[DESIGNER VINYLS] Hot or Not?

Posted by Sanjeev 
Sanjeev (Admin)
Hey...it's a vinyl party on TBDX! Eeeexcellent...

Hehe...you knew I was gonna drag you into this one, Ed! And, yes, I know I'm in trouble for not watching Toy Punks yet. I'll try to watch it before the Summit so we can discuss.

Well, I like hearing what everyone's thinking regarding the "designer" term. Thing is, I'm not sure what the alternative is. Going back to what liquidsky was saying, "vintage" obviously makes sense, but I'm still confused about "modern" versus "contemporary". The words normally mean the same thing, right? M1 is certainly modern licensed kaiju, but Elegab and Real x Head are both non-licensed kaiju(-ish) toys...but what's the contemporary-modern distinction.

Based on what I see among fans locally and reading between the lines on skullbrain, there sorta seems to be a few schools of thought. One is all about vintage stuff...licensed or not, bootleg or not. That's fine because they're pretty easy to categorize. Next seem to be the "true" kaiju people. These are the folks who collect vintage-style (really, Marusan/Bullmark-style) kaiju, whether they're licensed or not (think those who collect licensed Marmits and M1's and designer/non-licensed kaiju like MaxToys, Dream Rocket, or Yamomark). And finally, there are those who collect the more urban-ish stuff like fight figures and other unique stuff that you probably wouldn't see fighting Ultraman!

Anyway, I've been thinking more of this punk/hardcore thing, and I guess I'm starting to get it a little. I mean, we're a generation that was raised on media directed straight at us, and diverse toylines to go with those shows and movies. It's not surprising we have fond memories of toys. Now, modern vinyl, in general, is pretty underground. I guess you could say that punk and hardcore are sorta underground forms of music. I can only really speak of hip hop, which has now pretty much gone underground since it's become so commercialized in the mainstream. Anyway, a certain amount of dedication is required to be into these things and maybe that's why punk-folks are into these toys. I dunno...just a theory, I guess. It's just too bad that the aforementioned fanboyism (attitudes of entitlement and establishment of the coolness-heirarchy) and the "shopping" mentality have fucked things over pretty good...

I like how you guys mentioned the lack of critical discussion on skullbrain. I've made a few posts somewhat recently that have been critical of things, and people lose their fucking minds. Heh...perfect example: I simply said that Mishka/Lamour Supreme's latest glow "Bootleg" figure doesn't glow for shit. No venom or harshness in my language; I literally said just that. I've also already been established in the thread as being a big fan of the design...and I mentioned that I not only HAVE the glow Bootleg, but that I also love it! Well, just because I simply said that it doesn't glow for shit, a bunch of people started crying about like I just punched their moms. What the fuck...grow a pair.

liquidsky, thanks for posting more BXH stuff. That DX Skull-kun with the Walder helmet and guts is kinda neat. Wouldn't want one...but I can see the appeal. The others...not so much. Ed showed me the Monster Family stuff a while back. I don't hate some of them (like the Garuru and the Fire Robo), but I don't like any enough to want to buy. Again, the quality is nice and everything, but they're just not kaiju enough for me.
I think everything just boils down to "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". It seems an over simplified saying but remains true. I mean if you hang around in this hobby long enough you develop an eye for what has come and gone, what influences certain designs and paint apps, what vintage figures helped in the development of newer designs. You can see the patterns. You can see when people make effort in their approach and when they're being lazy.

This might be the wrong example as certain toys in their line remain "hot" and unattainable but a company like Zollmen appeals to me for the simple fact that I can see classic and vintage styling in their toys. Someone who goes for that "vintage feel" like myself is going to like that stuff, in the same way someone who likes smoother cleaner looking things might go for the S7 line or say Gargamel. Also they produce a very interesting line up of characters that are all over the place. Hype has died off somewhat on them (save Maza or Badzilla) so they remain in my price range. Once a toy reaches a certain price range with me, no matter how appealing I kind of tune out.


I completely agree with Sanjeev about skullbrain. It's pretty much is a mine field one has to be wary of when navigating through it. One wrong move and the trolls do come out. Not as bad as in the past but I think that has a lot to do with older members leaving and a greater influx of noobs. I really wish there would be more critical discussion instead of cheering for everything, but moaning about a toy seems very frowned upon.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2010 05:47PM by Lixx.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Wow...lots more posts...

Okay, well, that KAWS Dissected does absolutely nothing for me. In fact, I kinda think it's terrible. But then again, I think most modern Gundam toys/designs are terrible, too, so what can ya do??? :P

I guess that KAWS joint--and modern Gundams, for that matter--sorta lack charm in my mind. I like vintage-style kaiju toys because they have a silly sort of aesthetic to them. Older robot toys are big and clunky. That shit appeals to me. No KAWS toy (or artwork) has ever appealed to me in that childish way.

