[DESIGNER VINYLS] Hot or Not?

Posted by Sanjeev 
<<<The Nekobot is pretty cool,good point. And no,I will NEVER stop listening to the Smiths. I do think the designer vinyl thing will end up being destructive to the hobby in the long run,just like all the stupid gimmicks that killed comics in the 90s.>>>>>>>

But the comics industry was never killed. The true fans who read comics in the beginning continued to read it just like now. The many new fickle fans who created the boom in the early nineties eventually left but they weren't going to stay anyways. Most of us who were collecting vintage Chogokin in the late nineties are probably going to be continue collecting the stuff no matter whatever happens to the hobby. I got to admit, my tastes have changed through the years but the constant of what I collect is Japanese Vintage Toys.

I have nothing against designer vinyl. If someone can find a way to make money off these then more power to them. Toys are a business. If someone sees they can make some money off something, you'll find every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to give it a shot.

Designer vinyl isn't for me but I won't condemn it.

BTW, who is out there collecting these things? I live in Southern California and never have I ever heard anyone talk about this stuff. Someone said hipsters? I've been to hipster bars and I see no discussion at all. Is this more of an East Coast thing?
Scopedog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> fujikuro Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Nag Nag Nag... eh, no thank you. Anything I
> think
> > I could make easily (albeit in a different
> medium)
> > just as well isn't something I'd buy. It looks
> > like something a 10 year old made in art class.
>
> A lot of designer vinyl and urban vinyl evokes the
> hastily scribbled doodles from a high school
> student's notebook.

That's part of why I hesitate to call it "art." I'm an admitted snob about that sort of thing. If it takes little planning and little thought, then is it art? You could say that this object did take planning and thought. Possibly, and probably it did. I want "art" to look like it though.

More serious than thou
Getting into a "what is art" conversation is much like discussing religion and or politics.

Your going to get another 4 pages of heated debate and not change anyone's mind.

I have spent enough time at design crits, presentaions and art school bs in the past 20 years to know I don't have the stomach for it anymore if I am not getting paid for it. ;-)


Thats not to say my previous posts actually reflect all my feelings about "art". Visual expression is funny. It seems to have a different set of rules that are vague at best in the mainstream world, as say compared to music.

You know when someone can't play their instrument well. With painting or some other art forms, it becomes less PC to say so, or more difficult to explain how lack of technical discipline or thought can affect a work. I was a bit of a traditionalist at Risd in the 90s, when the painting department there was in the midst of their "modernist" phase, and most painters looked down on the illustration department because representational work was considered "kitch".

My point is not that any style is more relevant of valid, rather, that expression without thought or if you have to explain a piece away in order to support it's reason for being, then you do in a sense lose the meaning in the message.

But it is hard to explain to some people the importance of learning rules and process before you break them.

Anyway I don't wont to drone, so will stop there.
Sanjeev (Admin)
servbot, I'm sure the physical quality on the NagNagNag figure is just fine (same thing with the price). If there were ZERO hype and it were cheap and easy to find, I still wouldn't want it, though. Like the others have said, the biggest turn-off for me is not the unappealingness of the actual physical toy--it's that mob mentality. The "fuck the USA" nonsense is no more or less a shallow gimmick than dicks and pussies in a lot of "art". And in this particular case, it's done its job...brilliantly.

Roger's "white barbarian" interpretation is interesting...but again, even if that was the intent of the artist, I just don't see it as part of sincere expression. It's just another facet of the affectation he's employing (again, my cynical gut instinct). ANYWAY....at this point, we're talking about it as art, not a fucking toy. I don't collect art and I really just don't care to. I collect toys. As a toy, this doesn't impress me in the slightest...and I'm not particularly interested in discussing it as "art".

[Oh, but before it totally abandon the "artistic" value of this toy, check out the fucking header art copying those licensed characters. It's about as tacky as Greg's reply to Mark K. I don't have a problem with Greg or Joel, but disrespecting an awesome guy like Mark K is like the douchebags around here who used to hate on Uncle Warren.]

