Pilsen Homies, 18th Street, Chicago. -by Maria Gaspar

I found this collection on 18th Street and Bishop in the Pilsen Community. It is comprised of Homies toys/characters popularized within Latin American neighborhoods in Chicago. One can purchase a Homie toy from a toy machine for about $.50.

Website: http://www.homies.tv/homies2008/

Homies characters consist of several series: The Homies, The Mijos, The Hoodrats, Homie Clowns, Dogpoung, The Palermos and Trailer Park. The more popular Homies characters’ are described on their website as…”The Homies are a group of tightly knit Chicano buddies who have grown up in the Mexican American barrio ( neighborhood ) of “Quien Sabe”, ( who knows ) located in East Los Angeles. The four main characters are Hollywood, Smiley, Pelon, and Bobby Loco. Their separate and distinct personalities and characteristics together make up a single, composite entity that is the “HOMIES.” In an inner-city world plagued by poverty, oppression, violence, and drugs, the Homies have formed a strong and binding cultural support system that enables them to overcome the surrounding negativity and allows for laughter and good times as an anecdote for reality. The word “Homies” itself is a popular street term that refers to someone from your hometown or, in a broader sense, anyone that you would acknowledge as your friend. In use in the West Coast Latino community for decades, the word “Homies” has crossed over into the now mainstream Hip-Hop street culture that has taken America’s young people by storm.”

David Gonzalez, creator of The Homies Series, says “…to be able to see the world
of the Hispanic child from a humorous point of view, and to be able to write and draw 
about it, is a gift from God. I would like you to help me share it with the rest of the world.” … The artist profile states that “…during this time he has successfully marketed to the Hispanic market with a variety of custom lines. His art has been sold on t-shirts in hundreds of retail outlets, both large and specialty. Some well known accounts include J.C. Penny, Millers Outpost, Mr. Rags, and Hot Topic.”

I know of several people who collect these toys and am always amazed at their popularity. They are extremely stereotypical and mostly cater to the EAST LA MEXICAN STEREOTYPE used within our pop culture and mainstream media. The company has a number of youtube videos, songs, homegirl calendars and many, many other products that are marketed towards Latinos. I question the relationship between the purchaser being of Latin American descent purchasing a stereotypical image of themselves. This collection is interesting because it is small storefront space that is owned by a private family. How many years did it take for them to create this collection? They included other characters, like Sponge Bob, Lisa Simpson and others.

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