Anyway, I think what S7 is doing with the Monster Family thing is smart, too. I mean, with the economy and most people running out of room(!), smaller seems to be the "big" thing now. I mean, look how stupidly well Glyos figures are selling. Again, not my thing....but it's a smart business move. Real x Head...yeah, there seems to be a bit of burn-out on a lot of folks' parts. The stuff still sells absurdly well, though, so maybe it's the "strike while the iron's hot" mentality? But I agree: the wood sculpts at SDCC were terrible and the "adult" (non-fight-figure) guys are still sorta meh to me. I think the minis were a fantastic idea, but the overproduction apparently blew most people's minds.

liquidsky, I get what you mean about having different colorways of the same sculpt. I have quite a few doubles, and sometimes even triples, of my glowie kaiju. Obviously, that's nothing compared to a lot of folks having dozens of one sculpt, but that's the thing about being as focused as I am on glowies of more traditional kaiju. Like, I have three glowie colorways of the M1 Matango. But I'm pretty sure only three glowies of the M1 Matango *exist*! And I'm totally with ya: how multiple colorways of the same sculpt on your shelf can look amazing!

And regarding the *amount* of paint applied to a figure...I guess it all depends on the situation. I've seen RxH figures with tons of paint on them that looked divine to me. And I think like Ben said, it could be relative to the amount of detail in the sculpt. Like, flip the script: look at the Mongolion. Sculpt does absolutely nothing for me, but most of the stock colorways have been super-basic sprays. And most of them have been pretty awful. They just sorta look unfinished. I've seen a few customs, however, that looked insane (gatchabert's?): people either picked out the right details to apply additional paint to, or they sprayed in such a way as to create a fading affect to shade/highlight that surface detail more as it extends from the rest of the geometry.

Oh, and remember KaijuZoo's Jet Jaguar customs? If those toys were suffocating, they sure looked like they died well!

On the other hand, being a glow nut, I personally prefer less paint...but I'm also acutely aware of how repetitive those colorways are. I guess each case is different. And since I mainly collect more traditional kaiju (i.e., toys that aren't released in a 1000 different colorways), I don't have to worry about 37 different "rub" colorways!

Ohh...glad you brought up Zollmen, Lixx. Whoever they are, they do some absolutely killer shit [edit: oh, except for that racist "jiggaboo" toy...and the Nazi figure??? what the fuck!?]. Even Erik went nuts for their Mad Baron sculpt. VERY classic. But, yeah, we like what we like, as Roger often says. I like seeing the patterns and picking out what colorways are based on what classic toys...but I guess a big problem leading to burn-out among a lot of people is that we're *bombarded* by these patterns all the fucking time. Like Ed said, there's just SO much product out there now...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2010 10:27AM by Sanjeev.
Anonymous User
Good God, you're all here. The problem with Skullbrain is that it has turned into a haven of ass-kissing in order to get hook-ups from this or that artist. No one wants to voice unpopular opinions lest they get cut out. This is directly related to the DIY trend mentioned by LS some posts back. I am not a fan of that trend for a variety of reasons. Not that I dislike customs- the trouble I see is that many customizers seem to be in it for self-promotion rather than self-expression. A lot of people have a 'style' that they impose on every toy to come through their hands and it gets really ugly.

Despite the general consensus, I feel like RxH has really hit its stride and matured. To survive, a lot of other companies either went for the high-end custom market or the mass-appeal market. RxH walked the line and collaborated with a lot of different artists and grew his customer base without alienating any one group. I don't like all of it, but it is good to see the variety and I appreciate that he produces 'risky' toys, like the Miroku RxH or the mascot-style minis. To be certain, there was a lull in 2008 after he opened the store where there was a lot of mediocre product coming out.

@Sanjeev- I may or may not be right re: G's licensing. No one has ever come up with a definitive answer that they were willing to share on a public forum. I suspect that they did the Zagoran before anyone knew about the old patchi-kaiju or who held what rights. To me, the Zagoran is the only real offender, since there was an actual standard size toy that is fairly similar in appearance (notice that they never make standard size versions of some of the minis). But now, hundreds of sales later, it is a little late to go back and ask for permission on that one.
Warrhead Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Off topic, but anyone else here see a resemblance
> between Josh B's recent CDX shirt and Pushead's
> work? Is this old news to everyone but me?

You caught that.

This is an interesting subject. I try to keep my art and my toy business separate. I've been drawing this kind of art ever since I got my first Septic Death 45, my first Zorlac skateboard, and of course Pushead's art from Metallica's Master of Puppets tour shirts. I was an impressionable youth back in '86.

You can check out my art here: [quibx.com]

I don't think my art is on par with Pushead, or his more famous imitators - mike sutfin, Brian mercer et all.. But It's what I do.

I began to dip my toes into this designer toy world with the opportunity to do some toys with Kaiju Big Battel and Marmit. The first one did OK, the second one, not so much. I got the impression that maybe KBB was too commercial for the crowd, and Marmit was seen as a lesser vinyl manufacturer as opposed to things made by rxh or something. I passed on the opportunity to do the third, instead to focus on maybe doing my own.

