The Designer Toy market place consists of mainly vinyl figures which are mass produced in large numbers for companies like Kidrobot, Super Plastic, Funko, Mighty Jaxx, Unbox Industries and others who may produce vinyl toys for individual artists and other companies. The main players in this field right now are artists like Kaws who are stealing headlines in the contemporary art world as well as selling out instantly to their hard core collectors. New names are stepping into this area such as Unruly Industries who are part of the much respected and long established Sideshow Collectibles.
One Sixth Scale Toys:
There are also specialist Designer Toy companies who produce figures in the more traditional areas of one sixth arena with highly collectable, detailed and poseable products which while steering away from the traditional designer toy market also take across some of the attention to detail and collectability that designer toy markets demand. Companies such as Hot Toys, 1000 toys, Sideshow and Mondo are producing one sixth scale toys which are incredibly complex and in some cases life-like with stunning articulation.
Resin toys are also incredibly popular and the quality of resin toys, crossed with the relatively low production costs compared to vinyl toys for smaller runs can make them more attractive to individual artists or companies who need to work with smaller costing models. This is a great way to test the designer toy market with new concepts before moving on to the huge costs involved with mass production of a vinyl toy. Many recent success stories in the resin toy world include artists like QUICCS and 2 Petal Rose – whose releases sell out instantly and often resell on the aftermarkets like eBay for many times the retail price within hours if not minutes.
Sofubi is a world of dark secrets and monsters from Japan, with closely guarded methods of production in some cases and even restrictions placed on some Sofubi production houses releasing their work outside of Japan. Sofubi roughly translates as “Soft Vinyl” and usually sofubi toys are traditionally based on Japanese mythology. Many areas such as Yokaii and Kaiju are interpreted into sought after handmade and hand painted very limited runs which command very high prices on domestic and international markets.
Bootleg toys are the toys you wanted when you were a kid, but they didn’t exist – so when you become an adult you make them yourselves. Pretty much always made of resin of some kind and always hand made, these are pieces straight from the artists imagination and some are pretty weird – with many being genuinely terrible in traditional terms.
This is the area run by the artists more closely than any other, with a joint aesthetic that is aimed solely at sticking it to the man and making the toys you can’t buy anywhere else. Bootlegs are recognised now as the legitimate art form they always have been underground and companies like Super 7 alongside artists like Killer Bootlegs and Sucklord have taken this world to another level and continue to inspire a new generation of aspiring artists to take the plunge at making their own ideas become reality.
There is a LOT to take in with the worlds of Designer Toys and Art Toys, and there are many devoted fanatical fans out there – with attention to detail and asking the fans directly what they want from any publications I feel there is a ready market there. Personally I think the fans sometimes feel a little cut off from the artists they love and a publication series aimed at not just the toys but also the artist who creates them and the process of getting them to market has some real value.
As you can see it’s a world I am passionate about but I also know it can be a strange world that you sometimes have to be a part of to see clearly – if you have ANY questions throw them at me !!! I have kept the information here general, as an introduction to the world I deal with daily – my contact with the artists makes it real for me and I have nothing but respect for the artists and their wishes….that will always be what drives me on.