We’re never too old to own toys. I have tons of PopVinyls hanging around (yes, Adventure Time holds a special place in my heart). But what makes them more acceptable as we get older is the introduction of a whole new world of the vinyl and sculpted fashion. Enter designer toys. There are a million styles and they’re filling shelves in many adults’ homes, but while the retailer or distributor usually gets the name recognition, it’s the toy designers behind them I want to highlight today. So here we go…
1. Helena Stamulak - Helena is Head of Creative and the main designer for Love Momiji dolls. Her work is stunning and soo cute–many of the dolls are inspired by kawaii style. Momiji dolls are unique in that they carry a message within. Each one has a card or scroll of paper for a personal message in the bottom of them. Helena’s style is vibrant and imaginative. Plus her ability to capture a personality of each character is mind-blowing. See more of her work on her Instagram, it doesn’t disappoint.
2. Peter Kato - Brooklyn based, Kato has worked on comic books, curated galleries and of course, designed toys. His latest creations are these adorable little bunnies. He teamed up with some of his favorite artists to bring these figures to life in an art show that just closed this week at My Plastic Heart in NYC. Most definitely check out his Instagram for a look at some of the original designs.
3. Riita - Riita’s pieces are a bit different than the KidRobot style of the others, but still just as cool. The French artist has created adorable little neck charms from clay as well as these hand sculpted busts. You won’t be playing with her upcoming New Muse figures, but they’re look dope on your shelves. One of my favorite parts, they’re limited edition–only 10 are made of each muse. Clio is my fave, but the others with glass eye in tow are just as mesmerizing.
4. Tristan Eaton - The Dunny and the Munny doll. You know them. While Eaton did create these with the help of KidRobot and Budnitz, it’s one of the most well known designer toys out there. The Dunny opened a world to the masses that many weren’t familiar with and allowed artists, and anyone inclined, to create their own vision of the doll since it comes blank when purchased. Tristan makes the list because he’s not only a staple for the vinyl toy scene, he’s also an incredible muralist and did a pretty crazy Disney sculpture that you can see on his site.
5. Tado - A bit of a cheat because Tado is comprised of two people, but their designs are so great it’s allowed them to work with major companies. Their Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary piece was so cool. One of the cutest, repeated characters they’ve created is Panda Otaku, with the help of carver Nick Hunt. The wooden figures follow the same vibrant theme of some of the other creators above, but the simplicity and precision of their work, the tiny operation they have in place and pop art diversity make them the perfect toy designers to close off this list.
Do you know or like any designer toy creators? Lemme know. Would love to learn about new work.