I had a design all made up, and then Sutfin comes out with MadBattleMan - pretty much what I was thinking of doing. Knowing how fickle the crowd was, rather than have to listen to "Pushed and Sutfin did it first", I shelved it. I've had opportunities to do "collabs" as you kids call it, but I have passed. I was offered to do a version of the nekosaur vinyl, but I wanted to do production vinyl colors, not just have walker paint them up. (Walker is awesome, but that's not MY toy if he's doing it you know?). DIY is cool and all, but to me the ultimate DIY is to get some factory to make a production piece of your toy. Not limited edition, not rare, but in the hands of anyone who wants one, and that seems to fly in the face of what the "scene" is into right now.

For now, I've settled on doing album covers, shirts, posters, that sort of thing. Not that I have a lot of free time with cdx and all, but anyone who has to balance a professional and personal life can relate.

Maybe after the scene dies down, I might try again, but the whole thing just turns me off.

ok, rambling now.

----------------------------------------------------------------
[www.collectiondx.com]

"I think those Argentinians with the Italian IP addresses are the worst. You know what I call them? ArgItalians! Damn, I hates me some ArgItalians! Boo! "

--Gingaioh
Sanjeev (Admin)
I think you made a great point regarding RxH, Daniel. Mori hasn't sold his soul to the high-end custom market...and I think that is VERY cool. Excellent way to counter all the exclusivity surrounding these toys. By releasing lots of product, there's guaranteed to be something for everyone. Sucks for the completists...but come on...are there "M1 completists" out there (well, maybe Mike Johnson!) or "Marmit completists" (certainly not Roger :P)??? You said you "don't like all of it"...right--I don't think anyone's expected to. That's how I tend to see it, anyway. And that's why I respect Mori, even if I don't really like most of his stuff.

And again, can't blame a guy for striking while the iron's hot...especially when toy-making IS his day job.

Regarding Gargamel's licensing, honestly, I'm not really that concerned about it. I don't collect their stuff, but if I did, I'd probably be interested in digging deeper. Like, the new standard Deathra. Sure, there are no existing toys being aped here, BUT it still *is* based on Nakaoka's Bagun artwork, which is copyrighted. I figure if everything were on the up and up, they woulda just said so by now. I dunno...whatever...

Josh, just to be clear, Matt Walker's paint jobs on the various Nekosaurs are production vinyl colors. His "Presidential Coatings" business is just as "factory" as Hiroshi Goto's shed in his backyard! ;) The only reason the Nekosaurs have been released in small runs is because of Alen's decisions...if Alen wanted 100 Nekos painted a certain way, Matt woulda delivered. And that goes for *most* of what Walker does...they're runs dictated by the toy makers, not really "customs" per se. No different from Goto painting the latest series of Marusan figures...
ed
Sanjeev, the interesting counterpoint to your comment about Mori not going the exclusivity route is that he does do that from time to time.
Many of the early (and best) pieces were really small runs in comparison to what is put out now, and even some of the SDCC releases were limited to 6 or so I heard. The other thing I heard a bunch of people complain about this year from SDCC was that they had a tough time getting one figure they wanted, but when they returned to the table saw that the same figure was being sold to someone else. I have a feeling I know what is behind that, and isn't Mori himself, but at the same time exclusivity applies to all of this stuff whether we want to admit it or not.

Josh I'm sorry to hear that you're disillusioned with the scene to the point that you won't release the toy you had in the works. If it makes you feel any better, that crowd on SB really isn't interested in Sutfin's toy all that much, and most of them dismissed it as something they would buy in Spencer's. These are also the same people who would spend $200 on a rose vampire, but that's another story altogether. I think Sutfin is a lot different than Pushead in some ways, most notably his artwork for Warcraft. He's a great artist and a nice guy, I hope his toy does well for him and Reckless (coincidentally, the guys who do toypunks also run reckless).

The scene is really disheartening right now. It's all must have and what's hot, who knows which artist, and how you can be the coolest to a bunch of strangers. I'll take my friends that I can chat about toys with over a bunch of strangers on a message board anyday.

(as a complete aside and plug, I'll be bringing a bunch of old rxh to the summit and will be selling it cheap-o if you want them for customs. think $10-20 each)
Sanjeev, what I think I was trying to say was that I was looking to actually produce colored vinyl, not clear vinyl with paint. Walker is fantastic, just not what I was looking for.
Sanjeev (Admin)
ed Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sanjeev, the interesting counterpoint to your
> comment about Mori not going the exclusivity route
> is that he does do that from time to time.
> Many of the early (and best) pieces were really
> small runs in comparison to what is put out now,
> and even some of the SDCC releases were limited to
> 6 or so I heard. The other thing I heard a bunch
> of people complain about this year from SDCC was
> that they had a tough time getting one figure they
> wanted, but when they returned to the table saw
> that the same figure was being sold to someone
> else. I have a feeling I know what is behind that,
> and isn't Mori himself, but at the same time
> exclusivity applies to all of this stuff whether
> we want to admit it or not.

