May 28, 2013
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Hugh Rose
Welcome to the May edition of Reactor-88's Custom Corner. This month we're highlighting Hugh Rose, who resides on the small island of Guernsey. If you're not familiar with Guernsey, it's a British Crown dependency located in the English Channel. One bit of Guernsey trivia- it is the only English soil that the Nazis conqured during WWII. It's a very unique place and has been very inspirational to Hugh, who started making toys about four years ago. Hugh helps out at a local school art department in the day, and afterwards treks to his studio to continue with his passion for making custom toys.
A lot of Hugh's toys have a classic nautical theme, which I really enjoy and of course makes sense living on a tiny island. Along with very nice, subtly sculpted additions, many of Hugh's pieces are jam packed with tons of detail - it's easy to get lost in each piece just staring at all the intricate paint work. I can only imagine how long it took him to finish his "Once and Future King" Munny. Hugh mainly creates for shows and direct sales through his site, but he is taking commissions at the moment. If you'd like to discuss a project with him, he can be reached through his site at www.hughrose.co.uk or directly via email. If you'd just like to admire Hugh's work, you can follow him on Twitter or friend him over on Facebook.
Apr 30, 2013
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Charles Rodriguez
Welcome to the April edition of Reactor-88's Custom Corner. This month we're highlighting Charles Rodriguez, who hails from Caracas, Venezuela. Charles is a trained graphic designer who has been working as a creative director at an international advertising agency, though he recently left his job to focus full-time on his custom toy art. He's also a new member of Red Mutuca Studios, which is jam packed with talented folks such as Sergio Mancini, Grimsheep, and many more. One of the first things you'll notice about Charles' work is that none of his creations have eyes. While many folks utilize the eyes of their characters to bring out emotion and set a mood, Charles focuses on a heavy, defined brow to set the tone of his pieces. He also adds a lot of texture to his work with a very interesting raised hair technique, along with very precise carved-in fur and other details. On top of that, I really love that he sometimes creates a larger scene for his pieces, such as the ice throne he created for his Amarok Fonzo Custom- amazing stuff. If you enjoy Charles's work as much as I do and you are interested in working with him, he can be reached via email for commission inquiries. If you'd like to keep up with him and his work, he can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Behance.
Mar 29, 2013
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner -- Artmymind
Welcome to the March edition of Reactor-88's Custom Corner. This month we're highlighting the dynamic duo of Julia and Guillaume Lachambre, aka Artmymind. They are full-time French artists currently working out of a secret lair in Poland, where they create custom vinyl toys and original resin figures, as well as some other crazy projects that will be revealed later this year. They have a strong love for Asian culture- it is an important source of inspiration and influence in their artwork. They also love Sashimi, so it's fitting that Japan was the birthplace of Artmymind and location of their first studio.
I first came across Julia and Guillaume's work last year and was immediately blown away by what I saw. While their creations are still toys at heart, they could easily be confused for museum-quality works of art. The level of detail and craftsmanship in their work is amazing- I can only imagine the amount of time and effort that goes into each creation. And the toy community has taken notice as well- you can purchase pieces from the their online store, though the majority of their work is currently sold out. They also have a very long commission list, but don't let that stop you from emailing them to discuss art, collaborations, or future projects. If you'd just like to keep up with them and their fantastic work, they can be found in the usual places as well- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their blog.
Feb 26, 2013
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner -- WuzOne
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For February, we're highlighting WuzOne. WuzOne (who's real name is Jose) is from Seville, Spain, where he's a practicing psychologist and avid basketball player. Jose became aware of art toys back in his graffiti days, but didn't start painting them until 2008. Since then Jose has painted and sold more than 400 custom toys. He's also appeared in many gallery shows across the globe and of course had work showcased at our favorite toy mecca- San Diego Comic-Con. Jose is inspired by typography, Arabic calligraphy, music and cartoons. Speaking of cartoons, WuzOne is probably best known for his pop-culture customs, but it seems more and more he's developing his own very interesting style. On the surface they appear to be monster-ish figures with eyeballs as a recurring theme, but beyond that the colors, abstractness, and complexity really make the pieces. I think his three most recent pieces are probably my favorites, as he continues to push his work in new directions. If you'd like to see more of WuzOne's work, head over to his Flickr or Behance page. Of course he can also be found on Facebook and has an online store presence as well. Lastly for commission inquiries, he can be reached via email.
