[DESIGNER VINYLS] Hot or Not?

Posted by Sanjeev 
Sanjeev (Admin)
I've been meaning to do this for a while now...

I wanted to have a thread to show some designer vinyls and get people's opinions on them. These are gonna be toys that are well-known at skullbrain, but probably stuff that's never been seen over here.

Basically, I define "designer vinyls" as non-character toys. In other words, the toy maker came up with these guys 100% on their own. Though they act as the artist's love letter to old school toys, they're not licensed characters from some movie or comic.

I just figured that folks here, who're used to Godzilla, Gamera, and Ultraman, might have some interesting takes on these toys...

...

I'll kick it off with this pair of glow figures from Blobpus x Yamomark. Whazzat even mean? Well, Yamomark designed and produced these characters and shot the figures in glow vinyl. Blobpus painted them and released them as part of some recent Lucky Bag offerings.

First, Barabaran:







He's, like, some weird rose/centipede hybrid dude. More "kaijin" than "kaiju", a lot of Yamomark's figures are like this: humanoidish and often wearing boots. Think Kamen Rider villain. Anyway, the whole flower/bug thing is what's so interesting about this guy to me. I love how the centipede on (forming?) his head basically is also his right arm.

Next up, Yamobazooka:







This guy's actually one of my favorite designer sculpts out right now. He's some sort of zombie/cyborg lizard. One side of his face is ripped off, exposing his skull, and he's got some meaty ribs showing on his other side. His right arm's been replace with a bazooka, and even though it's hard to tell, his left leg is also robotic (Blobpus apparently chose to paint it the same way as the rest of his body). Anyway, this is one of my favorite sculpts because of the insane detail on his skin. Every tiny raised bump was meticulously hand-sculpted in there...it's nuts!




Anyway, whadday'all think?

And those who have other designer stuff, feel free to post more...

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
Those are kinda cool. I'm not 100% sold on them, but I do like them a hell of a lot more than most of the other stuff that is collected on SB. In terms of the first one, I also really like the scales running down the back of the figure. However, the head sculpt (other than the rose) does nothing for me, and I really don't like this paint job. Do you have pics of it in other color versions (avoiding colorway and other terms)? I do love how the rose glows. Nice details.

The second one is nice too. Although with those gaping wounds, I just can't picture this thing still walking around. ;) But the glow effects on this one are top notch.


As to my own collection, I only have a few. My favorites are the Bop Dragon and Marnon. Here are some older photos from my collection (the shelves were rearranged and are a lot more crowded now).

Three Bop Dragons (from Rumble Monsters) are on the left. The yellow one and the orange/gold painted one are Mike Sutfin customs. The green one is a standard issue. I really want to paint the yellow one like one photo I'd seen - just the mouth and eyes are painted. But I just don't have the skill or proper paints.




Here are some close-ups I had taken:






And these are Marnons (by Dream Rocket). They have tortured souls' faces on the rear shells. I don't like the rear as much as the fronts.





Here are some close-ups I had taken:








So what do the masses think of these?
So, are we just going to show off some stereotypical examples and talk about them? Just discussing the actual merits of the toys?



This is a Space Trooper... they are easy to find and fun in the same way that Army Men are. The fun pose and clear helmet make a cool figure that really stands out on a shelf, and looks great in a group.



These are Gatchigons, by Real X Head. They are my favorite fight figure sculpt... review coming soon on CDX ;)



Here's another Yamomark Kaijin... Mushroom Soup Man. The sculpt on this one is just heaven... packed with detail, feels good in your hands, and is a fun bad guy figure.

And, if we're going to use Sanjeev's definition of 'Designer Vinyl', then Ashley Wood's stuff counts:



This is a Bramble... it is a robot designed for war, and much more proper robot toy than 'vinyl', but still made of vinyl for cost reasons. Big review coming from me soon ;)

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2010 03:18PM by Prometheum5.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Mmm...loving that M1 Baltan in the first pic! But this thread's about designer stuff...

I never got into the Bop Dragon design. I dunno...too simple for me? The size is impressive, though...

I actually have that glow Marnon. Neat design, but there's not a ton you can do with the figure...it's kinda boring to "play" with... It's funny--as much as I admire Dream Rocket, he's only done, like, two sculpts that I really like (Balbagon and Gillmos).

As for pics of the Yamomark guys, unfortunately, there's no one single repository for 'em. You can search on SB, flickr, a half-dozen or so vinyl retailers' sites, or just do a google image search...
Sanjeev (Admin)
Yeah, the Ashley Wood robots definitely count I think.

As for this thread, try to resist posting pics of every fucking designer vinyl you own! I figure some folks here might be at least a little interested in them, but if you deluge a post with 20 random-ass pics, it turns your brain into mashed potatoes.

