Urban vinyl toys, vinyl figures, designer toys; all these terms are used to describe toys and other collectibles (plastic or vinyl) you might have already seen somewhere. When I published my first Sama drawings on the Internet, back in 1999, I was working on a 3D model of the Sama Water Tank, made with clay. The result was approximate but my Sama went to life in real 3D. I had a Mazinger Z figure on my desk, an Astro Boy on a shelf aside this Sama kind-of-thing; that was before I heard of Michael Lau.
The Gardeners, his first original action figures created in the late nineties, were the start of a whole new industry, the designer toys industry was born. It would be too long to talk about every artist, designer and figure but I can tell you is that I really like vinyl toys. I’m not making a collection but I appreciate the work of Rolito (french artist), I have all the Rolitoboy produced excepted the Rolito Colette (hard to find, even on Ebay). Same for Jaime Hayon (spanish artist and designer) and the Onion series (Mon Cirque Qee, Onion Love…), the great Kaws (American artist) and the Companion figures (expensive, start with the Bus Stop Set, cheaper)…
But also Run (Alphonzo and Angelino), Joe Ledbetter, Sam Flores (Baby Tiger and paintings), David Horvath, Tim Biskup (Calli and its Totem friends), Nathan Jurevicius(Scarygirl and the Treedweller), Pete Fowler, Superdeux (Stereotype series, Army of Death), Jeff Soto, Fafi and the Fafinettes (capsule toys, Irina, Jeanette and Claude), Gary Baseman, Mist (Malus, Bonass and Orus), James Jarvis, Skwak (I’ll get his Maniac toy soon), Jon Burgerman… Among a huge list of designer toys.
Illustrators, graffiti artists use vinyl toys as new canvas for their imagination and the result is often surprisingly awesome, far from the Sama 3D hand-made clay model in 1999, I have to admit (I am still very proud of it though). Some series are with no doubt created on commercial purpose but vinyl toys is an industry and you can buy a piece of art of your favorite artists, for a reasonable price (excepted for very limited editions, of course) whether it’s a Qee, Dunny, Munny, Be@rbrick, Kubrickor any other original figures.
Recent toys I’ve bought: a very pink / green package including a 2.5″ OX OP 3 Nurse Flash-It (Junko Mizuno), a 2.5″ Toxic Cat Purple (Joe Ledbetter) and of course a 5″ Rolitoboy Love Nature (Rolito).