These are good points. So, is it fair to say that Mori's doing a blend of things to try to appeal to lots of different kinds of collectors? Like, one of the things that makes Matt Doughty so popular is that his stuff is the fucking antithesis of "exclusive". His shit is accessible to anyone...but it also has the genetic makeup at its core to appeal to niche fans (those into Micronauts and whatnot). Now, however, he's starting to do more and more limited stuff like the Custom Corps runs and obviously show exclusives. Maybe he and Mori are similar in that they're trying to make as many folks happy as they can!

Oh, and regarding the complaints of seeing a show-exclusive being sold to someone else after they had come looking for it earlier...do you think maybe they're just trying to cut down on the line-forming crap that happens at shows? Remember Connell's story: he was third in (LONG) line at some person's table...and when the toys went on sale, the first two people bought virtually EVERYTHING. He was pissed and when he stepped up to the table, the toy maker just shrugged his shoulders. That's pretty fucked. Maybe Mori was trying to do some kind of staggered release to mitigate that kinda crap... Who knows...

Josh, do you mean you'd like to make a vinyl that's unpainted altogether? Then, yeah, obviously that's just gonna come straight from the factory as-is. I think I'm missing the point... Anyway, I'm with Ed: I'd still love to see your toy get made!
ed
All I'll say Sanjeev is No. It was not a staggered release.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Uh oh...someone's doing some dirt...

And why do I get a feeling I might know who's "behind" it..?
The more I think about the term "designer vinyl" the more it applies IMO to 2d artists with a name/reputation who make a 3d toy. Using Western as a reference:

Pushead - artist (and yes musician)
Kozik - music posters
KAWS - painter
Ron English - painter
Robert Williams - painter
Brian Flynn - graphic designer
Shepard Fairey - contemporary artist or thief
etc

All have produced toys with success or mixed results. Kozik is on record as commenting how 2D designers usually have a hard time understanding how to work in 3D. Williams and English have failed miserably IMO at attempting to produce toys.

Is there a Japanese equivalent? Not sure exactly.

Mori RxH is a one man operation making toys full-time. Not sure what his background is or if he was a creative 2d designer. But I don't think he had a reputation before entering the toy market.

Hiddy (of Secret Base) maybe. Hikaru Iwanaga (BxH) maybe.

All of these toys, not based on actual characters from tv or film, probably won't have staying power versus say the Toho or Barom-1 toys (to list two random examples). No back history. No depth. I can't get excited by a random "japanese" vinyl toy produced by a kid in New Haven CT in a basement somewhere. PK's Boss Carrion is probably the only exception cause it looks so polished and twisted, and I see hints of Zollmen and Blobpus.

Regarding punk, Kozik probably pushed the punk meme as he has a history of doing punk music posters and being following the punk/hardcore scene. It was probably punk at the time to produce a toy with Hikaru (BxH). These days, it seems punk, to me, to be doing resin or your own vinyl versus the "big" boutiques.

Also interesting how the designer vinyl market is so volatile. Some of these companies have over extended themselves, crashed and returned. First Secret Base. Then RxH. Gargamel next? Collectors become overwhelmed with the releases and volume. Then you see people dumping $60 toys at $20-30. Sometimes they can barely give them away.

Then you have the hype where a toy is released at retail. Skullbrain hype kicks in and prices explode to 2-300% or more. Then prices crash as "collectors" move on to the next hype and sell to pay for that. I picked up a bunch of Secret Base suits and bodies the other day for good prices cause everyone is chasing NNN or some other junk.

@Sanjeev, I was just using the vintage/modern/contemporary labels as those are terms usually used in museums and art and history. Not saying that toys are art though there have been museums who have had toy exhibits. And then thinking out to 2020 or so, there must then be some term or description to describe toys made after the late 70s (supposedly when vintage stops). Some people are already using vintage to describe early Secret Base or RxH. S7 has used the term "Neo Kaiju" which I hate, maybe cause it strangely reminds me of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix.

Yeah people whine on Skullbrain when you criticize their favorite toy. Kozik and I used to butt heads all the time about that. His view was, why piss in someone's Wheaties if they like a Pushead pirate? I think constructive criticism is healthy and more interesting rather than silence. But some people who threw down $60, $150, $300 and followed a herd without thinking do get defensive.

Finally, I agree that there's just so much product out there. Alot of it is garbage or doesn't appeal to me. Look at Rotofugi, [rotofugi.com], pages and pages of junk. S7 Secret Base Frankenfighter, okay. The US Toys Kanegon is nice. Gargamel Deathra? Seen too many of those. Yamazakura is okay. Scroll through a bazillion RxH that bore. Gargamel Siberian Bakobas? Nice. Damnedron (modern take on the smog monster) nice, but seen it before. Charactics Invaders are nice. Space Trooper? nice but would rather buy direct from Toygraph for less or wait to buy it used on Skullbrain. But in the end, the majority seems to be beanie baby landfill to me.

So some designer vinyls are hot, but alot are not. And I couldn't only collect designer vinyls. Got to mix it up with vintage and contemporary takes on Japanese characters.

Blah blah blah
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Uh oh...someone's doing some dirt...
>
> And why do I get a feeling I might know who's
> "behind" it..?

