What started out as an artistic outlet to celebrate toy culture has amassed to a cult following around the world. An offshoot of hip hop and youth-oriented pop culture, designer-toys, also known as "art-toys" or "urban vinyl toys," often depict figures from Asian and American culture and have become a telling piece of today's youth culture. Vinyl toys from brands such as Kid Robot, Tokidoki, Bearbrick and Qee have become highly coveted and collectible works of art for street-art aficionados and creative types alike.
The vinyl toy movement has led to collaborations with fashion houses like Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel, iconic brands like Nike, Adidas and even Playboy and artists of all disciplines, including legendary artist, Frank Kozik -- who designed artwork for Nirvana, Green Day, The Beastie Boys and more -- Emmy-winning illustrator, Gary Baseman, UGLYDOLL creator, David Horvath and a slew of other artists.
The thrill of collecting designer toys comes two-fold; as a nostalgic way to celebrate characters and figures from your childhood, such as the Marvel super heroes, Street Fighter, The Simpsons, and more, and as an addicting desire to collect complete sets of figures or own a rare piece of art. Not everyone can afford a $500 canvas but almost anybody can afford a $10 toy.
Brands like Kid Robot have taken vinyl toys to a different level, creating blank canvas art toys that allow customers to get in touch with their inner artistry and design their own customized collectibles. The non-traditional canvas keeps the thriving artist culture alive and inspires everyone to pick up their weapon of choice -- that is, a pencil, marker or paintbrush -- design something truly unique and one-of-a-kind.
Art-based toys are an important part of the arts community. Collectible designer toys are a reflection of today's pop and mass culture and blank vinyl toys are an experience in itself; it's a creative platform to discover your own personal artistic talent and a way to awaken a sense of nostalgia.