Jan 29, 2013
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner -- Southerndrawl
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. To kick off 2013, we're highlighting long-time customizer Southerndrawl. SD is originally from Texas (hence the name) but calls New Jersey home. He's got a non art-related day job, so to get his creative fix he toils away at his craft during the wee hours of the night. Before entering into the realm of customizing toys, SD was carving his own wooden toys and figures. One day he hopes to return to wood carving, but for now it's just about the vinyl toys.
One of my favorite things about Southerndrawl's work is his style of meshing the mechanical with the organic. He focuses on animals for his subject matter, giving them a real-world feel- they're weathered and worn as if they've really been living out in the wild for years. While the majority of SD's work revolves around this style, a few years back he totally changed things up and created a set of old-time circus characters- to this day those are still some of my favorite mini customs. In case you were wondering he does take commissions, although he tends to shy away from Mad*Ls and 3-inch Dunnys (but loves Teddy Troopers.) To see more of Southerndrawl's work, check out the pics below. If that doesn't satisfy you or you'd like to contact him for a commission, head over to the Southerndrawl blog or Flickr page.
Dec 23, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Otto Bjornik
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. To wrap up 2012, we're highlighting Björn Eding, aka Otto Björnik. Björn resides in the Philippines and is a trained architect, but has pursued a career as a designer/illustrator with much success. Björn came across the vinyl toy scene back in 2009, but didn't actually start toy customizing until a few years later. Hoping to realize his dream to be a painter, his early works were more just exercises with acrylics. At the same time, he experimented with transferring his character illustrations to toys and that definitely clicked with the toy community. My first glimpse of Björn's work was his very impressive Dunny chess set. Looking beyond the shear feat of creating an entire set of chess custom toys, his actual designs stood out as very unique. They have a very classic, delicate, and whimsical look- almost as if they stepped right out of an antique fairytale book. He also sticks to a very minimal palette- usually focusing on black and white and sometimes one accent color, which also accentuates the old world feel. And while I'd like to keep this totally focused on toys- his 2D pen and ink artwork is phenomenal and should definitely be checked out as well. So to peruse all of his work and much more, head over to the Otto Björnik website.
Nov 26, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Jason Jacenko
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For the month of November we're highlighting Jason Jacenko. Jason runs 626ink- a custom tattoo studio and gallery in Melbourne, Australia. He's been tattooing for twenty years and has been a standout in the custom toy scene for as long as I can remember. His work leans toward the creepy, but even his scariest characters always seem to have some lovable quality to them- I think it's the eyes. The most impressive aspects of his work for me are the accuracy and attention to detail that he injects into each piece he creates- they almost look alive. Also, the texture and depth in his work can look so realistic it's easy to forget you're looking at a flat toy surface. So if you're like me and want to make sure you don't miss any of Jason's work, be sure to friend him over on Facebook - he shows some great work in progress shots. If you'd like to purchase one of Jason's paintings or custom toys, be sure to check out his new online store.
Oct 31, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Nena Ngyuen
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. Before October rides off into the sunset [ed: Due to lag on our end, cut this one really close], we're highlighting another fantastic toy customizer- Nena Nguyen. Nena is a small, quirky girl from Vancouver, Canada, who stuffs her face in finance textbooks during the day and vibrant Createx colors during the night. Her passion for customizing began at the age of 16- back then it was about hitting up Mini Munnys with markers. Since then, Nena has really pushed to improve the quality of her work with eye-catching color combinations and interesting characters. I found Nena's work earlier this year and have to agree- her interesting character design, nicely sculpted enhancements, and striking color palettes really draw you in and force you to give her work a second look. I am definitely going to be keeping an eye on Nena as she continues to turn out some very impressive work. If you'd like to keep tabs on her as well, be sure to check out Nena's website.