Spill...
JoshB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Warrhead Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Off topic, but anyone else here see a
> resemblance
> > between Josh B's recent CDX shirt and Pushead's
> > work? Is this old news to everyone but me?
>
> You caught that.
>
> This is an interesting subject. I try to keep my
> art and my toy business separate. I've been
> drawing this kind of art ever since I got my first
> Septic Death 45, my first Zorlac skateboard, and
> of course Pushead's art from Metallica's Master of
> Puppets tour shirts. I was an impressionable youth
> back in '86.
>
> You can check out my art here:
> [quibx.com]

HA! It was, (to me at least,) pretty unmistakeable. I really like the design, and to me your work is less "fiddly" than Pushead's. When I get some extra scratch I'll grab one up, if they're still around. Thanks for the link!


> I had a design all made up, and then Sutfin comes
> out with MadBattleMan - pretty much what I was
> thinking of doing. Knowing how fickle the crowd
> was, rather than have to listen to "Pushed and
> Sutfin did it first", I shelved it.

Yeah, that's a really annoying aspect of the undergound DIY creative ethic. There is SO MUCH pressure to be original, that it seem's you're almost expected to have no creative influences whatsoever. I see so many bands and artists these days that give me the impression that they're trying so hard to be original that they forget to ask themselves, "Sure it's original, but does it actually sound/look good?" I try hard not to buy into that with songwriting, electing to create and play what I like to, regardless of whether or not "it's already been done," scenesters be damned. I would also like to see what you were working on.
josh fraser (Moderator)
"I'm going to try to explain a thought here. If you're a designer, you're an "artist" per se. One of the main parts of creating artwork is to be able to take a criticism and grow as an artist. I don't see that too often anymore.
How can that whole scene evolve from where it's at currently if nobody is making any criticisms?"


This is the crux of such a conversation. I agree with you. Any designer worth their salt goes through a long process of refining and design feedback. It is like the old days at Risd where you would always run into the guy who spent all of 1 hour making the project and 2 hour explaining why it is great.

Good design is hard work and streamlining and careful consideration, not just a bunch of output. But that is not limited to just toys sadly.

A great documentary for those who are interested.

[topdocumentaryfilms.com]
ed
I'm not artistic at all, but I did have a lot of friends in art school and part of their daily routine was asking others for feedback on their current projects.

The few times that I have mentioned anything critical, I get emails telling me how horrible I am and calling me a hater. If I'm offering something constructive to a discussion, how does that classify me as a hater?

This is the best discussion about toys that I've been a part of in a long while.
If I knew more about vintage, I'd be all set over here :D
Sanjeev (Admin)
Ah, the vintage/modern/contemporary terms come from art history. Makes sense. Well, I'm still wary of using that nomenclature because of all the "baggage" that comes along with repeated reference to these things as "art", which you mentioned, liquidsky. Kinda like how Roger doesn't like the "colorway" term. It can get a little pretentious...and that's NOT a trap I'm interested in falling in.

Oh, and "neo kaiju" is about the dumbest fucking thing I've heard all day.

And regarding the dirt-doing...you're just gonna have to come to the Summit to hear my theory (and then hear Ed shoot it to pieces! :P ).

Regarding originality, I think there's just so much double-standard going around, nothing matters anymore. I dunno. Like, COOP put out that Lil Mort figure...and everyone hated it. Then Coop started posting on skullbrain. Then everyone loved it. Or...when that stupid fucking Sarumon figure was made by Killer J...that completely ripped off Marusan's Bera, people got up in arms. But as soon as one-offs and other exclusive customs of the Killer J toy were introduced, the ass-kissing began. Or...Lamour Supreme made that Glyos head of the human skull inside the dino skull...after Exohead did their Skull Rex figure. Complaints? Nah... The list goes on...

But anyway, like I said, I try to avoid the "art" term. Again...too much baggage. I've got enough shit to deal with. But for real, is there ANYTHING more useful than constructive criticism??? Yeah, yeah: inspiration/perspiration...but critical feedback devoid of ego is so fucking necessary. In fact, feedback from others--both positive and negative--are what built the shit I've got cooking. Not me. And I hope I get plenty of shit on this bbs...it's the only way I can make what comes next better.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In
> fact, feedback from others--both positive and
> negative--are what built the shit I've got
> cooking. Not me. And I hope I get plenty of shit
> on this bbs...it's the only way I can make what
> comes next better.

Your shit sucks and so do you.




...too soon?
Sanjeev (Admin)
Perfect timing, Brenton!

;)
Just trying to help.

Seriously though, I am looking forward to your DIY project, especially since play value seems to be a high priority for you.

I am having trouble with your distinction between toys and art though. I can appreciate your desire to keep the pretentious baggage separated from your hobby, but I think that you are not only on the losing side of that battle, since artistic merit is usually judged by the masses anyway, but that you are also, well, wrong.