And Matt (and JoshF), we get the "Fuck the USA"/"Made in occupied Japan" reference, but it's "cool" to be anti-establishment, remember? Please don't fall for it! ;)

--
Sanjeev

'Us Massholes straight up just don't give a fuck. I still pronounce "Mazinger" as "Tranzor Z".'
-Nekrodave
josh fraser Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But it is hard to explain to some people the importance of learning rules and
> process before you break them.

I agree with this. I think alot of designer/urban vinyl artists are probably very talented and can easily create art beyond high school student caliber. However, their vinyls don't often reflect that. The only vinyls I've paid a premium for is the Scopedog and Fatty from Sakamoto Showten, V.I.N.CENT. from MINDstyle and Nekosaur. I also have a couple of cheap Bandai vinyls like Hedorah and something called Bio Planet Woo both of which I purchased on a whim and am very pleased with. I can't imagine being enthused about the original stuff posted in this thread so far (except Centauron) especially with the suggested prices. No one can possibly argue that designer vinyl requires the same level of planning, engineering, and skill required by even the least sophisticated limited-production transforming robot toy, such as the i-gear Autoscout, or the most sophisticated, such as the Fansproject Defender triple-changer. I understand that some of these evoke a certain style of toy from the past and I can respect that.



Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Roger's "white barbarian" interpretation is interesting...but again, even if
> that was the intent of the artist, I just don't see it as part of sincere
> expression. It's just another facet of the affectation he's employing (again,
> my cynical gut instinct). ANYWAY....at this point, we're talking about it as
> art, not a fucking toy. I don't collect art and I really just don't care to.
> I collect toys. As a toy, this doesn't impress me in the slightest...and I'm
> not particularly interested in discussing it as "art".

All publicity is good publicity. He succeeded in gaining exposure, and stirring controversy. It doesn't matter if this item succeeds or fails, he will probably draw similar attention for anything he does in the future.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2010 05:36PM by Scopedog.
Attachments:
open | download - Bio Planet Woo.jpg (94 KB)
josh fraser Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Getting into a "what is art" conversation is much
> like discussing religion and or politics.
>
> Your going to get another 4 pages of heated debate
> and not change anyone's mind.
>

Absolutely. So, why do I persist? I dunno.

>
> But it is hard to explain to some people the
> importance of learning rules and process before
> you break them.
>

That's the question here. If it's a "toy" then we don't even have to worry about it. If someone's trying to say it's "art" then we do have to wonder if the person responsible is truly producing a piece that's got a real message or if they're merely trying to tweak someone.

It sounds like we're talking about someone whose intent was purely crass commercialism, and that's more than fine. Merely my own opinion, but it strikes me as a toy created by someone much better at creating the hype than they are at creating a toy/piece of art. It APPEARS to be so poorly designed that one would think the creator had no clue of what they were doing. Was that intentional? Who knows. One way or the other, I sure as hell wouldn't buy it.

It's the hype aspect of things that turns me off to this corner of the industry. The hipster thing IS there and prevalent whether it affects you personally or not. Unfortunately, I am unable to divorce myself from the effects of it.

On the real topic here, there ARE certain vinyls that I do like the look of, and given space and an independently wealthy status I probably would buy. Given my general lack of either of those things, I'll just have to admire the pieces I do like from afar. My desire to hold heavy chunky clicky toys will always take precedence.

More serious than thou
Scopedog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> All publicity is good publicity. He succeeded in
> gaining exposure, and stirring controversy. It
> doesn't matter if this item succeeds or fails, he
> will probably draw similar attention for anything
> he does in the future.

Certainly successful for him in terms of commercial ventures. Something I can respect? Hell no. Especially not when ripping off other people's intellectual property. Shit, I can't even look at the Sucklord stuff without wondering amazedly how he's managed to get by without being sued by Lucas.

