Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Designer Toys - WIKIPEDIA

Wikipedia definition of 'Designer Toys' - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designer_toys

Designer toys is a term used to describe toys and other collectibles that are produced in limited editions (as few as 10 or as many as 2000 pieces) and created by artists and designers. Designer toys are made of variety of materials; ABS plastic and vinyl are most common, although woodmetal, and resin are occasionally used. The term also encompasses plushcloth and latex dolls. Creators of designer toys usually have backgrounds in graphic designillustration or self-described low brow art; some are classically trained in art and design, while others are self-taught. Designer toys first appeared in the 1990s and are still in production today.


A typical example of designer toys are the Qee series, produced in Hong Kong by Toy2R. The standard size of Qee figures is 2" high, but 8" and 16" figures for their famous uglydolls which are also produced. Qees vary in their design, usually with the same basic body type, but with head sculpts that may be of a bear, a cat, a dog, a monkey, or a rabbit. Variations of the Qee are the Toyer with a head that resembles a cartoon skull; the Knuckle Bear, which was created by Japanese character designer Touma, and resembles a graffiti-stylecaricature of an anthropomorphized bear; and the Qee Egg, a bird's egg with arms and legs. Blank Qees are produced in 2" and 8" sizes; these figures may be of any Qee sculpt, but are packaged unpainted, as do-it-yourself pieces. Each piece is designed by an artist and carries its own aesthetic theme. Each 2" figure is packaged with an optional keychainattachment.
Another example of designer toys is the Dunny series, produced by the American company Kidrobot. Dunny figures may be considered the Western counterpart of the Chinese Qeeand the Japanese Be@rbrick. Dunny are a series of figures that resemble anthropomorphized rabbits in a cartoon style (a design originally illustrated by graffiti, stencil, and comicartists) which are produced as 3", 8", and 20" figures. There is a variation of the Dunny figure called a Munny, which resembles a monkey, and is only sold as an unpainted do-it-yourself piece. Some creators of designer toys are Hong Kong-based Michael Lau, credited with the establishment of the Urban Vinyl movement; Devilrobots, a five-person design team from Japan, known for their television character named TO-FU Oyako;[1] American concert poster artist Frank Kozik's Mongers series and Labbit character; and British illustrator James Jarvis' cast of characters, produced as vinyl figures of varying sizes.
Most vinyl toys are produced in factories in China, though some designers have shifted production to Japan where higher quality materials such as clear vinyl are used. Designer toys are rarely produced in the United States due to environmental restrictions on the production of vinyl, some exceptions are resin and plush toys.

Urban vinyl

Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of the way in which they are produced. Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults.
The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s.[2][3] Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami whose work has been exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and the Museum of Fine Arts, BostonAustralian designer Nathan Jurevicius's Scarygirl, based on characters from his comic of the same name, and produced in conjunction with Hong Kong company Flyingcat, and former graffiti artist KAWSLos Angeles based musician and designer Craig Anthony Perkins created the Broken Heart Robot character[4]
Urban vinyl figures are designed primarily by illustrators, graffiti artists, musicians and DJs from urban areas in Asia (especially Japan and Hong Kong), North America (especially the United States), and Europe.
An offshoot of hip hop and youth-oriented popular culture, urban vinyl often depicts real-life figures from Asian and American culture, particularly artists who perform in a hip-hop or related styles. Two examples are Lau's depiction of the LMF rappers from Hong Kong, and figures based on the members of the virtual electronic band Gorillaz, produced by Jamie Hewlett and made by Kidrobot.
Urban vinyl is commonly designated as either Eastern Vinyl, including anything designed and produced in Asia or Australia, or Western Vinyl, encompassing pieces which are designed and produced in North America, South America, or Europe. Urban vinyl figures have become collectible items. Rare pieces may sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Resin toys

Some artists create their toys using synthetic resin material and resin casting. After casting the resin toy receives adjustments in its details, sometimes being superficially cast on some parts. The toy can be finished using automotive paint by aerosol and sometimes receives a varnished layer above the dry painting.
The process of making resin toys is more labor intensive and time consuming than industrialized vinyl toy production, which in most of cases are made identical and in large quantities. But resin casting allows artists to produce toys in small numbers. Most vinyl factories will only produce toys in large series. Resin toys have become a way for less established artists to produce a toy without the large financial investment required to produce a vinyl toy. Unlike most vinyl toys, resin toys are usually sculpted, cast, and painted by a single artist. In 2009 mphlabs produced a series of resin figures by American east coast artists Lou Pimentel and Brent Nolasco.

Designer Plush

Designer plush, a subcategory of designer toys, are soft, stuffed dolls created in limited quantities by artists and designers. Common designs include anthropomorphized animals or fantastic human likenesses, although designer plush dolls often feature entirely unique character designs. Designer plush dolls are usually given names and personas, with their distinctive personalities described on their tags or in booklets included in their packaging.
One producer of designer plush is Friends With You, a commercial art and design collective based in MiamiFlorida. Their work is characterized by a cute yet bizarre aesthetic, and exhibits a hand-made quality, even in pieces that are machine-made. In addition to their plush dolls, Friends With You also create modular wood toys, and motion graphics for companies such as SonyMTVNike, and Columbia Records.
Another type of designer plush are Uglydolls, created by independent toy designers David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim under the label Pretty Ugly. Their first products were 12" plush dolls based on drawings by David Horvath’s, and handmade by Sun-Min Kim. Pretty Ugly has also produced 7" versions of their character designs, called Little Uglys, 24" versions called Giant Uglys, 4" miniatures intended for use as keychains, and in a departure from the plush medium, 7" Vinyl Uglys. With Ugly Dolls being featured in motion pictures like Zuthera and in major specialty stores the brand has gone from exclusive to Mass appeal in mainstream.[6]
Another designer plush line are Shawnimals, originating in Chicago, Illinois, with designs such as "Pocket Ninja", "Splug", and "Son of Moustachio". All of these characters exist in a land called "Shawnimaland". Shawnimals released series 1 of "Micro Plush" blind box toys in December 2007 based on their Ninjatown line of characters. The majority of the characters involved all revolve around the Wee Ninja character, and are licensed to the Squibbles + Rotofugi partnership. Series 2 is scheduled for release near or on the same day as its Ninjatown Nintendo DS game.
Other examples of designer plush include Hellhounds, created by Japanese character designer Touma and produced by Play Imaginative; the Gloomy Bear collection by Japanese graphic designer Mori Chack; Stuffed Animal World and the Amalgamated Menagerie by Tyler Poncho Toys; the Furilla series by American artist Toren Orzeck; the Grunions by American production company Goblinko, the Doudoupop brand by French designer Jamous; the Swedish Spök-spök brand by designer Daniel Svanberg, presently consisting of four characters named Spök-spök, Spökelina, Toofhairy, and the ever angry Baron von Kon, living in an ideal world that's a hybrid of fond childhood memories and traditional Swedish iconography; and Circus Punks, knockdown dolls (simple dolls with round, sand-filled bases used in carnival games) which are screen-printed and sewn by hand, each featuring a design by a different artist. While in Asia, Thunderpanda or Eric_Wirjanata released a series of limited edition of Lemi the Space Wanderer plush.

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