Just post several pics of ONE toy (or more than one if they're closely related)...and talk about why you like it and its historical significance, if any.

I was gonna post a more comprehensive photo-shoot of the Space Troopers next week. I have at least a couple of almost every head sculpt, so that'd be nice to show off...
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I never got into the Bop Dragon design. I
> dunno...too simple for me? The size is impressive,
> though...
>
> I actually have that glow Marnon. Neat design, but
> there's not a ton you can do with the
> figure...it's kinda boring to "play" with... It's
> funny--as much as I admire Dream Rocket, he's only
> done, like, two sculpts that I really like
> (Balbagon and Gillmos).


I love the Bop Dragon sculpt. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I think the proportions are great, and I like the fat belly, the extended neck, and the alien-esque (the baby that pops outta your chest) head design. I could definitely picture this as an Ultraman foe. I don't like the new Dragon design (what was it - King Dragon or something like that?).

And true that the Marnon isn't poseable at all. But I don't really play much with my vinyls, so its OK with me. But to me, its also a great take on kaiju, sort of a cross between Hedorah and Gamera in a twisted sort of way. And the head seems sorta frog-like to me (not just because of the tongue). The green version is spectacular, with the blown-glass-like finger and tongue tips. But the glow on it sucks, as I'm sure you know. Keeping it just cause its a glowie probably ain't worth it, if you don't really dig the sculpt. I don't particularly dig the other Dream Rocket stuff as much. I have nothing against them, but they don't speak to me like this does.

And that's probably a good point to bring up. I don't think you'll convince anyone to start collecting these who is not really into them now (and I know you're not trying to). Its good to expose others to new stuff. But the majority of the designer vinyl stuff out there just doesn't appeal to me, so my collection contains very few of these items. Unless they're somewhat realistic looking or have direct ties to known kaiju, it just seems so far out there to me, and most people probably won't want to start collecting a whole new toy line. I'm not saying this thread is not worthwhile. Not at all. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at (its at the edge of my brain, and I just can't grasp it right now - work will do that to you). I guess I'm just trying to explain my personal collecting philosophy.

I'd be curious to hear what non-vinyl collectors (or non-designer vinyl collectors) think of these.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yeah, the Ashley Wood robots definitely count I
> think.
>
> As for this thread, try to resist posting pics of
> every fucking designer vinyl you own! I figure
> some folks here might be at least a little
> interested in them, but if you deluge a post with
> 20 random-ass pics, it turns your brain into
> mashed potatoes.
>
> Just post several pics of ONE toy (or more than
> one if they're closely related)...and talk about
> why you like it and its historical significance,
> if any.

Sounds like a plan. I was just throwing out pics the couple that are my favorites, as those are the ones I'd most like to discuss :P I'm curious to see what other people post to discuss, and if anyone will surprise us with a few things we wouldn't expect. Get Erik in here to talk about his Mad Barons, as I know he digs them for all their classic robot homage.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Anonymous User
I'll throw my item in here, but I feel like we're preaching to the choir thus far. Maybe the thread needs a more deceptive title to get the others in here.

Anyhow.





This is Garumega, made by Shikaruna Koubou. They operate out of a small mom-and-pop antique toy store in Edogawa, Tokyo. Still a family operation, if my understanding is correct. I never found out how they went from selling antique toys to designing modern vinyls.

Garumega is part of S-K's Genjuu line, which are all original designs. They are huge toys- Garumega is about 11-12 inches tall, and 11 inches deep. I am not aware of any historical significance in this design. Garumega almost seems like an antique statue more than a toy- while I don't presume to know much about Japanese art history, it has the intricate detail and sense of movement that I appreciate in woodblock prints and certain Buddhist temple statues. Just look at that shell! Organic, yet premeditated. It mesmerizes me.

S-K toys tend more toward 'vinyl sculptures' than actual toys, but they are a refreshing change from the recycled pop culture stuff done by a lot of other designer vinyl companies.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2010 05:05PM by akum6n.
I'll post pics of my Cronic Camguts...oh wait, I don't have one....DANIEL! ;)

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Where can these designer vinyls be purchased? I have a friend who I got into buying vinyls lately. He may want to have a look at them. I know there's a bunch of hate with the Bandai stuff but he got a good lot of 12 of them for $3.50 a piece. I don't think you can beat that price for quality. And they did spark his interest.

As far as designers, I was thinking of getting these.


Super7's site, grumbletoy, lulubell toy bodega...just off the top of my head....

For info, Kirkland's site is good (http://toybotstudios.blogspot.com/), kaijuchronicle (http://kaijuchronicle.blogspot.com/), and even Daniel's site (http://robotxmonster.blogspot.com/) which is a little more eclectic. Of course, if you want to wade into skullbrain, the water is fine (www.skullbrain.org).

