We all have beloved childhood toys, but are you aware that there is a thriving art scene of toymakers who reimagine their childhood action figures in new and exciting ways?
For the past twenty years, a new breed of art toy makers have been selling their work at galleries, art shows, and hip toy stores. Their work is progressive, often challenging, and a new frontier in pop-art. As chronicled in sites like The Toy Chronicle and overseen by professional guilds like the Designer Toy Awards, these pieces are some of the most strikingly original examples of collectible culture out there.
And, like all art, there's room for the transgressive and the macabre. I've begun collecting the Arcane Divination line of Dunny toys.
Dunnies are a small vinyl art toy of a rabbit with a round body and thick ears. They were created by Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eaton, and produced by Kidrobot since 2004. They're popular figures for creators to modify and personalize, and they've been a staple of Kid Robot's production line.
For Arcane Divination, world-famous designers like Tokyo Jesus, Godmachine, Camilla D’Errico, Jon Paul Kaiser and J*RYU have come together to make eerie occult toys. The pieces draw inspiration from the darker side of religion and mythology, and many have Tarot-esque designs. They're a remarkable series, created by some of the biggest names in the industry, and each piece is both lovingly crafted and very affordable.
I've started a collection I'm very proud of and you can start too! Check out the pieces below.
If you're a collector, or if you have any other recommendations for designer toys, let us know in the comments.