From minimalist character designs loosely resembling people to bizarre futuristic characters, the world of art toys is a platform through which designers are really showing their creativity. Often abstract, surreal, futuristic, cartoon-inspired and at times horrific, these are nothing like the action figures you bought as a child (or in my case ...adult). Here are ten of the best art toy designers around.
Sticky Monster Lab
My personal favourite, Sticky Monster Lab operates from a studio in Korea. The studio has four members, each of which specialising in their own niche discipline; motion graphics, illustration, festival managing and now figure artistry.
Through being able to utilise such a great range of skills, Sticky Monster lab created an epic four minute long video centred around one their main characters, 'The Loner', which you can check out below.
Check out Sticky Monster Lab here
Frank Kozik is a major name not just in the world of art toys but also in poster design. Having designed album covers and gig posters for iconic bands such as Nirvana and The Sex Pistols, Frank Kozik decided to switch to primarily focusing on art toys in 2000.
Check out Frank Kozik here
Jeremy "MAD" Madl has been creating awesome art toys for more than thirteen years. The very first range of toys, shown below, continues to be one of the most popular designed by MAD.
Check out MAD here
Playge doesn't have the most extensive range of art toys but the ranges he does have are awesome. The 'misfortune cat', shown below, has been designed in a range of alternative styles. The 'playge rat' is perhaps the most bizarre creation; featuring a three eyed rat in a suit carrying a shotgun. Playge has also made a series of skulls based on cube designs which are a radically different design altogether from any other toys out there that I have seen.
Check out Playge here
Peecol is a range of art toys by 'eBoy'. eBoy is a monumental pixel artist creating breathtaking pixel art in the form of animations, posters, portraits and everything in between. Peecol is eBoy's series of stripped down, minimalist toys. The range of toys in this range is extensive.
Check out eBoy here
I had to include Jon-Paul Kaiser in this list just for the sheer awesomeness of his pirate figure design. This figure is designed so well it looked just as good not painted when the preview version was released.
Check out Jon-Paul Kaiser here
3A's toys are pretty different from anything else out there, a particular favourite of theirs being their robots collections. Another nice feature of this company is that have one of the best maintained sites around for their figures which is well worth a look.
Check out 3A here
Amos, alongside the likes of Sticky Monster Lab, are one of the less macabre collections of art toys. Comprised of a team of three, Amos was set-up in 2002 and has since launched characters such as the Kebab Twins, Leon, the enormous collection of figures that comprises their 'in-crowd' range and the ever-popular King-Ken figure, shown below.
Check out Amos here
Itokin Park are good at making toys that break the mould a bit, lame pun intended. They will incorporate simple elements in their designs that will make their figures really stand out. In this case, the glittered finish to the design shown below is certainly an unusual touch.
Their website is in Japanese but your browser should be able to translate the pages no problem.
Check out Itokin Park here
123 Klan don't have art toys as their primary focus but the toys they have made are excellent. Their futuristic guitar playing series seems to have is proving to be incredibly popular.
Check out 123 Klan here
by Chris Fiander