You probably collect them and don't even know it. Art toys are a lot bigger than most people realize. Art toys started as something underground but today you can find art toys just about anywhere. The thing is, they may not look like an art toy at first glance. Just some fun mystery box figure for 9.99.
Designer Toys, also called art toys, are toys and collectibles created by artists and designers that are either self-produced or made by small, independent toy companies, typically in very limited editions. Artists use a variety of materials, such as ABS plastic, vinyl, wood, metal, latex, plush, and resin. Creators often have backgrounds in graphic design, illustration, or fine art, but many accomplished toy artists are self-taught.
Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of how they are produced. Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults.
Let's start with the man that got it poppin', The Godfather of the Urban Vinyl game, Michael Lau. In the 1970s American toys flooded Hong Kong and Michael Lau was heavily influenced by Gi Joe figures. He later would use that inspiration to create figures of his own work. In the '90s Lau started creating his own figures developed from his personal art style. These figures were truly stand out featuring looks and styles that were popular in street culture. In my opinion, these figures hold their weight and are still completely relevant within today's culture, just timeless.
COMPANIES YOU'VE PROBABLY SEEN
A very popular company that helped pioneer the Urban Vinyl craze in America. This was the first company I collected art toys from being that the price was fairly affordable and they also provided blank figures for you to paint on. The idea of being able to create your own Urban Vinyl using their base design was extremely alluring to my young artist's senses.
Medicom is a true OG in the Urban Vinyl market using one of the most recognizable figures in the culture. The Be@rbrick is highly popular and in-demand in the hype & modern street culture. The popularity comes from the numerous collaborations that Medicom uses for the artwork on the Be@rbricks. Companies such as BAPE, Simpsons,