Thing is, I have very little talent with visual arts in general, and don't have the desire to practice until I stop sucking at them. To that end, I will likely never design a toy outside of a Lego creation or melting chrome off of preexisting toys, and spraying a little paint here and there. My point is, it takes a certain level of refined artistic ability to design a functioning 3-D toy. Even if play value is foremost in the design strategy, the toy still needs to be aesthetically pleasing to appeal to the player-wither of said toy. It may not be high art, but it is no less a product of creativity than a Statue of Liberty commemorative plate that someone might choose to display in their house. I see toys as the performance artists of sculpture. They may have the artisitic credibility of a mime, destined to be dismissed by most, but are still art nonetheless. I certainly feel that everything that was discussed here has at least as much artistic merit as PissChrist, and I am neither a collector of vinyl, nor Christian, so I can say that without bias. I am not trying to derail this thread with a "what is art?" discussion, but your distinctions may as well be asking the question "what isn't art?"



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/06/2010 01:32AM by Warrhead.
Sanjeev (Admin)
At the end of the day, I pretty much agree with you. I mean, I certainly think of "toy-makers" as a subset of "artists" precisely for the reasons you mentioned. A "good" toy will come from excellence in 2D preliminary drawing, excellence in 3D sculpting, and excellence in mechanical design...whether this shit's done on a computer or by hand.

But you'll rarely ever hear me refer to toy-makers as "artists" out loud, though.

The obstacle in my mind is two sides of the same coin. On one hand, you have, for example, the original sculptors and painters at Marusan and Bullmark who created those wonderful vinyl kaiju toys in the 60's and 70's that we love today. Did they think of themselves as "artists". Probably not. They were just doing a job to get paid. It just so happens that we find the "job" they did absolutely brilliant on an artistic level. But to them, it was a paycheck. Only now are we starting to recognize their work publicly...like with the elevation of Hiroshi Goto to superstar status in the modern vinyl world in the past few years.

Now, the other side of the coin is obviously the folks who DO think of themselves as artists...and often get a little too comfortable with the title. Whether any one "artist" today making toys is legit or not must be discussed on a case-by-case basis...and the evaluation is hardly objective. The point, however, is that there's too much pretense around the term these days for me to be comfortable using the term.
Toys are to sculpture as sitcoms are to theater and as pop is to music. Consumer art. When the main motivation for the product is to move units, there can be a lot of mediocre product, but there is still plenty of genius to be found as well. What I was more specifically trying to point out is that with consumer entertainment art, it take's a certain type of creative brilliance on the creator or creative team's part to entertain us, the consumers, for hours on end. A product can have all the right ingredients for a winner, but for some reason just not have much appeal, while other products can seem crude by comparison, but for whatever reason, it has that "it" factor that you just can't get enough of, 'cause it's damn fun, or otherwise shit's awesomeness! Genius. I guess I am just trying to maintain an appreciation for this, and the "artistry" that goes into it. On the other hand, I totally agree with your desire to avoid legitimizing self promoting "artists", very little good usually comes from that.
josh fraser (Moderator)
I both do art and design. Art in the sense that I draw and paint, and went to school specifically for it, and have sold said art at shows. I do design to pay the bills and have done so for the better part of 20 years.

Honestly I sometimes see little distinction between the process, other then a few key elements.

Art has to function, but its function is more or less emotional based. A sculpture does not need to clean your floor or cook your dinner to work. It simply expresses something you either are moved by or not.

Designing, say for example product, has to serve two functions. One it must appeal to the consumer on a functional level, but also due to the number of product available it must also on at least an subconcious level, move the consumer to purchase it. This is done by a balance of function and form. Some of the best design is so subtle you are not even sure why it appeals to you, but you feel the urge it is the right one for you.

This takes time I feel. It is why people study art and design. If you look at the toys that appeal to you, you will see they have a bit of both. Good art like good design tends to be informed and a result of a process of refinement and hard won feedback from ones surroundings. Art and design in a vacuume without cultural context tends to be a little bland and unable to entice the viewer/user.

I don't think it is that complex. The principles are fairly constant, what changes is the paradigm of social and cultural tastes. And when people then add their own personal likes and dislikes and values to the equation.
Sanjeev (Admin)
"Consumer art"...great term. I think I'll be using that in the future...

Anyway, B, I get what you're saying. That's why I respect "regular" toy makers. I don't collect modern Star Wars toys, for example, I when I see them at Toys R Us or Target, I can definitely appreciate the work that goes into them. But I like the way you worded it: these artists' genius comes through in creating something that entertains us (emotionally or otherwise, as Josh put it). To put things in your terms, the problem I see with a lot designer vinyl toys (Western/"urban" or Japanese) is that whether or not they entertain is highly suspect. Instead of selling on their ability to entertain, they sell just because an artist's name is attached to it (or otherwise some sort of subculture's approval).

And I agree with everything Josh said: good product comes from kung fu (excellence through repetition and experience) of both design and art.
josh fraser (Moderator)
"And I agree with everything Josh said: good product comes from kung fu (excellence through repetition and experience) of both design and art".


Heh, yeah, if I produced the first couple sketches of each of my sneaker designs, I would either be sued for people killing themselves in my shoes or laughed at for shitty execution.

