Confessions of a Toy Pusher: The State of the Union

Today we bring you a new opinion column from a designer toy retailer or to use the author’s preferred alias, "toy pusher".  This column is being authored under that colorful pseudonym so that pusher can let loose just a bit more than might otherwise be the case.  The plan is to have a new "confession" each month.  And with that, here’s the first article.

When the VP posse asked me to put together a column for their website I thought "Why would they want ME to write something about designer toys?"  What do I know anyway? I’m just a retailer, a toy pusher. I can’t speak for the artists and designers out there who toil for hours on end making toys in their little workshops until their fingers bleed (Blood Splattered Exclusive!) nor can I speak for the fans out there who troll on the messageboards and snipe on eBay© for their next vinyl hit. Heck, I can’t even speak for any of the retailers out there. Do they do it for the money (¢¢¢)? Or maybe it’s for their love of beautifully designed toys made for adults and kids with rich parents? Who knows.  I figure I’m just going to write from the point of view I have any authority over, my own. Hope you understand.

Here’s a little info about yours truly. I am a self-absorbed, profit obsessed designer toy retailer who tricks people into spending their hard earned money on little pieces of self destructive vinyl. I also dabble in a little design work from time to time (who doesn’t!). My opinions come from me alone, there are no puppetmasters in the background nor is there a corporate entity funding my choice of the Eric So Hellboy figure being the best design in the known universe. If you have a problem with what I have to say please leave the gracious folks at VP out of it. Shoot me an email at and we’ll have at it there.

The State of the Union (or how I learned to stop worrying and love vinyl)

So, where should we start? There’s a little article by Adrian Faulkner of from 2003 ( that gives a very good intro course in Urban Vinyl/Designer Toys. For all you newbies out there, take a look at this article before buying a single designer toy, it’s a pretty neat read.

One of the reasons I bring up the article is because somewhere in there it states that they coined the phrase “Urban Vinyl”. I’m not trying to go after the AF guys about this but I think there’s some kind of unspoken rule that whoever coins a catchphrase is not allowed to announce their own “coinage”. Someone else needs give AF credit for the phrase to make it legitimate, at least that’s how I feel. I digress, the AF guys are cool and they can claim to invent the term if they like. “Urban Vinyl” has lost most of its relevance now anyway, which brings me to the main point of this article…

The whole “scene” seems to have broken up into factions like a bad
remake of “The Warriors”. You’ve got the original faction which started
the whole scene and still worship the ground Michael Lau walks on (The
“Gardeners”), and the off-shoots from Lau made up of folks who jumped
on the bandwagon and Super Cutey-fied it ( The “Keys”). The Americans
caught on a couple of years later (like always) and not to be outdone
started their own rival gangs made up of the graffiti artists
(“Graffheads”) and low brow artists (“Base-men”). Now before I get
lynched I just wanted to include the bastard babies of the whole scene,
the Secret Base Cult, the true purveyors of the peculiar. I know I’m
generalizing a bit (!) but you get the idea. This is why I use
“Designer Toys” instead of “Urban Vinyl”, for the most part because the
scene is no longer just urban and not everything is made out of vinyl.
Many of the fans out there are dead set on one group and hate all
others (SB!) but for the most part collectors interests overlap many
different groups and even though you may not like the latest Secret
Base floating dog/cactus figure (SB again!) chances are the fans in the
next messageboard are SB fanatics.

I hope this gives you a little idea of my take on the Designer Toy
community. I suggest you read over this article and figure out what
kind of fan you are. Maybe you’ll learn a little bit more about
yourself along the way.

My name is ——— and I am 1-part Base-man, 2-parts Gardener with a splash of Key. What are you?

8 Replies to “Confessions of a Toy Pusher: The State of the Union”

  1. I like where VP is going with 2 colums. And this one seems to be good reading in the morning with a cuppajoe.
    I leaves me wondering where I fit in. I started collecting Spawn toys (that makes me a fanboy), only buy toys from artists that I like (so part Base-man), a little Graffhead but then I create papertoys and hold my own little corner of the toy universe (together with 4 others).
    Maybe I should stop worrying and have another look on that way cool TLP figure that’s coming…

  2. Good having some columnists, I like it.
    BTW the article linked incorrectly lists Michael Lau as starting it all. While it can be argued that he started the HK scene, the japanese scene really started well before then with the release of the Fink-Shit and Kid Hunter years prior.
    Beyond that, remember, toys are fun, so collect some from all styles listed above. Heck, I started on Star Wars.

  3. Odd. I feel a smug and hostile tone here,and dont understand it at all. Your a reatilker and designer,but you have a lot of facts wrong (its Qee btw) and you are criticizing and perhaps even making fun of the very same customer group you are making a living off of/ if so, thats increidibley lame. If thats the case, i hope i find out who you are so i never ever allow my products to be sold in your store.

  4. I don’t understand how you can be “tricking” anyone into anything when you are calling your customers a bad remake of anything. You seem to have a serious amount of disdain for the people your store is supposed to be catering to. For this reason I wonder, why did you got into this buisiness in the first place? If you are so profit obsessed why didn’t you become an investment banker instead of a self proclaimed, “toy pusher”? When people find out who you are I’m sure they’ll go elsewhere to get their fix.

  5. I found this column pointless and offensive. There was no insight provided, and no “secrets”, just bashing. If I ever find out who it is by I will not be making any purchases there.

  6. whats the point of criticizing someone who claims “coinage” and then trying to come up with your own?

Comments are closed.