Designer Toys

tim Biskup qee egg

emilio garcia

Designer toys are collectibles that are produced in limited editions (as few as 10 or as many as 2000 pieces) and created by artists and designers. Designer toys are made of variety of materials; ABS plastic and vinyl are most common, although wood, metal, and resin are occasionally used. The term also encompasses plush, cloth and latex dolls.

A popular brand is the Qee series by Toy2R, a designer toy company based in Hong Kong founded by Raymond Choy in 1995. The standard size of Qee figures is 2″,  but 8″ pieces are also produced. Qees vary in their design, usually with the same basic body type, but with head sculpts that may be of a bear, a cat, a dog, a monkey, or a rabbit, etc. Figuresare packaged unpainted, as do-it-yourself pieces. Each piece is designed by an artist and carries its own aesthetic theme. Each 2″ figure is packaged with an optional keychain attachment.

Dunny figures, produced by Kid Robot, an American company, is a Western counterpart of the Chinese Qee and the Japanese Be@rbrick. Dunny are a series of figures that resemble anthropomorphized rabbits in a cartoon style (a design originally illustrated by graffiti, stencil, and comic artists) which are produced as 3″, 8″, and 20″ figures. There is a variation of the Dunny figure called a Munny, which resembles a monkey, and is only sold as an unpainted do-it-yourself piece.

Most vinyl toys are produced in factories in China, though some designers have shifted production to Japan where higher quality materials such as clear vinyl are used. Designer toys are rarely produced in the United States due to environmental restrictions on the production of vinyl, some exceptions are resin and plush toys.

The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s. Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami.

Some artists create their toys using synthetic resin material and resin casting. The process of making resin toys is more labor intensive and time consuming than industrialized vinyl toy production, which in most of cases are made identical and in large quantities. But resin casting allows artists to produce toys in small numbers. Most vinyl factories will only produce toys in large series. Resin toys have become a way for less established artists to produce a toy without the large financial investment required to produce a vinyl toy.

Designer plush refers to stuffed dolls created in limited quantities by artists and designers. Common designs include anthropomorphized animals or fantastic human likenesses, although designer plush dolls often feature entirely unique character designs. Designer plush dolls are usually given names and personas, with their distinctive personalities described on their tags or in booklets included in their packaging.

Uglydolls are a series of designer plush dolls, created by independent toy designers David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim under the label Pretty Ugly. Their first products were 12″ plush dolls based on drawings by David Horvath’s, and handmade by Sun-Min Kim.

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