On average I go through MANY rounds of sketching and sampling to get to a final product, and more often than not, it becomes more simplified and distilled.I mean hell, this is obvious, and I doubt i need to say it.
Refining can sometimes be the hardest thing to do because it requires removing unneeded details and keeping only those that matter that convey the message with the least amount of effort from the viewer/end user. Clever without meaning is short lived design in my humble opinion.

For me many of the designer toys ( not all of course, as I think there are plenty of great designs out there) that lack a lot of originality now a days, are like a girl who is hot only with make up on. Once you get her out of the shower, you ask yourself what the hell you were thinking...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/09/2010 08:46AM by josh fraser.
All this talk of toys vs art and "consumer art" reminds me of Jarvis Rockwell's Maya.



Museum installation. Inspired by the Hindu temples.
Enormous 11' tall stepped pyramid at MASS MoCA in western Massachusetts in 2002.
Lined with thousands of action figures.

Undecided how I feel about this. Probably more effort was put into constructing
the pyramid than the collecting of toys. Kinda uneasy with the idea of the collector
seemingly becoming the artist. Fascinating to look at. Yet reeks IMO of unbridled
consumerism. Makes me question WTF I'm doing. Still undecided.
Bah, that shit ain't art! :P
Sanjeev (Admin)
Well, uh, could it have been an "artistic statement" about the awfulness of mass consumption?? :P
josh fraser (Moderator)
Or perhaps the "totem" like importance children can place upon their toys which would relate to why many of us spend absurd amounts to recapture that feeling.

This was my attempt to sound artsy. Sorry
Sanjeev (Admin)
Hey, why not? If that's what the artist intended, and that's what some audience members got out of it, that's cool.
As to the self promotion issue, self promotion is just a necessary part of being an artist, but at the same time any artist who has nothing else to offer than just his name won't stay around long. I don't think we see as much of the popularity contest in art now as we did twenty years ago because most of the really talented new "artists" go into design where they can actually make money and do something real instead of trying to navigate the "who you know" thing. The utopianistic popularity contest of the 80s NY art world is pretty much gone, thank the Buddha.

It seems a lot of what is being termed as designer vinyl as of the last two years or so isn't really "designer" vinyl as much as action figures by average skilled toy enthusiasts. Not that this is bad, but it's not really what designer vinyl started out as, which was vinyl-made by designers. There is still a lot of actual innovative design being done in vinyl, but quite honestly that stuff doesn't seem to appeal to the hardcore toy crowd who seems to go more for Kaiju and such.

BTW
Modern = Usually refers to art of the early to mid 20th century, such as the abstract expressionists.

Contemporary = Art now.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I like how you guys mentioned the lack of critical
> discussion on skullbrain. I've made a few posts
> somewhat recently that have been critical of
> things, and people lose their fucking minds.
> Heh...perfect example: I simply said that
> Mishka/Lamour Supreme's latest glow "Bootleg"
> figure doesn't glow for shit. No venom or
> harshness in my language; I literally said just
> that.

Maybe it's the word "shit" used in conjunction with the item they produced. In most situations, that would be considered harsh language.




I've lost all comprehension of what the heck you guys are talking about, so here's some new pics of a more fringe 'designer vinyl' toy type. These are Japanese vinyl suits made for Henshin Cyborg figures by Secret Base. I think they're sweet, as they combine the unbeatable craftsmanship of Japanese vinyl with the fun of Henshin Cyborg stuff (these suits are displayed on Obitsu bodies), and I don't think they really carry the pretension of some of the bigger stuff... they're just damn cool.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Sanjeev (Admin)
xiombarg Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It seems a lot of what is being termed as designer
> vinyl as of the last two years or so isn't really
> "designer" vinyl as much as action figures by
> average skilled toy enthusiasts. Not that this is
> bad, but it's not really what designer vinyl
> started out as, which was vinyl-made by designers.
> There is still a lot of actual innovative design
> being done in vinyl, but quite honestly that stuff
> doesn't seem to appeal to the hardcore toy crowd
> who seems to go more for Kaiju and such.

^^What is this based on? Most of what you've said is wholly contradictory to the majority of my observations for the last several years.

First, you're saying that contemporary "designer" vinyl is designed by toy enthusiasts...while early designer vinyl started out as toys designed by "designers". What is the difference between a "toy enthusiast" and a "designer"?

Next, how do you know that contemporary (non-character) vinyl doesn't appeal to "the hardcore toy crowd" (that is ostensibly into kaiju)?

And besides, are you saying that kaiju (character toy) collectors qualify as the "hardcore" segment of the toy crowd...while those who collect contemporary designer stuff don't? One could easily argue that designer (non character) stuff is more "in"--for better or for worse--simply because their toys are often in such high demand. Further, while it's obvious that a lot of contemporary non-character vinyl is inspired by traditional kaiju, it's actually the contemporary kaiju toy makers (like M1 and Marmit) who are changing their models to be more like the designer vinyl folks. You can see this in their experimentation with double-casting, glitter paint, iridescent paints, guts (or other things stuffed in clear vinyls), and other features pioneered by the designer crowd.