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Erik Sjoen (Admin)
My buddy Joe's website is pretty good for this stuff as well:

[kaijuchronicle.blogspot.com]
Reading is fundamental, Pant Noodle.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Anonymous User
hillsy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'll post pics of my Cronic Camguts...oh wait, I
> don't have one....DANIEL! ;)

Don't think I didn't enjoy the PMs from grown men asking for my Cumguts.
Akum6n, that shell is great! I'd only seen this from the front, but the details on the rear are top-notch. I really dig Shikaruna's Bogun. One day I'll pick one up.

To continue my thoughts from before, I think these designer vinyls are much more open to criticism and harder to accept since there's nothing to compare them to. They're unique creations. That's why its hard for non-collectors to get into this area - its all new and seemingly disparate. Its almost like asking robot collectors to start collecting Star Wars figures. I know many of you do collect both, but to me, Star Wars toys are just that - kid's toys. For some reason, I view chogokin in a different light, although they were originally made for the same purpose.

Unless a design REALLY appeals to you and/or its design is similar to what you already collect, it seems to me that it would be like starting to collect in a whole new area, and thus I generally try to avoid most designer vinyls. However, there are many that do seem to fit well with vintage/modern kaiju characters. Those first two Sanjeev posted, the Mushroom Soup Man Ben posted, and the Garumega, for example, seem to be able to meld in well with known kaiju. But the stuff like the Space Troopers and Gatchigans (and pretty much all of the Real X Head stuff) seem so far off to me. Just my personal opinion.

There are certainly many designer vinyls out there that I really like and I appreciate the quality and care put into the design of many. Dokugans, for example are real nice. And I would love to own Elegab's Monster Patrol Car and Army (though that's pretty out there too). Mark's Tripus is pretty cool, as is his Eyezon.

I'm not trying to throw down the hate. Just opening up discussion and trying to ascertain the general dislike many might have for these.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2010 04:33PM by Kingboy D.
Anonymous User
They're cool and all, imaginative and colorful. And its great to see so many creative folks get their work out as actual products through the vinyl medium. But they're a sore-spot for me because their exclusivity and high prices are counter-intuitive to the great childish fun they're so inherently evocative of.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Haha...Myles, I think you've convinced me to sell my Marnon! :P

But, yeah, I'm not necessarily trying to get people to start collecting this stuff. On one hand, I'm just trying to add some fun content to the site and show off some toys I think are cool. I'm also just trying to let fellow TBDXers know that this shit even exists, that people (who have similar taste) collect it...and ultimately, to see what they think. But you're right: I'd say about 90% of the stuff on skullbrain is nothing I'd want even near the rest of my collection! But taking a step back, I guess you could say that "modern vinyl" (designer or not) runs just as diverse as "modern robot toys".

Daniel, those Shikaruna (or "Siccaluna", if you like) Koubo pieces are amazing. I saw a Garumega in person at Matt Walker's lab. They're huge and the paint is fucking incredible. The thing is, as much as I deeply respect Shikaruna, I really don't have too many of 'em. Like, Garumega's a bit too far off the kaiju-beaten path for me. Some of their other ones like this and the Kappa seem a little too detailed and "realistic", y'know? I'm glad they're being made, and I think Shikaruna's awesome for making them...but not really my thing. That said, their ST four-armed Zagora sculpt is absolutely sick--definitely more classically kaiju. Not to mention their Dagigon, Genjuu Gaezal, and Poseidon (though NOT a designer vinyl, actually...it's a licensed toy of Poseidon from Babel II)...

Anyway, Myles, I don't really think ALL designer vinyls have nothing to compare with. Like, despite my not feeling those realistic Shikaruna pieces I mentioned above, I think you can clearly see how they have evolved from classic Japanese kaiju/kaijin/yokai toys, let alone folklore. The more "urban" shit like Bounty x Hunter or whatever is pretty fucking out there--I'll give you that--but I don't think Bop Dragon, Marnon, and Shikaruna toys are too far off the mark from what Bullmark Ultra kaiju might have evolved into. I guess that may be another point of this thread: I think there's a perception that designer vinyls are cute, weird, punk rock, hipster pieces of shit. Well, I'd like to show that there's definitely PLENTY of designer vinyl toys that are "relevant" to folks like us who are into classic kaiju and whatnot.

And Ray brings up a good point, too: there's definitely the perception that designer vinyls are exclusive and costly. But how funny is that? We, who collect VERY exclusive and costly toys (Japanese robots!) are scared of a close cousin of that genre...because they seem *more* exclusive and costly! Haha...well, I'm not about to dump my collection and start collecting Transformers and Star Wars guys! Anyway, there are definitely some inherent problems with this genre: unlike robot toys, slush-cast Japanese vinyl is a dying medium. Plus, since most of these toys are hand-pulled and hand-painted, most of these one-person operations simply can't make them in large numbers. So as you can imagine, speculation can fuck the hobby over pretty good. And when you add the "counter-cultural" (yeah right) hipster mentality--where you have to collect the "right" toys, listen to the "right" music, and worship the "right" artists--it's easy to run, screaming, from "the scene".