More serious than thou
"All publicity is good publicity. He succeeded in gaining exposure, and stirring controversy. It doesn't matter if this item succeeds or fails, he will probably draw similar attention for anything he does in the future."




I agree. I went and read the posts on SB for the first time to see if my reaction would change based on actually being aware of the background of NagNagNag pieces.


Yeah I admit, it turned me off somewhat, and was amusing to see how passionate people are over this. It seems the hype machine worked and now there are two websites seemingly writing/debating about it. I am sure even more.

If anything the header card annoys me simply because of the lack of originality that it took to barely alter well known designs. Context was not even changed to make any meaning to why the characters were used in that way. Though I imagine many people who buy it might not even know what the originals were taken from to begin with. Oh well.

This is why I collect vintage. :-) Less drama.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2010 12:50PM by josh fraser.
There's a lot of talk about the high price tags on these items. Its true that most of these are priced high upon release. However, price should not be a real impediment, as most of these can be found real cheap on the secondary market. Items that initially sold for $80 - $120 can be had for $30 - $60 on Skullbrain, ebay, and even YJ if you don't mind waiting a few months (after the hype dies down). Maybe that's a scary concept in itself (the items not holding their worth). But if you like a figure enough to consider buying it as long as the price is what you personally consider to be reasonable, then there are options for obtaining these possibly within your budgetary constraints.

P.S. Some items do hold or increase their value over time, like the Anraku Ansaku stuff. But many do not seem to retain their value.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2010 04:04PM by Kingboy D.
Sanjeev (Admin)
fujikuro Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Scopedog Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
>
> > All publicity is good publicity. He succeeded
> in
> > gaining exposure, and stirring controversy. It
> > doesn't matter if this item succeeds or fails,
> he
> > will probably draw similar attention for
> anything
> > he does in the future.
>
> Certainly successful for him in terms of
> commercial ventures. Something I can respect?
> Hell no. Especially not when ripping off other
> people's intellectual property. Shit, I can't
> even look at the Sucklord stuff without wondering
> amazedly how he's managed to get by without being
> sued by Lucas.


Well, that's not necessarily always true. Skullbrainers, as a whole, can be a fickle bunch. They can turn on a producer as quickly as they can deify him. Like, they pretty much chased Frank Kozik off the board years ago because he said he didn't care about Japanese kaiju and was only in it for the money. Whether he was trying to drum up hype or not, it got him e-lynched...and now, no one will touch his work...

As for Sucklord's stuff, I actually think it's genius. No lie. That guy's fucking nuts (in a brilliant way). I don't see his work as stealing others' intellectual property as much as just straight up clever parodies of classics. Like, his StarStak figure blows my fucking mind. Oh...and he has done legit work for Lucas, so he's definitely in their good graces...
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, that's not necessarily always true.
> Skullbrainers, as a whole, can be a fickle bunch.
> They can turn on a producer as quickly as they can
> deify him. Like, they pretty much chased Frank
> Kozik off the board years ago because he said he
> didn't care about Japanese kaiju and was only in
> it for the money. Whether he was trying to drum up
> hype or not, it got him e-lynched...and now, no
> one will touch his work...

If its a a nice toy, why does any of that stuff matter? The work should be able to stand on it's own merits and the quality or talent should speak for itself. It seems like scarcity, hype, and exclusivity play a conspicuous role in how designer vinyl is judged. I understand that most of you claim to be more objective, and I'm going to take your word for it. However, if the NagNagNag thread is any indication, skullbrain.org is a mess.
"However, if the NagNagNag thread is any indication, skullbrain.org is a mess."

It would be accurate to say that the thread is a microcosm of the entire board. Or mess is fine, too. ;)

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
I am pretty happy character tin is a relatively benign food group.
Anonymous User
Scopedog Wrote:
------------------------------------------------------->
...

