Collectibles Toys - Corridor Contemporary

Collectibles Toys

November 28, 2021
Over the last few years, it has been more and more clear that the pop phenomena of collectibles toys are here to stay. Not only for kids sake, but for responsible adults and art collectors especially!

Here are a few trends that enable a high demand for collectibles toys in the art market today:

Kitsch or major art-historical importance

After the street art scene in the 80’s and later pop artists, it has been brought to our collective-art attention the idea that art is not meant only for museums and fancy collectors homes. We learned that art is meant to be shared with everyone in the world, no matter what color they are, no matter where they live, and no matter how much they earn for a living. Art is no longer the possession of elitistic exclusive groups like it was in past decades. 
Jeff Koons, for example, creates representations of  objects such as balloon animals. He designs both large and small scale sculptures produced in stainless steel with a mirror-like finish. Over the years, his work was controversial between the criticism of people who described his work as kitsch, crass, and based on cynical self-merchandising versus others who saw his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance.
Dealing with iconic, adorable cartoon characters is one of KAWS themes since the beginning of his career. He used to paint characters from the loved series, The Simpsons, and broke a new record for himself in 2019 when his painting “The Kaws Album” (2005), was sold in an auction in Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $14.7 million U.S. dollars.
Limited edition, depicting the freestanding Balloon Dog, porcelain, will soon be available in our gallery. Courtesy of Jeff Koons studio, @KeithMajorPhoto and @bertrandbozon
Koons playfully tests the boundaries of commerce, celebrity, banality and pleasure.
Pop Culture: The Kaws Album, 2005. a parody of a parody: It recreates The Yellow Album, The Simpsons’ take on the Beatles’ famous 1967 album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band


Globalization has spread the rumor of  the Japanese mass culture including their common habit of buying gifts to each other and the Kawaii cute culture. It was very common to see people buy a lot of small dolls such as Hello Kitty etc.
The cuteness culture, or Kawaii aesthetic, has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture. It refers to items, human and non-human, that are charming and childlike. Examples include characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Japanese artist, Hiro Ando, creates cat sculptures reminiscent of Maneki-Neko (literally, “beckoning cat”), an ubiquitous Japanese cultural icon symbolizing good luck. Maneki-Neko figurines can be found in nearly every souvenir store and restaurant in Japan. Ando integrates tradition with contemporary culture in his sculptures. His sculptures resemble enlarged toy cartoon characters and bears named SumoCat, Samurai Cat, UrbanCat, and RobotCat. They’re mainly monochrome, glossy, hand-painted or decked out with rhinestones.
Another Japanese collectible is Be@brick created by Tatsuhiko Akashi, who founded the Japanese company, Medicom Toy, in 1996. Be@brick is a unique vinyl toy, which is extremely desired amongst collectors since it became open to the public. Although a simple plastic toy, some of the world’s biggest fashion houses and designers have adopted it to showcase their latest designs and projects. 
Despite being moderately priced, the plastic bear-shaped figurine is immensely valuable to collectors. Moreover, some of these are sold for tens of thousands of dollars at auctions. This is why American musician Joe Hahn popularly dubbed it as an “adult collectible toy”.
Hiro Ando, Monology Urban Pink, Mix Media Resin with Pigment Polychrome under Plexy Cap, Ed. of 8, 25 cm (1)
Hiro Ando, Monology Urban Pink, Mix Media Resin with Pigment Polychrome under Plexy Cap, 33 x 26 x 24 cm, 13 x 10 x 9.5 in
An art toys collector’s house (Thailand, 2013) Designed by Onion. Courtesy of Dezeen

Collectibles toys of @deoneo (Instagram) Art & Arttoys collector from Thailand

Be@rbrick, The Joker (The Dark Knight), 2001, Plastic Figurine\Medicom Toy, 74 x 34 x 24 cm, 29 x 13.5 x 9.5 in
The Rubber Duck in Hong Kong (2013).  A giant 16.5 meter (54 feet) inflatable duck. Courtesy of CNN.
KAWS, Holiday, 2021 at Marina Bay, Singapore. Courtesy of @AllRightsReserved

And then the Rubber Duck showed up

Somewhere in the beginning of the new era, we started to see more and more playful urban installations (site specific) involving huge sculptures of pop images in the public open spaces. The most lovable and remembered project was the Yellow Rubber Duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. This iconic toy was familiar in almost every house all over the world. The artist picked this specific toy so that he can send a simple message of a happier life to everyone everywhere. The first duck was made in 2007, then the giant floating sculptures have appeared in many cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Kaohsiung, Baku, and Sydney. The purpose of his art was to promote the message of healing.
The Yellow Duck was the beginning of site specific big sculpture flow and in March 2019, a 121-foot-long inflatable version of KAWS’ Companion was installed in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour during Art Basel. Anchored by a 40-ton weight, versions of the piece dubbed KAWS: HOLIDAY were on view also in Seoul and Taipei among other places around the world.
Whereas Hofman took a very recognizable warm nostalgic icon, KAWS used his well known personal invented character ‘Companion’ clown-like figure based on Mickey Mouse with his face obscured by both hands, and two bones sticking out of his head. He manages to design and create a stand alone creature with a mass production vibe from one hand and a humanity feeling kind of look from the other.
Kaws, Companion Blush (Flayed), 2017, Vinyl, 27.3 x 11.43 x 6.99 cm (2)
KAWS, Companion (Passing Through) Brown, 2018, Vinyl,    29 x 9 x 14 cm, 11.5 x 3.5 x 5.5 in.
KAWS, Companion Blush (Flayed), 2017, Vinyl, 27 x 11 x 7 cm, 11 x 4 .5 x 3 in.

Generation of enthusiastic artists

Contemporary artists nowadays love to explore their creation in a few mediums. They like to paint in a traditional way, but they are also enthusiastic about seeing their personal language in small and large formats as well as 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional perspectives. Their artworks can be found on gallery walls and on large street murals. They also design and create sculptures in the shape of characters which play a part in the collectible art scene.
Philp Colbert, the scottish London based artist, is known for his alter ego character, The Lobster. Colbert seeks to saturize our addict culture through his triumphant orchestration of appropriated imagery. The Lobster, who is shown in his paintings as well in his small and big (resin) sculptures, explores the patterns of contemporary digital culture and its relationship to a deeper historical dialogue, as he once said: “The lobster is my materialistic alter-ego”.
FlyBoy and Lil Mama, the two invented protagonists: curious, empowered kids of american artist Hebru Brantley are featured in the same powerful way on canvas and prints as well as (resin) sculptures. Defining himself as an Afrofuturist, Brantley draws from a range of influences including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Chicago’s AfriCOBRA collective, African American history, hip-hop, anime, manga, and his own experiences of African American and urban life in the United States.
Lil Mama, a mural by Hebru Brantley (Chicago, 2013)
Hebru Brantley, Ultra Lumen OG Sculpture, 2021, Resin Sculpture, 41 x 33 x 41 cm, 16 x 13 x 16 in, Edition of 100, AP Edition of 10
Philip Colbert, Lobster Portrait (Sky Blue), 2020, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 30 x 4.5 cm, 16  x 12 x 2  in.

The combination of investigating high and low art, the spread of Japanese art, the appearance of the huge pop sculptures in public places and the flexibility of artists moving between mediums enables the growth of collectible toy collectors.

So next time you are getting into a gallery with your teeangers and they get a crash on a collectible toy, you can be sure he or she probably knows a thing or two about the art scene.
The Lobster, Colbert’s alter ego, solo show, 2019

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