Roger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Maybe it's the word "shit" used in conjunction
> with the item they produced. In most situations,
> that would be considered harsh language.

Unlikely. It wasn't Greg or Joel (the toy-makers) freaking out. I think this phenomenon is more on the fanboy part, where they feel the need to justify their shopping habits (thus betraying their insecurity about the hobby).
@Eric and akum6n
Those festival release soft vinyl robots are amazing! I think I've got there website bookmarked, but never seen any in person.
Like so many of those single day license figures are they hard and expensive to track down afterwords?
Also, hi everyone! :-)
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Unlikely. It wasn't Greg or Joel (the toy-makers)
> freaking out. I think this phenomenon is more on
> the fanboy part, where they feel the need to
> justify their shopping habits (thus betraying
> their insecurity about the hobby).

Doesn't matter who reacted to it, there's nothing constructive about "this doesn't glow for shit."

Come on. This could be the stupidest thing you've ever written on this BBS.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First, you're saying that contemporary "designer"
> vinyl is designed by toy enthusiasts...while early
> designer vinyl started out as toys designed by
> "designers". What is the difference between a "toy
> enthusiast" and a "designer"?

A designer is someone who works in the design industry and has an education in graphic design. A toy enthusiast is a hobby. A lot of early designer vinyl was made as promotional material for companies or products and so it was actually designed by working designers. Companies like Kidrobot, Dunny, Qee etc. would hire graphic designers to design the surface aesthetics. It was the design that made these attractive, not the character.

> Next, how do you know that contemporary
> (non-character) vinyl doesn't appeal to "the
> hardcore toy crowd" (that is ostensibly into
> kaiju)?

Because nobody posts pictures of it in toy forums.

> And besides, are you saying that kaiju (character
> toy) collectors qualify as the "hardcore" segment
> of the toy crowd...while those who collect
> contemporary designer stuff don't?

Generally speaking, yes.

>One could easily argue that designer (non character) stuff
> is more "in"--for better or for worse--simply
> because their toys are often in such high demand.
> Further, while it's obvious that a lot of
> contemporary non-character vinyl is inspired by
> traditional kaiju, it's actually the contemporary
> kaiju toy makers (like M1 and Marmit) who are
> changing their models to be more like the designer
> vinyl folks. You can see this in their
> experimentation with double-casting, glitter
> paint, iridescent paints, guts (or other things
> stuffed in clear vinyls), and other features
> pioneered by the designer crowd.

The stuff that is high demand is because its good, not because its "cool". I think M1 and Marmit are attempting to be better at their designs instead of doing traditional toy type stuff.
Just a bit of a tangent...I would argue that "clear guts with various stuff inside" was really pioneered by Bullmark, Popy, and Wood.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
Roger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Come on. This could be the stupidest thing you've
> ever written on this BBS.

Okay.


xiombarg Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A designer is someone who works in the design
> industry and has an education in graphic design. A
> toy enthusiast is a hobby. A lot of early designer
> vinyl was made as promotional material for
> companies or products and so it was actually
> designed by working designers. Companies like
> Kidrobot, Dunny, Qee etc. would hire graphic
> designers to design the surface aesthetics. It
> was the design that made these attractive, not the
> character.

Hikaru of Bounty Hunter was the first designer vinyl maker. Is he a "designer"? Well, he was designing clothes at the time. Now does Mori of Real x Head have a degree in design? Was he doing design work before making his toy line? What about Kiyoka? Have you asked them?

I don't know, but I think your distinction is dubious.

> > Next, how do you know that contemporary
> > (non-character) vinyl doesn't appeal to "the
> > hardcore toy crowd" (that is ostensibly into
> > kaiju)?
>
> Because nobody posts pictures of it in toy forums.

Is that not the point of this thread? There's a whole toy forum called skullbrain that's devoted to designer vinyl and modern character kaiju vinyl. There's a decent amount of overlap.

> The stuff that is high demand is because its good,
> not because its "cool". I think M1 and Marmit are
> attempting to be better at their designs instead
> of doing traditional toy type stuff.

What I'm saying is that the designer non-character stuff is what's commanding huge prices right now (and has been for a while)...while the M1's and Marmit's are lukewarm in the aftermarket.

And hillsy, thanks for correcting me: Bullmark, Popy, and Wood definitely pioneered the stuffed vinyl thing. I think the designer guys brought it back into vogue. Either way, I see a lot of the character toy guys now starting to do more and more creative stuff like the designer guys.

It's not a bad thing at all (as long as they don't go and make their shit crazy limited just to drive hype!)...I'm only bringing it up to counter the mentality that ONE is better/more pure/more hardcore/whatever than the OTHER.
hillsy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Just a bit of a tangent...I would argue that
> "clear guts with various stuff inside" was really
> pioneered by Bullmark, Popy, and Wood.


I would agree.
The clear Popy Barom-1 and Kamen Rider figures immediately come to mind.

Never heard of Wood before...
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