> If its a a nice toy, why does any of that stuff
> matter? The work should be able to stand on it's
> own merits and the quality or talent should speak
> for itself. It seems like scarcity, hype, and
> exclusivity play a conspicuous role in how
> designer vinyl is judged. I understand that most
> of you claim to be more objective, and I'm going
> to take your word for it. However, if the
> NagNagNag thread is any indication, skullbrain.org
> is a mess.

The reason personalities come into play is that there is a very direct link between manufacturer/artist and the consumer for designer vinyls. You can go into the RxH shop on nearly any given night and talk to Katsura Mori, who founded the line. Even the term 'toy company' is sort of misleading in that it is usually one or two guys cranking out the toys. While it is undoubtedly cool to be able to have that direct line, it unfortunately means that the toy makers' personalities are very often ascribed to their toys, or vice versa (no degree of separation as there would be for a company like Bandai or Takatomy). Personal sculpting and painting style of the maker also plays a part. Very difficult to separate the toys from the people.

One sort of strange reversal caused by this 'scene' is the demand for toys painted by "Goto-san." Mr. Goto (I don't even remember his first name) is an old guy who used to paint Marusans and Bullmarks back in the day. For I don't know how long, he has been acting as the 'factory' painter for a few of the new companies (including the Japanese Max Toy Co. pieces and RxH). Once the designer vinyl crowd learned of his existence, there was a huge upswing in demand for "Goto-san paints." I find this humorous because the guy was basically a very skilled line worker back in the 70s, but he has since been elevated to superstar artist level once people learned about him. Granted there are not very many people left that can still crank out 50 identical, hand-painted toys in a cost-efficient manner.

Not that I question his abilities at all- but I see him as an odd byproduct (or perhaps victim) of this obsession with toymaker-consumer relationships. Unfortunately, Mr. Goto's eyesight is going down the tubes and I frankly blame all the people that are clamoring for his services. Hope he is at least making a decent living doing this.
I looked up the word "fight figure" on google and couldn't find anything definitive. I think "colorway" means repaint and I think "RxH" is RealxHead but alot of this jargon is unfamiliar to me. Can we maybe get a list of some of this vocabulary and definitions, or maybe get pointed to a site that explains it?
Anonymous User
Fight figure = Quasi-SD figure, usually about 5-6" tall. Legs are usually squatty, but arms are more elongated than normal SD toys. The name comes from- I believe- the first such toy, the Fink-Shit, which was dressed in kick-boxing garb because of the designer's background in martial arts.

This term is generally applied to the early designer vinyls by Secret Base, Gargamel and RealxHead (aka, RxH) many of which were dressed in boxing, wrestling or MMA clothing. Super7 published an article that grouped Cronic and Blobpus figures in with fight figures, but I would argue that this is inaccurate since they were never intended to be martial arts type toys (despite sharing similar proportions). Same goes for RxH to an extent.

Colorway = variant. I don't know how this term got started. The practice of varying paint schemes for one sculpt comes from the vintage Bullmarks and Marusans. Most famously: the Hawaii export and Hawaii domestic Bullmark variant paints.

Anything else?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2010 06:55PM by akum6n.
Take a smurf, stick boxing gloves on its hand and replace the head with a Madball. That's a fight figure.

Scopedog, you are dead on with "colorway," although you have to extend your pinky when you type it.
Colorway = ugh. Just say it's a variant. The skin on my pinky crawls when I see that word.

More serious than thou
colorway? I did 20 colorways today for a running shoe. The most banal process ever.


you guys are hilarious.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2010 01:24AM by josh fraser.
Sanjeev (Admin)
I think "variant" makes a ton more sense than "colorway" simply because the term "color" makes me think only of paint. The way "colorway" is used refers to type of vinyl (colored opaque, clear, colored translucent, glow, double-cast translucent/glow, etc.), paint scheme/colors, AND inserts (if any). That's a lot of stuff!

Anyway, whatever. I guess the pretentiousness of "colorway" never bothered me. If people started typing it as "colourway", however...then we'd have a problem... ;)

As for "fight figure", yes, I think you guys have explained how it's used now quite well...but I think there's a solid historical piece there. See, modern ST (standard-sized) kaiju (designer or not) toys obviously come from the size and proportions used by most of the classic Marusans/Bullmarks from back in the day.