Sep 28, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner : Emily Bee
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. September is almost gone, so it's time to highlight one of my favorite toy customizers - Emily Bee. Emily works in the animation industry, which takes her all over the globe. She currently resides in Granada, Spain and is working on an animated feature produced by Antonio Banderas. Her past animation credits include "The Thing", "Sucker Punch", and "Alvin & the Chipmunks" to name a few. When she's not at her day job, Emily can be found banging elbows at the roller derby rink or drawing, painting, and sewing. I first became familiar with Emily via her plush work, and have watched her transition to focus more on custom toys. What really draws me to Emily's pieces are her bold color palettes, and the gothic feel of her designs. She also has a unique characteristic of incorporating lettering into a lot of her work which is a nice touch. If you'd like to keep up with Emily Bee, you can follow her on Twitter and check out more of her work on her blog and Flickr page.
Aug 24, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner: Betso
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For August we are highlighting long-time toy customizer Betso. He is originally from Las Vegas, but now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. When his 9 to 5 day is over, Betso burns the midnight oil and concentrates on his paintings and custom toys. Some of you may have first been introduced to his work via the Kidrobot Dunny 2011 Series, but I've known Betso for a long time and it's always a treat to see his work. He cites his influences as animals, cartoons, and graffiti- all three are lovingly meshed into his work. My favorite aspects of his customs are the character's big, bugged out eyes and comical facial expressions. It's easy to imagine some strange, cartoon animal world where all of them live. I would love to see some original toys from Betso- toy companies I hope you're taking notes. In the meantime, you can keep up with Betso over on Instagram (under betsoart) or his Flickr page.
Jul 30, 2012
Reactor-88's Custom Corner : Frank Mysterio
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For July we are highlighting Rafael Pantoja, probably better known in the toy world as Frank Mysterio. Rafael resides in Mexico City and works as a graphic designer by day, but come night he shifts gears and moves to his art- which consists of graffiti, painting, digital illustration and of course custom art toys. I've been following Rafael's work for a while now, and one thing that amazes me is the quantity of work he puts out. I was under the impression he was a full-time artist, but I guess he just never sleeps. Rafael has a range of styles, which are based on Mexican culture and the use of excess color. I'm particularly partial to his Dead Robot customs, indigenous pieces like his Tlaloc Marshall set, and most recently the super bright, rainbow sprays of pieces like his Rebel Azteka 2. Besides churning out more custom toys, Rafael is currently working on an original Kaiju toy with good friends Chauskoskis and BTZ, and will have a show in September focusing on Kaiju and replicas of pre-Hispanic handicrafts. To keep up with Frank Mysterio and see more of his work, follow him on Twitter and check out his Flickr page.
Blogged on iPad.
Jun 26, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner : Ryan the Wheelbarrow
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For June we are highlighting Ryan the wheelbarrow. Some of you may know Ryan as Kidrobot's social media ambassador, but he is also an artist and trained graphic designer. Wheelbarrow's custom toy work really caught my eye when he first released his ty_po Dunnys. As an old graphic designer myself, the rub down text brought back memories and its use on toys was something I don't recall ever seeing been done before. Since then he's really grown his typographic style by varying them from the clean, geometric look on his text_r customs to the more colorful and chaotic look on his [O8STACLES] series of customs (the later which utilize a unique screen printed acrylic on vinyl stickers technique). I feel his pieces surpass the traditional custom toy label and could easily be displayed in a fine art gallery. One thing I do sometimes wonder is if he's hidden some actual words or phrases on these guys- I'll need to ask him one of these days… To keep up with all things Ryan the wheelbarrow, be sure to check out his website, follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ryanwheelbarrow, and of course become a fan of his Facebook page. Also if you're heading to Comic-Con this year, you can catch Wheelbarrow screen printing exclusive SDCC Kidrobot shirts live at the Kidrobot booth #4529 on Sunday, July 15th.
