Whenever I see a friend pay good money for a figurine, I roll my eyes and go, “Surely that money can be put to better use?” Figurines such as the Japanese Be@rbrick and KAWS OriginalFake are expensive toys, and toys to me were things you put away for good after a certain age. People like Nigo and Pharrell Williams may beg to differ with my opinion, but I never fully understood the thrill of the hunt that has many men hooked. For them, scoring a rare figurine is like striking gold. I much prefer the 24k, 22k and 18k variants.
Then I met three guys – a self-taught independent resin sculptor, a young businessman and an advertising guru who moonlights in the toy industry for kicks. They all operate differently, from creating everything in-house to seeking out artists for collaboration. But whether it is an obsession or simply a channel for suppressed creative juices, they have one thing in common, and that is passion. Their messy studios and long weeks are testaments to the amount of hard work put into every toy. The resin sculptor, for example, would slave away for 10 days to create incredibly detailed figures, like the first three here. It might seem incredible that something so small could set me back $100, but after understanding the amount of work that goes into it, a hundred bucks seems like a bargain. After all, it isn’t just a mere toy. It is a bonafide work of art.
To know more about the three toy makers, get a copy of our Breaking Convention issue before this month comes to an end. Meanwhile, here are some of their current bestsellers. Visit their websites for more details.
Daniel Yu, independent resin sculptor
Yu is incredibly obsessed with tiny details. He sets his ideas immediately in resin without a need for sketching, and his figurines are mostly inspired by history, pop culture and literary works from authors like H P Lovecraft and The Brothers Grimm. – thedanielyu.com
‘Plague Oracle’, inspired by the plague doctors of the past.
Note: These doctors were hired by towns in times of epidemics, and their garments were invented by Charles de L’Orme in 1619. A protective suit could consist of a waxed heavy fabric, a mask with glass eye openings and a cone nose that held scented substances and straw.
Drawn to Che Guevara’s iconography, Yu begat ‘Lil Jefe’, a piece that debuted at Kult Gallery’s Dead Celebrities show in March.
Yu’s interpretation of the Jiang Shi, a traditional Chinese zombie, showcased at this year’s Art Toy Culture Show, a designer toy convention.
Jackson Aw, founder and owner of Mighty Jaxx
Aw develops artists’ works by translating 2D illustrations into 3D. – mightyjaxx.rocks
Meet the ‘Chunky Knight’, an overweight superhero that’s modelled by Alex Solis, an artist from Chicago.
‘Wish Upon Me…’ is a second collaboration with Yoskay Yamamoto ever since the first sold out quickly in 2014.
New Zealander T-WEI spent six months with Mighty Jaxx working on his first sculpture, ‘Pug Life’, that’s based on one of his original drawings. Designed in high grade porcelain and will not be produced again.
Jeffrey Koh, Mastermind at Flabslabs
Flabslab is Koh’s medium for creativity without boundaries. – flabslab.com
‘Boba’ is a reflection of the infamous bounty hunter from Star Wars drinking boba or bubble tea, as you would call it. Based on a painting by Luke Chueh.
‘The Uprising’ is Flabslab and SKL0’s (Sam Lo) second piece of work that’s now limited to only 15 pieces.
‘Willy’ is Flabslab’s godly and ungodly creation inspired by the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro as well as the obvious devil, Ronald McDonald.