Modern Japanese vinyl fight figures come from various US toy lines from the 80's. Think MotU, TMNT, Madballs head-popping figures, Street Sharks/Extreme Dinosaurs, Starriors... They're sorta meant to look mean, badass, and cutesy all at once.
I think Japanese fight figures owe more to Tiger Mask, Kinnikuman, and real-life Wrestling than anything American.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Well, that's definitely important to note. The "fight" in fight figures certainly has history in Japan. But Mori has said that one of his prime influences were the Playmates TMNT figures. I think the influences on subject matter are very Japanese, as you've said, but the *actual* size and proportions of the figures, themselves, seem American...
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think "variant" makes a ton more sense than
> "colorway" simply because the term "color" makes
> me think only of paint. The way "colorway" is used
> refers to type of vinyl (colored opaque, clear,
> colored translucent, glow, double-cast
> translucent/glow, etc.), paint scheme/colors, AND
> inserts (if any). That's a lot of stuff!

I have a feeling that colorway is probably a literal translation of a set of Japanese or Chinese characters that has a more common translation. The literal translation probably caught on because it contributes to the mystique and novelty of the subculture surrounding the product.
No, it's just Americans using a fancy word to try and convince themselves they're doing something other than buying toys. ;p
Ha,

The word existed well before designer vinyl. They just adopted it because it is an industry standard term. Are we going to start another thread debating how it makes us feel uncomfortable?


Lets all hold hands and say the word together.

"colorway".

It will be ok.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2010 02:35PM by josh fraser.
The discomfort comes from the fact that it's a term used by designers, not kids.
Deja vous.

[skullbrain.org]

(And many of you were already involved in that conversation!)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2010 02:42PM by Kingboy D.
mcfitch (Admin)
This thread has been suitable derailed.

My thoughts; whatever. It's just not what I buy but I can see some merit in some pieces as toys and as art. It's up to each individual to judge that for themselves. I don't give a fuck about the designer's motives be it creation, artistic expression, or making money in the same way that I don't give a fuck about Go Nagai's motives. The dude was working a job to get paid. He may have had a great deal of fun doing it, and he may have been trying to express himself, but at the end of the day it was his job. I don't see this as any different.
-Mason

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matthewalt &quot;I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!&quot;
Roger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> No, it's just Americans using a fancy word to try
> and convince themselves they're doing something
> other than buying toys. ;p

I'm sure that is true more often than many collectors would like to admit. I also don't like the term "piece" (which you mentioned in the linked skullbrain thread) or "action figure". When I talk about my hobbies I say that I collect "japanese robot toys". I think thats much more transparent than "mecha figures" or something.
Oh, "piece" has always bugged me, too. It's like a code word you use for pornography when you're in public.

You know what I like to do? Call every Japanese monster "Godzilla." "Oh, you have a big collection of Godzillas here!" "Wow, that's a really cool Godzilla, the one with the zebra stripes!" "What's the name of the Godzilla that looks like a snail?"
Sanjeev (Admin)
Namegon. :P
I barely got through cutting my asymmetrical hair and taking off my Obey trucker hat, let alone unlearning my trendy vocabulary.

I need time to grow into this.

;-D



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2010 07:03PM by josh fraser.
Anonymous User
So how many pieces was the run of the GID colourway of that Godzilla that looks like a snail?
Go ask Alice. I think he'll know.
On topic, good interview with Frank Kozik is up:

[blog.neonmonster.com]
Very good interview. I've gained respect and a better insight from reading it. Props, Roger.
That was an excellent read and refreshing to hear him outline how the industry actually works. Realistic and honest about how there has to be a balance between personal vision and a consumer need. Early on in my carreer as a sneaker designer, I resisted the idea of designing for mass appeal but realized the importance of paying one's bills and making your brand suceed by doing the projects that have the broadest demographic potential. It allows you to do the cool personal shit on the side and gives you enough clout to be taken seriously by your investors. Let's not forget these toys are a business, and if we did not have people making things that sold outside the hardcore or fringe markets, the process of getting the variety we have available would be much harder. Too many creative people forget that listening to your basic consumer is not selling out, as much as it is just solid business sense.

