The Toy Dolls are a punk band, formed in 1979, around the core of extremely talented guitarist Michael "Olga" Algar, in Sunderland, England. The band quickly became a mainstay of "punk pathetique", combining the raw energy of the punk scene with the aesthetics and content of the burgeoning "alternative comedy"-movement. The end result was a fast-paced, frantic, high-energy silliness which found a lot of favor with punks.
As of 2020, the Toy Dolls were still touring and recording, spreading their unique brand of high-energy comedy to the world.
Tropes associated with the band include:
- Break Up Song: "She'll Be Back With Keith Someday".
- Colbert Bump: The band reached completely new audiences when "Dig That Groove, Baby" appeared on the soundtrack of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Dougy Giro" is a song in the same peppy vein as most of the band's oeuvre, but about the life and times of a homeless man the narrator knows.
- Similarly, "The Lambrusco Kid" is about a man's decline into Lambrusco-fueled alcoholism.
- Nostalgia Filter: "Back in '79" is about how all the mates from the punk scene way back when have grown up, gotten married and become staid pillars of the establishment.
- Old-Fashioned Copper: The titular "PC Stoker", who is more concerned with going after kids trying to have some innocent fun than real criminals, and will use egregious levels of Police Brutality in service to that goal.
- Overly Long Title: A common gag. Notable examples include "If You're In A Pop Group You'll End Up Paying A Fortune Practicing At Peter Practice's Practice Place", "I Lost My Heart To A Slag Named Sharon From Whitley Bay", and "The Death Of Barry The Roofer With Vertigo".
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Invoked. The band would include a cover of something on every album, usually a classical piece like "Sabre Dance" or "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".
- The Toy Dolls version of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is a good example in its own right, as it is a technically well-executed series of variations on the second movement for two guitars that would not have sounded out-of-place at a music academy recital, but was played to raucous cheers of booted punks in smoky basements.
- Powder Keg Crowd: Let's just say that neither Park Lane (Park Lane Punch-up) or Frederick Street (Fisticuffs in Frederick Street) is a gathering place for sane, even-tempered people.
- Real-Person Fic: "Cloughy Is A Bootboy" re-imagines the notoriously hard-arsed football manager Brian Clough as a football hooligan.
- Red Light District: Hamburg's infamous "Reeperbahn" features prominently in "Caught up the Reeperbahn".
- Revolving Door Band. The only member to have stuck with the band throughout its existence is Olga.
- Shout-Out: "PC Stoker" begins with a musical quote from the theme from Z Cars.
- Values Dissonance: Several of the band's early songs contain some dismissive remarks about "poofs" which went unremarked in the eighties, but can leave a sour taste in the new '10s.