What Is This Limited Edition Urban Vinyl Toy Thing?

Well… It all started a couple years back with a man called Michael Lau, a designer and painter in Hong Kong. He was asked to do some cover art for a band called Anidoze in the late 1990′s and instead of going the usual 2-D art route, he decided to create an original vinyl figure and took photos of it to reveal his totally unique work to the world. Shortly after that the first real Urban Vinyl line was created called The Gardeners, which is a series of 12″ Vinyl figures. The name Urban Vinyl came about due to the designer toys depicting Asian and Western pop and urban culture. Some examples include Lau’s depiction of the LMF rappers from Hong Kong and Jamie Hewlett’s depiction of Gorillaz, or Timebandits. However, not all vinyl figures have real-life characteristics with ranges depicting animals, aliens, super heroes, real-life, fantasy figures and anything else the imagination could dream up. The nature of the urban vinyl medium results in no limits or boundaries to the possibilities of what can be achieved in terms of design or art works. These are completely original works of art from the moment they are conceptualized to the time of their completion. This makes them true collector’s items whilst at the same time providing the artist a new medium to create and express themselves through.

Pieces are reproduced in limited numbers for release and are sold in only the most contemporary cool stores for prices that range from a couple of dollars up to thousands of dollars. New artists are popping up on the urban vinyl radar on a constant basis with examples like Takashi Murakami, Frank Kozik, and former graffiti artist KAWS taking up the medium. Not wanting to get left in the dark, companies such as Achy Breaky, Kidrobot, StrangeCo and Critter Box have also begun exploring the endless possibilities on offer in this exciting arena. They all have the same thing on their minds and that’s the production of supremely cool limited edition urban vinyl, AKA the designer toy.

So you find yourself asking how they’re produced. Some are produced in a process called rotocasting or centrifugal casting that uses a soft PVC plastic. In this process a small amount of plastic is placed in a metal mold and then spun at high speed on two axes (x and y for example). This is a manufacturer favorite as it’s cost effective, allowing for the creation of larger figures with evenly spread plastic that are lighter due to their hollow center. The next method is injection moulding, where the vinyl is injected in between two halves. After it sets, you remove the mold and you have your vinyl figure. There are a number of guides and I’ll post up the links so you can check them out. Urban Vinyl truly has exploded onto the designer scene and it looks to have taken hold with a relentless grip! I know it’s got me somewhat addicted!