Well, fuck "the scene". We can enjoy the few truly awesome designer vinyl offerings, too. Sure, we may still have to deal with speculation, but it'd be nice to remember that we sure as FUCK shouldn't have to deal with having to be cool in any fucking scenes. And maybe that's yet another reason for this thread.

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
If there was a way to obtain designer vinyls for a "cheaper" cost, I'm sure some of us would at least try it out. It's the same thing when going down the isles at Toys R Us. If we see something cool looking, we'd probably get it and be paying about $10-$15 maximum. Something about buying something new and exclusive for over $50-$100 that stops me from collecting it. This is no fault to the talented designer vinyl makers who probably need to sell these toys at these prices to come out even.


I'm the guy who is willing to pay $$$ for vintage toys so maybe I'm not the one who should say this. Also, I'm never the one to want to spend hundreds of dollars on anything newly released like the SOC line, the Neo Jumbo Mazinger or even those He-man toys on Mattycollector going for $20, but that's just me. But then again, if I had a lot more disposable income, maybe I would try it out cause some of these toys do look awesome.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2010 07:53PM by gaiking123.
I'd like to bring the question of 'who's the artist' into play if I can. Before deciding what's crap and what's not you've gotta consider the person who made said crap. What is the artist aiming for? Who is his target audience? Does he do it for the love of toy or the love of an easy dollar? You gotta think these toys are being made by guys with very diverse backgrounds so their idea of 'toy' might be different from all us robot nerds. And it takes all kinds too. That, I feel, is the beauty of the urban scene. We've got every possible walk of life making this stuff. It's a melting pot of potential.

I'm also seeing the role of the toy maker/fan changing. Right now it's at a stage where it's 'street' to be an urban vinyl artist/enthusiast. (Thank you vinyladdiction.tv)

Also the concept of 'toy' in a round about way has changed in the urban scene. It's now a platform for an artist to either express himself or make some bank. The 'kid' aspect is stripped away in a lot of cases. And in some cases the fun' has been stripped too. I think those two things are what really keeps people like us away from the scene. Listen to JoshB in one of his reviews. He's a big fucking kid. 100%. And he's one of the more level headed mature guys. You think a La Merde fig or a Kozik dunny is going to satisfy that kid? Hell no. It's gotta be a fucking dunny painted like the Blue Noah with a Raideen head sculpt before he'd even consider it.

The basic foundations for the scene are pretty easy to identify but the art thats being accepted in the scene is in a mad flux. Its a hipster chaos tornado of i don't know what. It's kinda hard to jump into a hobby that suddenly hates itself at the drop of a hat.

But in the long run, urban vinyl has a lot to offer. If not the toys, it's the empowerment. Not in a self-help kinda way. It's the knowledge and confidence that anyone can make a toy that really makes me respect the scene.
I like the idea of posting vinyl on this thread to let us know this stuff exists.

That Bramble is definitely a vinyl figure I would be interested in purchasing. What size is the Bramble? The Bop Dragon reminds me of a Godzilla and Gamera hybrid that would be amazing in Garumega or Jumbo size. Are there any Jumbo size, 18" - 24", modern or designer vinyl? Glow figures are definitely cool especially if they came in robot designs.

I would definitely be more interested in the robot style figures, but if a design really appealed to me I would definitely purchase it.
Anonymous User
Great comments, guys. Threads like these remind me not to accept the hobby as-is without question- always seek an objective viewpoint.

@Sanjeev- Ah, if I could distill that last paragraph into an aerosol and spray it all over certain other websites, I would. I've always thought the relationship between tight $50 t-shirts, fugly $200 shoes and vinyl toys was a little questionable. Aren't we toy collecting types supposed to be fashion-impaired? (Don't think I didn't see you guys with the Fargo hats on CDX live chat last week). Maybe it is the in-the-know, niche aspect of collecting designer vinyls that creates the crossover. It's weird. I don't dress like that. More money for toys.

There is a distinction that I draw between collecting expensive vintage robots and designer vinyls. Both are exclusive. The difference is that there is a finite supply of vintage robots. In contrast, there is always a new artist or a new, more limited run of hand-painted designer toys out there. This is also the source of my distaste for the recent trend of Japanese designer vinyl toward artist one-offs and custom shows. Toy collecting- to me- is defined by the fact that there is a defined number of products and variations on said products (i.e., packaging, accessory, paint, etc.). Customizing is cool on its own if you want to make something yourself or improve something that is already out there. But when you turn customs into official product, it reduces the collectible nature of that product.