May 28, 2012
Reactor-88’s Customer Corner: Rohby
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. To close out the month of May we are highlighting Rohby, a full-time toy designer working out of Santa Ana, California. He's very involved in the Macross/Robotech scene creating extremely accurate and detailed scale pieces of some of the classic mechs from that world. At the same time he creates original works and of course customizes toys that we are all familiar with in the vinyl art toy world. I was first introduced to Rohby's work when I came across his custom VF-11 "Thunderbolt" Munny many years ago. At that point I knew Rohby was someone to keep an eye on and over the years he's continued to impress with pieces like his Mad_Catz custom Mad*L and Siberian SWAT mech suit Munny. To keep up with Rohby and his work, check out his blog and flickr page.
Apr 20, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner: Fakir
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For the month of April we are highlighting Fakir, a full-time artist based in Paris. Fakir has a range of talents- illustration, character design, painting and of course custom toy making. He has also self-produced his own DIY toy, the Rabbit Qbiq. When I first saw Fakir's customs, I had mistaken them for production pieces. His paint application is super tight- even on the smallest 3-inch Dunny. But paint is only one part of the equation- he has a fantastic range of fun characters that are perfectly suited for each platform he chooses. I really enjoy his work and it was extremely hard just choosing a sampling to show here, so if you'd like to see more, head over to Fakir's website.
Mar 16, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner: Stuart Witter
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. For March I'm featuring the very talented Stuart Witter. Stu hails from London and is a self-proclaimed mercenary artist-engineer- which means he makes whatever cool stuff people want. Some of his clients include Hasbro, Sony Records, WOW toys, and Games Workshop. When it comes to custom toys, he has his own brand called Lowlife which has collaborated with the likes of Jon Burgerman and David Blandy. I first came across Stu's work many years ago during the Kidrobot Mini Munny Mobile contest. His "Batmun" custom took the Best in Show award. I knew at the time he'd be someone to watch, and he hasn't disappointed over the years. From the sculpting to the paint application, each of his figures looks like it's a prototype for a production run. They're ultra-clean and ultra-impressive. I also love the sinister expression that you find on most of his pieces- it's all in the eyes… As a bonus, Stu has graciously given me the exclusive on his newest custom, The Goodnight Panda (above). Stu tells me we'll see more collaborations with UK toy artists from Lowlife soon- I for one can't wait… To keep up with Stu, be sure to like his Facebook page, and to see more of his custom toy work, check out his Flickr photo stream here.
Feb 29, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner: Grimsheep
Welcome to Reactor-88's Custom Corner. To close out February, I'm featuring one of my favorite custom artists, Owen DeWitt, probably better known as Grimsheep. Owen is a full-time toy artist who also squeezes in a little illustration, painting and web design. He currently resides in Maine by way of Montreal, Canada. I remember seeing Grimsheep's customs a few years back and what initially drew me to them was the line work. I know firsthand how much time and effort it takes to get precise, symmetric shapes and lines with just a paintbrush, so I'm always impressed when I see ultra-clean work like his. Since I'm also a big Star Wars fan, his Stormtrooper customs caught my eye as well. I really liked how he took the iconic character and blended it with his own unique style, as opposed to just rehashing the original design. But Stormtroopers are just a small part of his arsenal- from Woodland Style customs to his bands of animal assassins, Owen has a wide range of designs for everyone's tastes. To see more of Grimsheep’s work, check out his website.
Jan 31, 2012
Reactor-88’s Custom Corner: MAp-MAp
Welcome to the first edition of Reactor-88's Custom Corner. Since I got involved with custom art toys back in late 2005, the art toy landscape has really grown and I'm constantly amazed by some of the custom toys people create. So my goal with this recurring feature is to highlight one artist's stand-out custom toy art. It might be a single piece or a complete body of work.
For this inaugural post, it's the latter. Matthew Platter, aka MAp-MAp is a traditional and digital artist based out of the UK. The first time I saw his work I was blown away. He pairs some really awesome sculpting abilities with excellent use of color to make his characters come to life. Where a lot of toy artists can sometimes go overboard by sculpting a piece beyond recognition, Matthew gets it right- his additions really enhance the original toys and take them to a new level. What's also nice about Matthew's work is that while each piece is very unique, they all have a cohesive feeling and you could imagine them all living together in some strange, far-off world. So if you like his creations as much as I do and want to keep up with him and his work, check out his website.