Apologies that it’s taken a while for this post, just like how our anticipation was stretched to its limits waiting for the event, but we couldn’t let go of posting about it because ToyCon, UK’s first vinyl toy show, was such a fantastic treat and a collection of amazing.
A year after hearing about it, we headed down to LNDN in April with bags of excitement and our fullest wallets. We certainly were not disappointed.
Having been to many a comic/fan convention, we thought we knew what to expect; a mass of stalls, sweating crowds and a lot of stuff you just aren’t fussed over but ToyCon was a shining exception to the rule.
Organised by Barry Darnell, owner and curator of the The Hang Gang who as well as selling designer toys has been collecting them for over 12 years, Ben Hart, who is a living encyclopedia of the designer toy industry with a regular presence on the Kid Robot forums, and Jonjo Glynn who is the business half of A Little Stranger. This show managed to blow our tiny minds to pieces along with our bank accounts because it was so well curated.
In the foyer we were greeted with some impressive big-scale work from Planet Domu.
On entering the main hall, the show appeared to be rather small but as we got our peepers on the eye candy on offer at each table, we soon realised this was a revelation for the UK toy scene; spending an hour perusing the first three stalls is really a sign of something good.
Our first stop was Artransmitte who are really lovely folk; passionate about graphic, street and contemporary art and focused on seeking out new and established artists to lay before our eyes. First purchase of the day was on their well-decked out stall and we got our hands on Raaar, which was a Toycon exclusive early UK release from Dynamiterex.
Next up were some great works from David Stevenson who mostly customises toys with intricate hand-drawn leaf patterns in Posca pens. We were impressed with the style of his art and his display of toys.
Then came the genius works of Chris Dobson aka Alto. Chris is a fully qualified architect and you can really see how this skill comes in to play with his origami-like designs. We were gobsmacked with his works; the lines and angles of these creations are outstanding and they are finished gorgeously. Just released are the mini DIY Skelevex, get your mitts on these awesome skulls here.
Chris Dobson also collaborates with Monsters and Mecha, a husband and wife team who work on some awesome resin and plush toys.
We are never not blown away by the skill of these guys and their custom QiQi was simply a treat. Taking time at this stall topped up our eye-food meters and also gave us the chance to have a good chat with the utterly lovely Paul Vincett who had kindly taken some time earlier in the year to complete our HoB interview. Can’t wait to see what the guys have been secretly working on for the Next Thor film
We were delighted to stumble across John Paul Kaiser whose customization pieces are mind-boxingly ace. We love his Black & White custom style, influenced by comic book art, film noir & Ukiyo-e prints.
We’ve dabbled a little with some paper crafting templates from Dolly Oblong and were very excited to oggle at their stand and pick up the Toy Con Exclusive Billy Brains. The character designs are simple and quirky, transformed into plush, paper and vinyl. It’s been great watching the rise of Dolly Oblong; from their open-minded, resource sharing paper-craft beginnings to the small-scale resin production of an awesome toy and a stall at the biggest ToyCon in the UK. Well played D.O.!
Another new find for us was Podgy Panda; an artist, animator, illustrator and graphic designer. Loved his sketchy kawaii versions of some of the worlds most beloved characters and his customisation pieces are well worth checking out.
Taylored Curiosities were in attendance showcasing plush that combines toy design with aromatherapy to bring you an eye treat for the soul. These sat alongside vinyl versions of their embryo’s and seedlings and some great one-off pieces. We love the jars and accessories that come with the T.C. stuff.
Another new discovery was the works of David Bishop (RunDMBVinyl), part of Red Mutuca studios who are an art collective of heavily talented artists and designers from around the globe who share the same passion for developing creative solutions for designer art toys, limited edition and custom toy pieces, character designs, illustrations, street art, accessories, animation and art shows. Wowzer. We were blown away by David’s custom pieces and his strong-style, and we really love the graffiti feel of his customs.
There was some beautiful paint and customisation on display by Lunabee. Gorgeous colours and style with a slick execution.
We got a bit giddy at the stand by A Little Stranger. Every different Cavey that they’ve made so far was on show, and that’s a lot of Cavey. We love this cute little plush feller and the individuality that each one has. We were mega pleased to see them all and pick one up in vinyl form. We also purchased the awesome ‘toy topper’ art they were selling, which was a brilliant piece of merch that nicely showcased the packaging work. Bravo!
Holly, the brains behind A Little Stranger is an artist, designer, sculptor and model-maker across a range of industries, specialising in toy prototyping and production. Holly was also responsible for the sculpt of the awesome Toy Con Exclusive T Con the Toyconasaurus figure, which she sculpted straight from the 2d logo. Find out more about that process in this awesome blog post from the girl herself.
Dudebox are another great bunch of folk supporting and giving artists a platform to create. We picked up a couple of their DIY figures to get creative with
Another new discovery was the customisation pieces and artwork of Hugh Rose. Great detail and unique style.
We’ve bought a few things from the Minty Fresh dudes before and it was great to meet them at the show. Their online store has excellent service, is very friendly and they bring us the latest in vinyl toys = these guys are awesome! We were so impressed with their own figure, Mr Busy we picked a couple up for our own collections.
We were most pleased to find the custom work of Squink who, it turns out is a local lad to Sheffield, we’ll be keeping our beadies on him in the future. His paint work, sculpting and finish is stunning!
Luckily enough his partner in crime turns out to be Haus of Boz, who sculpted this awesome Narwhal custom from a Lovebird by KRONK. Equally great to find a local gal doing truly great stuff, another new blip on the HoBdar.
We were very excited to come across our home town favourites Tado. Released for Toy Con was Panda Otaku Vol 1. Adding to the greatness of this was that the toy was hand carved out of wood by fellow Sheffielder and woodcarver genius Nick Hunter. The packaging on the Panda Otaku Vol 1 was awesome! We love these guys bigstylelongtimekissykissy.
Okkle are another great team to watch out for. A UK based artist, illustrator, animator and games designer with a penchant for character and creature design.
Ume Toys are another UK led team to watch out for.
We thought these Blue Gangster Dubbys were pretty tasty by Stuart Witter
Another hot find were Creo Design: a Scottish Independent Designer Art Toy producer.
Along with stalls of toys from new and existing upcoming talent there were also talks on toy customising and making which were insightful and inspiring and encouraged us to think about making our own vinyl toy! More news of that to come
The day as a whole was a little bit of a dream come true and filled our minds and our bags with new and ace things galore, even alla these words and pictures cannot quite explain how excited we were.
Naturally we are ecstatic that this event was successful enough to be returning in 2014 and it’s great to see that the UK Toy scene is in excellent health and continues to grow. It’s brilliant that there are so many people out there doing so much great stuff and frankly we bloody love it.