toys

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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)

 

 

 



Design

A Playful Building Kit Incorporates Real-World Physics Concepts With Springs and Magnets

May 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Mola Model is a modular tabletop building kit that includes springs, magnets, and cables to create a realistic experience for hobbyist engineers and aspiring architects. The Brazilian company’s kits help users learn about real-world structural concerns like buckling and sway frame structures by incorporating flexibility that demonstrates the impact of environmental influences. Each kit includes rigid and flexible connections, cables and bars of varying length and flexibility, as well as plates and mats to ground each structure.

The idea for the company came during Márcio Sequeira’s days as an architectural student: he was concerned about how well he was learning the real-world factors that he would need to take into account in his future career. Sequeira spent almost ten years working on developing Mola Model, and has funded all three of its editions on Kickstarter over the last five years. The latest edition has currently secured over 150% of its goal—find the Mola Structural Kit 3 on Kickstarter. (via FastCo)

 

 



Art Design

Send-Ups of Pop Culture and Capitalism Hidden in Retail Stores by Obvious Plant

April 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The next time you’re in a grocery store, pharmacy, or toy department and spot a subtly unusual item, it might an Obvious Plant. Jeff Wysaski, the man behind the meme, has been creating and depositing strange flyers, placards, and packaged products in conventional retail outlets for several years. His creations are often a send-up of a popular pop culture phenomenon like Sesame Street or The Avengers, and feature chuckle-inducing copy, alternately quippy and filled with intentional typos. From a lonely Bert to Barely Any Ketchup (made by “Hardly Foods”), Obvious Plant items have become increasingly elaborate over the years, and Wysanski makes some of his designs available for purchase in an online store.

You can follow along with Obvious Plant’s quirky interventions on Instagram. If these are up your alley, also check out Chindōgu, a concept and subsequent community of designers of useless products, first popularized in 1990’s Japan by Kenji Kawakami.

 

 



Design

Japanese Monster Figurines Apologize For Their Destruction at Press Conference Podiums

March 15, 2019

Johnny Waldman

The art of the apology – it’s an integral part of Japanese culture that helps maintain balance and harmony in society. Combining that with kaiju figurines is this brilliant little set of toys that feature the likes of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla apologizing at a press conference, head hanging solemnly, for the destruction they’ve caused.

The toys were released back in 2016 as part of a promotion campaign for the Shin-Godzilla movie. They were sold as gachapon and retailed for 300 yen each.

They included Godzilla apologizing for destructive vandalism (破壊行為), Mechagodzilla for imitation and copyright infringement (模倣行為) and King Gidra for aggressive invasion (侵略行為). The toys have since been taken off the primary market but for those willing to pay up, they’re available on the secondary market, albeit at a 500+% markup. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Animation

Lost & Found: An Endearing Animated Film About the Selflessness of True Love

December 14, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Lost & Found is an endearing stop motion film that chronicles a dramatic turning point in the sweet relationship between two crocheted animal toys. A foxy fox and smitten dinosaur have enjoyed many special memories in their adopted home of a Japanese restaurant’s lost and found bin. But when the fox topples into a fountain, the dinosaur must give his all to save her. The short film, directed by Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe and produced by Lucy J. Hayes, convincingly imagines the inner lives of its stuffed animal protagonists and uses the fragile nature of crochet as the crux of the storyline. Lost & Found has been widely lauded at film festivals since its debut this year. You can see behind the scenes of the film on the Lost & Found website.