@servbot30- I don't really see the typical urban vinyl offerings as a toy- more like collectible sculptures. And it's not because of lack of articulation or play value. Hell, I used to play with non-articulated solid plastic dinosaur statues as a kid. They were sharp as fuck and some were heavy enough to club people. On a physical, elemental level they are no different than the blocky platform toys of today.

So what is the difference? I think you are right when you say that the imagination, wonder and fun are stripped away from a lot of the urban vinyls. In a more abstract sense, they are products without soul. Platform toys try to be everything, and therefore fail at being anything. On the other hand, my plastic dinosaurs were probably intended to be the most accurate 3-D rendition of dinosaurs at the time- I can just imagine a bunch of scientists being excited over latest sculpt of Baryonyx. Sort of a purity of purpose. That is what appeals to me about RxH, Dream Rocket, Yamomark and Onell (to name a few). There is a sense of honesty and love that just rolls off their toys like a pheromone.

One last thought. Even as dividing the Kid Robot and Japanese vinyl stuff might seem like splitting hairs to many here, there are even further subdivisions of Japanese vinyls. Many of the guys are in their 30s and 40s and are producing toys based on their memory of Bullmarks and Marusans. There is another generation that builds off the toy and pop culture of the 80s/90s- RxH and Pop Soda come to mind. And then you have stuff like Bounty Hunter that is more like a clothing brand than a toy company. The empowerment (to steal a term from servbot) to create your own toy leads to this kind of diversity that is both amazing and tragic. You have Showten making Votoms vinyls in his garage and David Horvath making JP vinyl Ugly Dolls. And then you have the people that collect these mixed together (and often butting heads) in the crazy, crossbreed world of modern vinyl collecting. It is an interesting scene.
AcroRay Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> They're cool and all, imaginative and colorful.
> And its great to see so many creative folks get
> their work out as actual products through the
> vinyl medium. But they're a sore-spot for me
> because their exclusivity and high prices are
> counter-intuitive to the great childish fun
> they're so inherently evocative of.

Bingo.

More serious than thou
Anonymous User
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> And Ray brings up a good point, too: there's
> definitely the perception that designer vinyls are
> exclusive and costly. But how funny is that? We,
> who collect VERY exclusive and costly toys
> (Japanese robots!) are scared of a close cousin of
> that genre...because they seem *more* exclusive
> and costly!

Yeah, I'd thought about that as I was writing my 2-cents, but shrugged off the comparison internally because vinyl - for me - is a different sort of toy for me. There's a dichotomy there in sofubi for me. I can put a pricey ghokin toy on a shelf and say 'well, its old and/or fragile and pretty', and only occasionally play with it. But vinyl ALWAYS says - 'Play with me! Out in the sandbox! Monster battles!' - and I just can't get over that. Vinyl never says 'art' or 'cottage craftsmanship' when I have it in my mitts, no matter how rare the medium has truly become or how much it justifiably deserves that moniker today. It always maintains its "$5 fun playtime toy" spirit to me.

So, when I see a cool designer-vinyl kaiju, my first thought is "Wow! That'd be so much fun to play with!" But then I see the "Limited to 75: SRP $95" my face gets all frowny and I realize the thing is essentially akin to a hand-made, hand-painted Wonderfest resin kit.

By way of comparison: my wife is a traditional fiber artist. She's skilled and creative in a rare art, right from the sheep (or other materials) all the way to the wardrobe. Her stuff is beautiful and amazing to wear, but her stuff is crazy expensive to make all the hard work worthwhile and there are very, very few people who are into those fiber works and able to pay for them as well. Designer vinyl is like that, to me.

High praise for the craftsmanship, vision and creativity involved. And I support it highly in spirit, at least. And I'm happy to see it flourish! But they're something I'm just personally not able to let myself get into. Perhaps if my economic circumstances or overall collecting habits were different.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2010 10:01AM by AcroRay.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Joshb (servbot30...not to be confused with JoshB), I think you're touching upon something we haven't really talked about yet: urban vinyls. Daniel kinda hit on it in his post, but just to be clear, "urban vinyl" is, I guess, a subset of "designer vinyl". The part that makes it "urban" is that it's Western, for one...NOT Japanese. And it mostly sucks balls.

All right...that wasn't exactly objective...but I hate the shit--whether they're platform toys or not. Just go to kidrobot's website and look at the crap they sell. You wanna try telling me that stuff descends from Japanese monster toys??? Western or "urban" vinyl is generally mass produced stuff rotocast in China (as opposed to slush cast in Japan), and then pad printed or paint masked in a factory (as opposed to airbrushed by hand...by, like, ONE dude). Do these properties, in and of themselves, make the toys bad? Certainly not. I mean, Onell Design's Armodoc is made that way. But look at the styles of these toys. Night and fucking day.

And please, for the love of all that we hold dear, do NOT get me started on what they think is "street".

