The New Black in Collecting: Art Toys

#ihadnoidea / #smarchitects / #werecommend


The Japanese do a lot of things well, including setting trends in both traditional and modern art. The new trend is vinyl art toys – a mix of art and pop culture. The Japanese have been going crazy for years, and that had already spread through the whole world. Here are some of the artists whose work we admire.


This is a modern classic. Only a very lazy collector doesn’t have one of the babies in his collection.

Their “father” Brian Donnelly began as an animator of Disney. He left the cinematography and has been making vinyl toys for over ten years. KAWS is exhibited in the coolest world galleries. He has worked with Comme des Garçons, Kanye West, MTV, Nike, Jordan, Vans, Bearbrick and STAR WARS. One of his sculptures was auctioned for $ 411,000. At the same time, KAWS has a very recognizable style, and he doesn’t make compromises – all his creations can be recognized by form and crosses instead of eyes.


The spontaneous phenomenon of a former IT-worker. He had a very decent salary and one day he decided to make toys in a tight room behind the wall of a fast-food restaurant. Together with a former employee of LEGO, Japanese Akashi Tatsuhiko founded Medicom Toy Corporation that has already collaborated with KAWS and Andy Warhol, Stussy and Nike brands, Vivienne Westwood, Swarovski, Chanel and so on.


Great-great-grandfathers of the modern hit — bears from Bearbrick series — are both visually and structurally similar to LEGO men and Kubrick figures, dedicated to Stanley Kubrick, director of “Mechanical Orange”. However, Akashi and Medicom Toy received their worldwide recognition after the first contract with famous anime author of Neon Genesis Evangelion and launch of Kubrick’s characters in the form of characters of their most famous anime.

So, what about this bear? It is a child of one competent business. To develop a new form for a new hero every single time is terribly difficult. Besides, it is energy and finance consuming. Being inspired by the Teddy bear, Akashi Tatsuhiko drew his universal soldier who would be friends with different brands, characters, sciences, and cultures. Uniform form plus different design equals uniqueness and economical circulation.

Drops go in the blind boxes so that nobody sees exactly which Bearbrick they bought for the crazy amount of money. To collect all 24 pieces of a single collection is almost unreal without sharing, repurchase, auctioning and hunting for the very bear that is missing on the shelf. 

Price for each is $17,000-24,000. They are bears by an ex IT-worker.


Graphic designer, who has worked with Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Offspring and, according to influential music media, created the best album covers for them, is also the author of a series of art toys. Most often they are sad, called to life by acute social problems and don’t ignore politics.


Devil Bunny is a rabbit figure painted in the horror style that started the Dunny epoch. Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eton have been forbidding their fantasy to sleep for already 15 years to “drop” the unique collection of rabbits of various colors and designs. There are ones with rock guitars, Japanese paper umbrellas, wearing hoodies and gas masks, with tattoos and vanilla ice cream cones. There are 4 standard sizes: 3, 5, 8 and 20 inches and a special guest — four-feet Dunny for $5,000.

THE Jason Freeney

If you have not heard anything about Jason Freeney, you have definitely seen – his anatomically-dissected toys, as if a medical college student has worked on them, are hard to forget. One of the most famous is Mario. He appears in the form he would have had after a real battle with mushrooms. Freeney blurs the lines between the design of toys, art, and science.

Popovy Sisters

Sculptor sisters who create unreal dolls in the Japanese tradition since 2004. It is said that with their dolls sculptors express a modern and cosmopolitan vision of beauty and surpass the routine and banality. And they succeed.

Vasyl Omelyanenko

In Ukraine a style similar to art toys originated in the 15th century: it was folk or zoomorphic ceramics. One of the most famous masters is Vasyl Omelyanenko from the ceramic capital of Ukraine – the town of Opishna. This is a pottery in the form of animals. The most favorite images are mutton and lion. This tradition is closely linked to the topic of harvest, which at that time was sacred to Ukrainians and is important nowadays.

Sergey Makhno has more than 70 examples of zoomorphic ceramics in his collection, including works of Omelyanenko. He continues the Ukrainian tradition, creating modern zoomorphic sculptures in his own workshop.


Authors — Tetiana Vakula, Daria Sushko
Main visual — Nikita Uvarov

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