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Steely deeds: Meet Dr. Steel

One man's mission: Make the world a happier place

One man's mission: Make the world a happier place

September 15, 2009|By RACHAEL JOHNSON / Special to The Herald-Mail

PITTSBURGH - People on the streets of Pittsburgh were minding their own business on Aug. 15, when suddenly -- an invasion occurred.

Who was invading? An group known only as Dr. Steel's Army of Toy Soldiers. These "Toy Soldiers" are teens and adults who are followers of Dr. Steel, a toymaker and muscian. I am a Toy Soldier.

The Toy Soldiers' mission on that day: To pass out the word of Steel on what is known among the ranks as Global Invasion Day. The "word of Steel" includes free DVDs titled, "Building a Utopian Play Land," and plenty of portable manifestos about the mission. The army's goal is to make Steel the world emperor.

Of course, it's all in fun. The actor, writer and performance artist known as Dr. Phineas Waldorf Steel reaches fans and followers through toys, books and his music, which Rue Morgue magazine characterized as "industrial hip-hop opera." Steel's followers take on characters, names and missions for the movement.

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Dr. Steel describes himself as head of a world movement. He preaches play, not war. However, he uses war-like tactics for his planned takeover. That's the reason for the toy soldiers, armies and propaganda - all things that have been used in wars for centuries.

"Once I began my campaign for a world makeover, I needed a way to spread the word of my agenda," Steel wrote in an e-mail. "I have been studying political techniques that various governments have been using for many, many years to sway the opinions of the masses. Unlike these reality engineers, however, I seek not to hide the tricks of the trade, but to showcase them. To this end, I proudly spread my own brand of propaganda."

His Web site presents his tongue-in-cheek approach to his movement. Other sites would sell merchandise such as T-shirts and albums, but Steel proudly labels it as "propaganda."

Through the Web site, Steel enlists loyal followers or toy soldiers. Recently, soldiers have been planning a new project: establishing a command center. They hope to sell merchandise to raise money to buy an old abandoned military base.

Steel said when he's on stage the feeling is "warm and generally loud."

"I often enter a sort of auto pilot-mode when performing on stage," he said.

This was the second year Pittsburgh has been invaded. This specific invasion was called "Invasion of Steel City." A group of West Virginia Toy Soldiers, the 669 Pitchfork Brigade - the brigade I'm part of - spent the day in the city. We spread Doctor Steel's DVDs such as "Special Brain Washing Bubbles" and CDs of Steel's music.

In addition to Toy Soldiers, Dr. Steel's fans dress in costume and play roles in other groups. Nurses help Steel with his personal appearance and live performances; Toy Scouts are females who help recruit; and YellowJackets are Toy Soldiers who have earned a special patch from Steel himself.

Their duty is simple: Spread Doctor Steel's message, praise creativity, hold no one back and live no longer for fear of war, but live with the goal to have fun.

Steel asks those in his ranks to complete operations such as Operation: Hot Topic, which asks his followers to purchase merchandise from the popular retail shop, and Operation: Steelmas carols, which asks his followers to sing carols with lines such as "The robots are dancing, a new toy awakes./Doctor Steel is laughing with each new toy he makes" to show the power of song.

Anyone interested in following or joining Dr. Steel's recruits can check out www.toysoldiersunite.com

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