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What Are Vinyl Action Figures?
A New Style of Action Figure With
Urban Art Implications
action figures (sometimes called Urban Vinyl Action figures)
have a relatively short history but have become an extremely
popular form of collectible. urbandictionary.com
provided the following information:
Urban Vinyl is an art form which began in the late
1990's that falls somewhere between high art and action figure
design. These vinyl figures carry a graffitii artist sensibility
and are usually produced in small runs (between 500 and 2000).
The urban vinyl toy craze started in Hong Kong, with artist
Michael Lau credited with starting the trend. The design
of the toys is mainly done by graffiti artists, musicians,
djs, illustrators, and comic book artists from places like
Hong Kong, Japan, New York and San Francisco.
For example, Takashami Murakami, the Japanese artist and
designer, has had his art in the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum
of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and now he has
urban vinyl toys. Frank Kozik of San Francisco, a well known
rock poster artist, has begun creating a series of toys
in Japan and here in the states. Sometimes the toy is designed
completely by an artist - body, clothes, accessories and
paint. At other times the artist designs the shape and then
another artist paints it. Some of the toys were created
by as many as 12 different artists. Urban Vinyl figures
have become collector's items sometimes selling for hundreds
or even thousands of dollars.
Spawned by the incorporation of hip hop into Asian and
American popular culture, Urban Vinyl also very often depicts
figures from the genre (such as Michael Lau's depiction
of the LMF rappers from Hong Kong) or other facets of youth
oriented, urban pop culture.
Sports Figures Go Urban Vinyl
For sports action figure collectors' purposes, the term "vinyl
figures" refers to Upper Deck' All-Star Vinyl figures.
A recent article from Upper Deck provided the following
information regarding the All-Star Vinyl figures:
San Diego-based freelance comic and figure artist Sean
Galloway, 32, designed the All-Star Vinyl Super Bowl quarterback
series. Galloways credits include commissioned art
for Batman, Hellboy and Teen Titans.
I love to create art; but what I love even more is
to create with meaning. This project allowed me to reinterpret
NFL players as we all envision themlarger than life,
said Galloway. The artists artwork is featured prominently
on each figures packaging, giving collectors insight
into the design of each player.
The sports action figures were sculpted by Rocco Tartamella,
a well-known toy sculptor who has done work for such clients
as Mattel, Hasbro, and McFarlane. Taratamella also sculpted
Upper Decks LeBron series.