Thanks for posting that Roger.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2010 03:07AM by josh fraser.
Sanjeev (Admin)
The interview wasn't bad. I don't mind Kozik. I can dig his hustle.

I tend to favor fan-first people like Matt Doughty and even now Alen with his Neko line-up, though. They make toys because they pretty much have to. These endeavors are pretty much financial liabilities--you're lucky as hell if you just break even...but they do them anyway. That love shows through in their work.

But back on topic. Now that the first "round" of discussion has died down a bit, I think it's time to bring out our next contestant. And speaking of Kozik...




These are "fight figures" from Mori Katsura of Real x Head. I'm not a big collector of these, so Ben (and maybe Hillsy and Daniel) can post pics of better examples, but these particular figures really appeal to me. Kozik painted the guy on the far left and far right.

That one-eyed sculpt is "Mutant Chaos" (well, the unpainted GID on the right is technically "Chaos Beast")...he's like a constantly mutating blob-dude who can absorb your genetic makeup or whatever through that probe thingy on his left hand(?). The dude in the center is "Mutant Evil" in the "Kabuki" colorway (for obvious reasons). I just think that looks hot. He's like a bad-guy-turned-good. And there's a couple mini's in the front ("Mutant Head" on the left, "Mutant Chaos" on the right).

Actually, Ben did a great write-up of their story on CDX. I think they're fun, again, NOT because they make great kaiju toys, but because they're like high-quality versions of the He-Man and TMNT (etc.) toys I used to play with when I was a kid. They evoke those same play patterns...in me, anyway.

I don't imagine them as being giant--crushing cities or flooding their streets with thermonuclear death--I picture them human-sized and kicking much ass. Anyway, whaddaya think? Hot or not?

--
Sanjeev

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2010 05:59PM by Sanjeev.
Attachments:
open | download - 192_9207.jpg (165.4 KB)
open | download - 192_9208.jpg (121.1 KB)
I vote for "not." I always thought those "mutant" designs were an asymmetrical mess, just the product of random sculpting instead of trying to establish an actual character design. On top of that they're 40% to 50% head, like Garbage Pail Kids.

Thumbs up for the taxidermy eyes, though. I like that.
Really? I think the later sculpted figures like Hone Borg, Warubone, or even Gatchigon, the figures really show a distinct sculpting 'voice' and aesthetic. The Mutant body is a little bland, but it was a fledgling effort that took off. The way Mori found ways to modify the Mutant body with additional parts and swap around body plans to create unique figures really brings it home for me. I mean, you take this guy:



A Mutant Head, and combine it with this guy:



A Mutant Chaos, and you get:



A Fighter Chaos,



A Chaosman, and then add a newly sculpted body cover and get:



An Orghan Bat... with just amazing paint work and a totally rad sculpt. Fun to boot.

And then we get to the later sculpted stuff, when Mori really starts bringing his A-game (reviews in the pipes :P)



The Adult Chaos sculpt, and Chaos Beast, which I love dearly. I'd say which were my favorites, but I was home last week on break and rearranged my Real X Head collection again, and ended up falling in love with and messing around with almost every sculpt on a different day. Sanjeev has the emails where when I first discovered vinyl I thought RxH was stupid because the sculpts had goofy proportions and all looked the same, but something clicked with me and now I just completely fucking love them all. I don't really like any other fight-figures, but RxH as a line all unto itself just really speaks to me, both in how fun the figures are to mess with and the real love and appreciation for the craft Mori exhibits. I tell people I collect standard sized kaiju and Real X Head. No substitutes.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

footer