Anyway, the other thing you hit on is Le Merde's shit. I mean, the whole Grass Hut gang (Le Merde, Martin, Bwana, and whoever else) are hooked up pretty well with Gargamel, arguably the most popular designer vinyl outfit...but they also rep the resin casting, of course. Onell Design, Sucklord, the GodBeast, MonstreHero...all dope resin casters...but I'm not sure if they exactly fit in with this discussion. But, hey, they ARE designer toys...so I guess they do!

But in the end, you're totally right: the key is empowerment. Never before has it been THIS easy for any schmuck to make a marketable toy. Seriously. So...it's a young "industry". There's bound to be a bunch of crap. There's bound to be some true genius. It's kinda fun seeing what's out there, learning who these folks are, and getting involved. Because ya CAN.

Giantbluerobot, there are definitely some vinyls out there you might be interested in. Bandai's Popy/B-Club label has been repro-ing a lot of Bullmark classic kaiju--including the giant-sized ones. I know they're not "designer", per se, but they come in glow and are often dirt cheap! I have a giant Ragon, Windam, Pegassa-seijin, Twin Tail, and a Bell-seijin on the way--all glowie...and not a single one over $30. Also, there are other outfits like M1, Marmit, and Marusan who put out amazing character vinyls of classic kaiju...many in giant-scale (like my giant M1 Garamon. And as for robots, don't forget the KaijuZoo Getter 1 I reviewed!

But as for specifically giant size *designer* vinyls...hmmmm. Daniel? Hillsy? I know Shikarua Koubo put out a SMOKING-hot giant Zagora, but since the Zagora monster is a licensed character, does it count as "designer"? I know Anraku Ansaku--the one designer vinyl maker that seems to drive the elite of the elite into absolute frenzies--has done some giants (Cambodia and Vader)...but like most of their offerings, they do nothing for me.

Daniel, regarding your post above...you're speaking my language, man. Nothing more for me to say...

fujikuro and Ray, again, I feel you guys. I guess the way "it went down for me" was something like this... Years ago, I got into glowies. I mean, I'd always admired vinyl kaiju toys (in general) from afar. I knew there were really expensive/rare vintage Marusan and Bullmark pieces, and I knew there were modern repros by Popy/B-Club and M1, and of course modern sculpts of character kaiju in the classic style by M1, Marmit, and Marusan. But there were just so many, it seemed too daunting a toy-collecting subgenre to get into.

But, see, I love Godzilla and other showa-era kaiju eiga too damn much...and I just couldn't stay away forever. Because of Corey, gods rest his keyboard, I re-discovered my childhood love of glow toys...by way of glowie kaiju! Here was my chance!! I could get into kaiju collecting at a very slow, measured pace by strictly limiting myself to *ONLY* glowies! That way, I could take my time in buying only the pieces I liked...all the while learning about these things.

Well, once you start doing something like that, you really *do* learn pretty fucking fast! I eventually learned where to get these toys cheap (Y!J) and who to go to for questions. Hehe...I remember Daniel schooling me on Dokugan and Gazura when I snagged them offa Y!J just because they looked cool to me! Some of my first designer vinyls...and I had no idea what the fuck they were!

And then, one day, Roger suggested I register over at skullbrain, lurk, learn the rules, and start posting. Since then, I've learned exponentially more...and now that "exclusivity" is even less daunting...

It makes sense, though, right? I mean, before we discovered TBDX, how vast and impenetrable did we find Japanese robots? It's all relative...and I think if you can learn to stomach the hipster-ism of the designer vinyl "community", there are some DAMN cool toys to be had.

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
You writ more than SteveH.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
After having a looooooong talk with Doughty about this exact issue, the way I see it is that there are guys who make 'toys' and they are guys who think they are making 'art' (or, more realistically, 'money'). Guys like Mori (Real X Head), Mark Nagata, Gargamel (seriously), and Doughty himself really are making toys that still invoke all of the 'sandbox' mentality that vinyls were born out of. Real X Head or Max Toy Co toys unfortunately just cannot be as cheap as the vinyls of old if they are to maintain any of their current impeccable quality, so the products become more refined and worthy of the price. If you look at my collection, I've just described 99% of it (plus a bunch of M1GO stuff, but they're so much a toy manufacturer that no discussion is needed), and it's because all the guys I described really are in it to make things that are fun. RxH and Gargamel were embraced by the 'art' weenies and shoe weenies for whatever reason, and especially in RxH's case from what's Matt's told me, it's really sort of distorted the RxH 'idea'. After getting to handle some brand new and upcoming RxH/Onell stuff recently, I've much more appreciation for this idea now, and that's definitely what 'speaks to me' in those toys.

