To be completely honest, my experience with designer art toys is not extensive. I’ve had one or two small things here or there and admired and wanted many more than that, but they were never something that I thought would fit my collection easily. Nor did I feel they would make for interesting photography subjects. Well boy, was I wrong on that count!
Thanks to Tenacious Toys, I got the opportunity – and I should say, challenge, – to shoot a few of their exclusive pieces.
For the most part, Art (or Designer) Toys are pieces that are designed by artists. Sometimes these artists create these specifically to be dimensional collectibles and sometimes they are 3D realizations of traditional art they’ve created with other mediums.
The first piece here is one of the latter. Johnny “Kmndz” Rodriguez’s art often features nature – specifically birds – interacting in surreal ways with man-made, objects. Such is the case with “Hob” the bird with a water tower over its head. Hobs stands for House of Blues, the chain of music concert/restaurants who teamed up with Rodriguez and 3DRetro to make his art a dimensional reality (or surreality.)
The detail and paint perfectly capture the artists’ original work even if the legs had to be a bit heavier than the original to hold itself up. This exclusive Tenacious Toys HOB version actually glows in the dark! I modeled my shot on the feel I got from his artwork and how I thought it might translate to a dimensional environmental reality.
Next up is one of my personal faves from this assignment, the Classicbot iBot G3 from Playsometoys. I’ve always been an Apple guy and I’m old enough to have worked on one of their iconic G3 computers.
This thing is super cute and quite versatile. Not only does he come with the appropriate round mouse and color-coordinated keyboard, but he also has some arms and legs! These are magnetically attached and offer some light articulation. The small addition of two “eyes” on her screen gives what otherwise looks like a standard-issue G3 a lot of personality.
It was a no-brainer that I had to have it interact with my Steve Jobs 1/6th figure, and not just in a standard “computer” way. So I imagined iBot as kind of a pet/companion of Steves and had them enjoying some time together on “iMovie Night”.
Inspired by the artwork of artist Casey Weldon, Kittypillar, by ThreeA, combines the cute (but eerie) head of a cat with the multi-limbed body of a caterpillar in an 8″ fully vinyl collectible. This one is actually articulated with each of the body segments rotatable. This Siamese version is exclusive to Tenacious Toys.
This guy reminded me of Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat combined with the hookah-smoking caterpillar, so I placed him in kind of a trippy Alice-inspired garden in my photo below.
Finally, there’s “Meowlting” from I Love Doodle. I Love Doodle is the studio and nom-de-plume of Malaysian artist Lim Heng Swee. His illustrations feature whimsical images that employ a lot of word-play and visual puns (like a soft-serve ice cream cone pooping out a soft-serve shaped stool – and yes, it’s cute.) This sherbet variation is an exclusive colorway for Tenacious for Five Points Fest 2019.
I loved the colors here and thought he belonged in a sunny, summer environment that would explain his melting state.
Admittedly, I was trepidacious about shooting these limited-to-no-articulation pieces – not sure as to what I would do to showcase them. But when I got started, I was really drawn in by the charm of them and I began to understand the appeal these have to the people that collect them. You could really build a cool collection of related themes, pieces from specific artists, or just random stuff that appeals to you.
If you’re interested in any of these or lots of other great vinyl, articulated, resin, 1/6th, and 1/12th toys check out the Tenacious Toys website.
Trevor is a New York-based Creative Director and business owner. He has a growing collection of 200ish 1:6th scale stock and custom figures (and more and more Lego sets and Mezcos). Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design talents and – in his mind – justifies the stupid money he spends on these things. When he’s not shooting, he enjoys kayaking, catching up on good TV and building dios.
Last modified: October 7, 2019