs looked much more bad ass.

In two arms, he carried weapons. The third arm came from one of the Knights of the Zodiac, and the last from a Star Trek robot. He had all the accessories he needed to fight, so they could no longer kill him. As I mashed him up with other dolls, I created a storyline of mutation. I added nails and screws, among other things.

My friends and I all had the same dolls growing up: Power Rangers and Robocop. I wanted something unique that no one else had. My mom and dad scolded me for burning knives and ruining my dad’s tools. They stopped lending me supplies after the smell of burning plastic permeated the house.

Turning the corner from “lazy kid” to business owner

When my parents went to work, I used the afternoons alone to start making more dolls. I once spent an entire semester modifying an Ecto-1, the car from the Ghostbusters. In that era, the Fast and Furious remained a popular series, so I burned the wheel axles enough to bring the chassis closer to the ground.

I painted it black, because everyone had white, and I broke another toy to put an aileron on it. With a nail, I made little holes to resemble air vents. I spent so much time on that car, I had to repeat that school year. My father gave me a hard time, but it did not phase me. When I finished the car, I felt proud. I took photos of it with my cell phone and thought, “Among all the bad things I do, this really turned out good.”

Esteban works on his custom creations for Molinga Customs in his home | Photo courtesy of Esteban “Rocko” Rocconi

Over time, I came to dislike school despite getting good grades when I was younger. I started listening to rock music and looking for other interests, but eventually I came back to my passion. Today, with Molinga Customs on television, my mother finally accepts my purpose. I understand why they felt frustrated. My father studied all his life and worked hard. For a time, he felt as though he raised a lazy son who simply burns dolls.

A resurgence of my childhood hobby

At one point, I stopped making dolls altogether. I did it alone and had no one to share it with. At a certain age, people look at you strangely if you continue playing with toys. Work and life took me away from my hobby. Then, one day, I stood in the warehouse of a toy store I managed. Suddenly, I found my passion again. I went back to modifying dolls.

Back home, I began transforming dolls into characters from the Cha cha cha show. As a fan, I wanted my own version of Juan Carlos Batman. I set up an alter in full view at the warehouse. The owners and everyone on the premises began taking photos and laughing. They liked it.

At the same time, I met a new friend who would become my partner in Milonga Customs. I realized my hobby was good for me. It provided me with direction and a place to be myself. Customizing dolls feels fun. It grounds me and, at times, can be hard work.

Hooked on Milonga, my company allows me to do what I love. I found people to enjoy it with, and I embraced them with my whole soul. I do these projects for myself. They come to mind while listening to music. For example, I’m working on a little Iron Maiden game right now and want to create my own little Eddies. I took 12-inch dolls, like Max Steel, and blew their heads off!

Once I’m done making my Iron Maiden Eddies, I have more plans. I want to make Mortal Kombat Eddies featuring Sub Zero and Kung Lao. In these fun projects, I test out new paints, brushes, and ideas. What turns out well, I share with Milonga.

A house filled with projects and a childhood dream

I make ugly dolls and I love them, avoiding any kind of hegemonic aesthetic. Things do not need to be perfect or beautiful. I find beauty in the ugliness. I also seek to make creations with motion and livelihood. Who wants collections that sit behind a box or a window? I want my customers to play with the toys. For each and every piece, I integrate my personal mark.

When I go out, I carry my dolls with me in a backpack, arranging them in settings outside for photographs. At times, while visiting with friends and enjoying conversation, I pull out a Blue Power Ranger and everyone feels nostalgic. This method creates conversations and reactions.

I also carry figurines, like some I found recently from Jurassic Park. At a barbecue, I waited for the right moment and revealed several sealed envelopes to my friends. I set one condition: they carry the figurines with them or give it someone at an important moment. Toys are meant to be used.

Thankfully, my wife accepts my life because my house is filled with items associated with Milonga. Sometimes, it looks like a mess, full of toys and half-finished projects. When someone like a technician or service provider comes over, they seem surprised. I notice their facial expressions as I sign forms. They look around in awe.

It feels great to do what I do, and it connects me back to childhood. Some may see it as nonsense, but I love it.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.


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