toys

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Design

Inexpensive Toys Fashioned into Unique Action Figures by Artist Tomohiro Yasui

March 8, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Tomohiro Yasui

Tomohiro Yasui is best known as the creator of the paper robot wrestlers called kami-robo, but that’s not the only medium his imagination has conquered. Using wire and cheap rubber duckies, squirting frogs, and plastic hammers, the Japanese artist builds posable action figures that deserve their own Saturday morning cartoons and comic books.

Having spent the past 35 years designing paper robots and plastic toys, Yasui is an expert when it comes to humanoid anatomy in dynamic poses. Multiples of the same donor toys were used to create the chiseled physiques, which means that all of the pieces match in texture and color and did not have to be repainted. If the fantasy figures were packaged and displayed on a shelf in the toy section, no one would be able to guess that they were cut, reconfigured, and assembled by hand.

To see more of these unlikely heroes come to life, follow Yasui on Twitter.

 

 



Design

A DIY Construction Kit Lets Users Create an Intricate Obstacle Course on Any Magnetic Surface

February 19, 2020

Grace Ebert

A new kit asks users to test their design abilities by constructing complex obstacle courses with a goal of having a marble fall seamlessly into its final destination. Created by MakeWay, the buildable set features eight different tracks, twelve tricks (which include a canon, universal joint, and spinner), a lift, and connectors to attach each component to a magnetic surface. The adjustable designs are supposed to be used vertically, causing the marble to be launched, spun, and catapulted down the tracks. Each kit is available in either gold or silver.

MakeWay is headed by Reuven Shahar and Elyasaf Shweka, two industrial designers with backgrounds in engineering and woodworking, respectively. Conceived of in 2016, the project opened on Kickstarter earlier this month and has been wildly popular, meeting its $10,000 goal within the first day and surpassing it tenfold since with more than 50 days to go. Head to MakeWay’s page to back the modular kit.

 

 



Craft

Miniature Creatures Made of Felted Wool by Nastasya Shuljak

January 31, 2020

Andrew LaSane

Moscow-based artist Nastasya Shuljak transforms packs of wool into sculptures of small animals and other whimsical creatures. Plants sprout from the heads of smiling trees and other natural spirits. Polar bears, foxes, hares, and other critters stare through inquisitive eyes applied to their tiny woolen faces. Shuljak’s toys are an exercise in the flexibility of the material and also a way to bring joy to all who meet them.

Shuljak, a former theater artist and art teacher, tells Colossal that the practice of making creatures began when friends gifted her some wool. With that first bag she made a bear and a hare, and the menagerie has been growing ever since. “I saw children’s sonorous happiness in an adult man holding in his hands what I did,” says Shuljak. “Until now, it touches me, causes surprise and peace.” Commenting on the purpose of the figures, she added that her animals “do not aspire to the exhibition hall, do not claim to be art. These are just small lumps of joy, carefree second smiles.”

Shuljak teaches classes in Moscow on how to create the toys and also sells them via social media. For more information on upcoming workshops and to meet more of these adorable wool creatures, follow Shuljak on Instagram.

 

 



Design

A Set of Six Uniquely Textured Toys Engages Children in Processing Their Emotions

November 20, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A set of six figurines made from wood and silicone are designed to help children process difficult memories and emotions. Created Israeli designer Yaara Nusboim, the “Alma” dolls correlate to different feelings: fear, pain, emptiness, love, anger and safety. The unique textures and colors of fuschia spikes, turquoise shards, and pink petals prompt children to engage with the dolls in different ways.

Nusboim envisions the dolls being used as part of play therapy, wherein a therapist can observe their young patient’s behaviors and choices with the toys to help unpack underlying psychological or emotional concerns. “Playing with a toy provides a safe psychological distance from the child’s private problems and allows them to experience thoughts and emotions in a way that’s suitable for their development,” the designer explained to Dezeen.

Take a peek into the design process in the video below, and explore more of Nusboim’s socially conscious designs on her website. (via Dezeen)

 

 



Art Craft Design

Hand-Carved Wood Sculptures by Jui-Lin Yen Capture Cartoonish Facial Expressions

November 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Taiwanese woodworker Jui-Lin Yen (previously) creates charming sculptural characters using traditional techniques. Silky-smooth finishes, expert inlay, and careful joinery are used to create cartoonish figures. Yen’s initial foray into woodworking resulted in fully-formed characters with distinct heads, torsos, and limbs. His recent projects have been more abstract, focusing on facial expressions.

Though many of his initial creations were gifts for his children, due to interest in his work Yen has also started offering some of his pieces for sale online. Alongside the whimsy and charm of his creations, Yen also incorporates functionality: ducks double as serving platters, freestanding birds hold air plants, and many of the works shown here are meant to be installed on walls and used as hooks for clothing or keys. Peek into Yen’s studio via Instagram and keep up with new projects on Facebook.

 

 



Art

Miniature Castles Emerge from Burled Wood in Carved Kinetic Sculptures by Uli Kirchler

September 6, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Woodworker Uli Kirchler’s “very hidden castles” are nestled within gnarled tree burls. The Portland, Oregon-based artist originally hails from Italy, and works with unique pieces of wood with textural surfaces and variegated colorations. He has developed a process of carving multi-story towers that telescope in and out of the wood with the flick of a wrist. The stacked, castle-like towers appear to be built on the rocky hillsides emulated by the knots, burls, and twists in the wood’s natural shape. Kirchler frequently shows his kinetic sculptures at the Portland Saturday Market You can see more of his designs in action on Instagram. (via Art Insider)

 

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Design

A New 1,087-Piece LEGO Set Celebrates NASA’s 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

June 4, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s 1969 mission, which landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. To celebrate the semicentennial event, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has teamed up with LEGO to release a 1,087-piece replica of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module. The model is equipped with both descent and ascent features and comes with with a base plate that mimics the surface of the Moon— including embedded square holes that match the astronaut figures’ foot prints. LEGO launched the sale of the model earlier this month. You can find this LEGO set and other NASA-inspired space modules on their website. (via designboom)