Stuff like Anraku, or that god-forsaken NagNagNag are status-symbols first, trumped up by their self-imposed hype, and lose any and all value to me as 'toys'. In the same way, 'urban' stuff like the Dunny sculpt isn't designed to be a toy, and while at the end of the day I do still think the 'platform' idea is at least a clever experiment, the toys are still no fun for it, and that's why I don't want them.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/04/2010 10:54AM by Prometheum5.
"shoe weenies"

My weenie has never worn a shoe. Maybe a sock, but never a shoe.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
The way I see it:

"Designer Vinyls" or "Boutique Vinyls" can be used to describe the entire category of vinyl toys based on original designs (i.e., non-licensed) that are being marketed towards adults. This includes everything from Kid Robot to Real Head.

"Urban Vinyl" is a subset that depicts subjects that are usually fashion or music oriented.

And "kaiju" is a term that gets misused a lot. Sunguts monsters are kaiju. Secret Base fight figures are not kaiju. Kaiju don't wear pants.
Roger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And "kaiju" is a term that gets misused a lot.
> Sunguts monsters are kaiju. Secret Base fight
> figures are not kaiju. Kaiju don't wear pants.

Yeah, but there's definitely a little kaijin in Real X Head, and they wear shorts. :P The new Adult Chaos body even has classy boots!

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Oh and, I keep going on about fun and forgetting one of my favorites: Elegab!!



I don't think I'll ever be able to decide if Max Toy or Elegab are my favorite true 'kaiju' figures... MTC stuff is so refined, but Elegab stuff is just soo wild and unique!

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Sanjeev (Admin)
hillsy, I just have no life! ;)

Ben, I hear what you're saying. But you think Mark Nagata's toys (MaxToyCo) are really that expensive or hard to find? I mean, I've bought some Captain Maxx figures from my local Newbury Comics. Certainly some of the more recent Japanese slush-cast figures have been more limited (especially the Neo Eyezons), but even they are pretty easy to find...

Well, anyway, toy versus art in the designer vinyl world is as much a relevant discussion as toy versus adult collectible in the modern robot toy world. I feel that everything made by kidrobot (urban vinyl) is centered around mass production and marketing...clearly. When it comes to Japanese stuff, it's harder to judge.

I mean, Anraku...they don't market at all. There's just a private e-mail list of dedicated fans who already outnumber the production runs...so why bother trying to advertise more? I certainly see a lot of people flaunting them as status symbols...but I just don't seem to care about them. The one criticism I've heard is that their prices keep going up...for brand new toys. I dunno...

Now, NagNagNag is just plain garbage. Stoopid fucking toy. Completely manufactured hype. It's classic how duped everyone is. HOWEVER...all that said...I just don't see how anyone's getting rich off of these "toys". I mean, they retail for around $150...which is probably pretty damn close to how much the whole operation costs them.

So...I guess at the end of the day, I can't hate on the economics of a lot of these toys. Shit...I can't even blame NagNagNag for manufacturing this bullshit hype. Hey, it's a hustle...and we ALL hustle. I just find it distasteful...and also more than a little embittering because NO ONE on skullbrain seems to be willing to admit it...

[By the way, Ben, try to put in lots of links in your posts here. Most people have NO fucking clue what we're talking about. For example, if people are curious, they can now go check out the NagNagNag "Go Paranoia" thread to SEE for themselves exactly how hype can be artificially generated.]

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
Sanjeev (Admin)
Roger, you hit the nail on the head. That's exactly how I see it.

And you're right: I think "kaiju" is used way too much. I guess you can call fight figures "kaijin"...but they evolved from TMNT figures, MotU figures, and the like from the US in the 80's...NOT kaiju. And I'm NOT refering to He-Man figures as "kaijin". "Fight figures" works just fine for me.

Oh, and I just wanted to respond to the few references to "platform" toys. First, platform toys are toys designed in a generic pattern that can be customized by their owners...OR toys of said structure that come printed with graphics. Think Kubricks or Mighty Muggs. Well, I don't necessarily think that the concept of the platform toy is bad, but I just think they generally suck as toys.

Now, the original MotU, for example, were platform toys, right? Most of the male characters had the same dwarfish muscly body...with different style feet, forearms, and loincloths. The colorways, head sculpts, and accessories were unique, of course...but the same core figure. And the same goes for the new MotUC series. If they started selling blanks of those MotUC figures, I'd be happy as a pig in shit. They're just *great* toys...
I wouldn't condemn certain products simply because they're not great toys. Look at SOCs, Daigokins, and many others. Are these really toys? While the SOCs have a certain amount of playability, others do not. I'd love to have the Unifive transparent skeleton versions of the classic bots, and those have no moving parts, if I recall correctly. They're just statues. So why shouldn't a vinyl be acceptable if it is static? Is it just because of the media that you expect it to be more? So while platform toys are not necessarily my cup of tea, I wouldn't condemn them in terms of collectibles for others simply because of a lack of playability.
If my post above made it sound like I think Max Toy stuff is overpriced or hard to find, it isn't. Max Toy stuff seems to be effectively 'mass produced' for its market size, and you can typically find whatever you want for reasonable prices, which is great because all of Mark's figures are a ton of fun! I mean, look at this guy:



