Sometime during the Spring quarter at UC Santa Cruz, a few friends and I made the trek down to Disneyland in sunny Anaheim, CA. While there, I noticed they had these weird Mickey Mouse figurines that all had the same basic shape but different designs. The catch was, you never knew which design you were going to get because they were each individually sealed in boxes. Some versions of the figurine were much more rare than others. I kept telling my girlfriend I thought they were cool, but I didn't want to spend $10 on one. The sweetie that she is, bought me one. I eagerly ripped it open to see what I got. A weird burger design was printed on the figurine. Compared to the other designs I was pretty happy on my pull.
Needless to say, I was hooked. I love art, but could never justify spending upwards of $100 on a print (at least back then). My friend Anthony also picked up a mickey mouse figurine. He got a paint by numbers design, which was also a clever take on the character.
Skip forward a few weeks, and I was a madman. I began researching brands, companies, and artists to see what sort of stuff was out there. I never realized there was such a huge market for vinyl toys, but let me tell you, it's a bit insane.
Companies will produce a toy in a limited run, creating anywhere from 1 to 1,000 pieces. The tricky part is, if you don't snag one before they're sold out, you're out of luck. If you really have your heart set on a particular toy, you may have to resort to eBay (aka "evil Bay") where flippers will often charge double or more for a toy. There are so many artists with so many unique styles that it's hard not to find a toy you're psyched on. Right now, I'm a huge fan of the artists Frank Kozik, Sket One, Buff Monster, Huck Gee, and Shepard Fairy.
What turned into a giggly school girl obsession has moved more into an investment plan for me. Now I don't buy every toy that catches my eye. Instead, I wait it out to go after a piece a really like. It's much easier to flip pieces from a limited release than it is to sell common toys that were made in huge quantities. Obviously, my goal in life isn't to liquidate my collection, but if times ever get rough, I'll have a nice security blanket to fall back on.
Another reason my girlfriend and I really enjoy vinyl toys is because, well, they serve as really great photographic subjects! They're posable and they'll stay still for you while you compose your shot. I've also been trying a few outdoor shoots with them as well. Below are a few of the images my girlfriend and I have taken over the last few months!
It's hard to say if this addiction is a fad. I'm not sure if I'll ever lose interest, but for now I love it. I was never really into collecting things, but I think I finally found my niche! I just have to be careful not to go overboard...