This is the Max Toy Drazoran, and this version was painted in a small run for a show by Goto. All you need to know is right there... a modern guy using classic techniques and working with 'the guy' to bring a refined toy to market that is exactly that: a refined toy. The Drazoran is big and chunky and full of character and just a blast to mess around with. It won't get you laid, or get you any 'street cred' and good for it, that's not what anyone in this thread is looking for. It's just a fantastic plaything, and really, it would look perfect and almost indistinguishable in a lineup of vintage Ultra and Godzilla kaiju.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/04/2010 04:00PM by Prometheum5.
That SB thread is one of the most unintentionally fucking funny things I have read in a while. I could spend hours analyzing it, but that would give it to much credit.
OK. I have to make a confession. I do own one platform toy, as youse guys call them, although I don't currently have it on display (but only because I don't have room for it). Its this fucker:

[cgi.ebay.com]

There's just something about the egg shape that I dig (much more than any of the other similar type toys/collectibles like this). Or maybe its the wicked skull design that some of you might shit on, though I personally like. But this thing is pretty sizable and truly has a presence. There's even a glow version of it (a GID, hear that Sanjeev?) that's milky white with blue and gray designs, if I recall correctly.

So there. I admit it. I own a KR-worthy toy! Oh, the shame!! (hides face in hands) OK, I picked it up for under $10. There - that's my excuse. It was cheap. :P


(and no, my ownership of this is not the reason why I defend them)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/04/2010 02:42PM by Kingboy D.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Myles, we may be getting off topic, but do we collect toys or do we collect collectibles? Sure, most of the stuff we buy are things that are more or less *designed* to be collected. Like, M1's toys are awesome--fun to play with, fun to display, fun to photograph in compromising positions...but they're not REALLY meant to be played with by children (even if they do mimick the qualities of classic Marusans and Bullmarks). I guess I'm not looking for a definitive answer here...I think the answer's actually different for everyone...

Ben, I don't know what you're talking about. I *definitely* collect toys to get laid. You've seen my bedroom. That's 100% player right there! ;) [and fix your image links, dude!]

Ha! JoshB (not to be confused with Joshb...servbot30...I just can't bring myself to call him that!), isn't that thread pure, unadulterated insanity??? You can actually sense the IQ's dropping with every post. That "Alice" guy plays 'em like a fiddle...it's fucking classic. And what's real frightening is that it really doesn't take much AT ALL to do it. No, but seriously: *keep* analyzing it! It's really eye-opening!

Thankfully, this kind of hype/mob-mentality/mass hysteria isn't the norm. Or, at the very least, it's never THIS bad. And fortunately, thanks in part to the tanking economy, there's a rising backlash against the hype engine. People are starting to complain more and more whenever fervors start getting whipped up with no warning as soon as a new flavor is introduced. Anyway, there's definitely more to discuss regarding the economy of designer vinyl...

Myles, I expect you to report to your local termination center tomorrow at dawn. :P

Nah, that's far from the worst thing in the world I've seen. I generally think skulls are overused in modern toys, but what the fuck do I know? I just bought this motherfucker (two Secret Base "Dr. Mortality" figures: one with a red-glow cloak, one with an aqua-glow dude...I just mashed 'em together). And as for my platform toys, well, I obviously buy MotUC figures here and there, but as for more urban vinyl-style ones, I have a few Mighty Muggs of Marvel comic characters...so there just aren't any absolutes in the crazy game!

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
Well, if we're gonna talk straight up which toys are making me hard right now, I'm officially allowed to drop this:



I've already loved all over the Adult Chaos body sculpt, and Matt uses it to its fullest under the head sculpt and knock-out paint work by Goto. The weapon arm is killer, and the bright red scarf hits all the right Real X Head love spots. I'll be reviewing this, and posting it at the time of the release, which is finally imminent.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
"I've already loved all over the Adult Chaos body sculpt"

From the pic above, I think you might have hit the wrong one. Gotta watch the spray, man.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
I normally lump all new vinyl under 'urban vinyl' out of habit. It's kinda silly and naive. In hindsight I should easily recognize there are sub groups under the 'designer' genre. My bad.

But since resin was brought up, here's a guy that totally tickles my fancy. Kindom Mind by Restore/Abe Junnosuke. The thing is the size of a crayboth . Loaded with tons of detail. The crown can be removed and worn as a ring and the key can be worn as a necklace. It runs round 30$ and looking at the craftsmanship, its totally worth it.
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