If Vinyl Was the New Canvas, then Resin is the new Dream-Visualizer (yes, hardly "catchy" sounding, I know) a shape-shifter, a chameleon in 3-D form, an object to be, within the palms of your hands - ready to be molded into something you envision or dream about. No longer do you need another toy to customize over, now you have the ability to visualize and manifest your own ideas unto 3D-form, without the need for a long wait, a large factory overseas, and deep pockets.
[Resin-produced toys featured in recent articles on TOYSREVIL]
I remember when I first started blogging, vinyl was THE material and only way to lay a claim to your skills if your toy was made in vinyl. Then the prominence of Papertoys and Plush made their mark indelibly in my journey and toy-education. But when the material "resin" turned up on my toy-horizon? I admit, I was hesitant to embrace it - with the material more known to be utilized in "arts and craft", rather than something the "art toys crowd" would loom towards. And frankly the "detailing" just was not as impressive to me…
[Making El Diablo with Argonaut Resins]
Ah but I was wrought by my own tunnel-vision into what "detailing" entailed, as they were more prevalent in mass-market toys, rather than the sheer simplicity of design in the "art toy" world! And I admit I was short-sighted, and did not see the intentions, results and ramifications until works from Argonaut Resins and Indonesia, Bandung-based My Tummy Toys changed my impressions. But WHY resins? Eric Nocella Diaz of U.S.A.-based Argonaut Resins knocks some sense into us:
"Why resin? Why not? For me it makes sense to use resin since I've been using the medium for many years making professional prototypes in the mainstream toy industry and I know it's properties very well. It's affordable for artists who may want to do their own figurine production and it can last longer than most hollow vinyl toys."
[Making Kanji by Argonaut Resins x Jared Deal]
"Most buyers comment on the weight of the bigger solid resins - they feel like they're getting their monies worth in most cases. I also love having total control over the resin medium to be able make what I want exactly how I want. The sky can be the limit with resin figurines - so why not?" ~END
[Self-made resin products from Argonaut Resins]
The material has since surpassed expectations, and gained prominence in the culture, securing a niche for itself alongside Vinyl, Papertoys, Plush etc - with loads of artists being able to actualize and manifest their visions, much quicker than waiting for the vinyl-toy-route. Although the producers of resin are predominately "male", both sexes enjoy the fruits that resin could bore as final figures. And this article is just the tip of the iceberg, with an entire line-up of kaiju-themed producers and creators unmentioned here.
Truth be told, a lot of my private email are enquiries from folks looking for toy-manufacturers - and I find myself recommending "resin" as the current production material of choice, as it has become much more feasible and affordable, than even the smallest run of a vinyl toy. UK-based Cris Rose champions the production-notion:
"Resin is reliable, predictable and effective. Resin is self-reliance. Resin lets your imagination take form and makes it real. Given an ideal mould-design, a figure can be realised in a high quality, easily repeatable fashion with exceptional detail. It's not a fool proof material, you need to know your stuff and bend yourself to it's limitations, but i find it's the design constraints that make life interesting.
Plus it sure beats waiting 18 months to have your robot made in vinyl when you can do it just as well at home in a fortnight." ~Cris
[Self-made resin products from Cris Rose]
A single vinyl toy might be "cheap" (and profitable to retailers), compared to the cost of a minimum production factory run. A single resin toy might be more expensive than your regular mall-toyshop, but there's only 10, 20, 30 pieces of it WORLDWIDE. And the integrity of spirit of an "independent underground artist", is yet "restored"! Or should I say "independent alternative non-mainstream artist"? Labels and opinions morph, and materials-preference change with given time, as it has always been, and always will be.
There does not seem to be much of a difference now between a non-articulation of a figurine (which we do not necessarily name "statue" lol) or an articulated one (which to me denotes "toy" - as it can "move" and hence for "play", and not just for display purposes) these days, so walls of stigmas and taboos are slowly and surely being broken down, least of all mine.
Adam from brand new toy-makers Halfbad Toyz puts it into production perspective;
"Resin is easy to do, but hard to do well. I think many small toy makers start with it, and they don't invest in pressure pots or the proper type of materials, and the product suffers for it. It takes a bit of skill and experience to get good pulls, and we are happy that we can offer a nice resin toy, with no bubbles, good color and fantastic quality. We will still prefer it even as we grow, it is a great medium and I would prefer it to anything else at the moment." ~Adam
[Above: Smash Tokyo Toy's Seismic Centurion (with articulation)
Below: New FOEZ character design from Halfbad Toyz]
Without a doubt, with resin and limited castings, there inevitably would be visible nicks and dents, and even slight deformities - which to many (me included) find rather "charming", and a given, especially with limited edition production pieces. And this somehow encapsulates the spry spirit of "independent artists"! But of course I am profiling against my own expectations, as artists elevate themselves worldwide beyond age-old notions and niche-profiles.
[Resin product closeups from Cris Rose]
For sure I am not saying "resin" will replace "vinyl" - because simply, near everyone still wants to do see their designs made into a vinyl figure, don't they? Regardless, as a "alternative", that journey is made even faster. You make it your own, or you hire another resin slinger to make it for you - the process is just made simply shorter and quicker.
In doing so, we - the collectors and hobbyists - get to see more varieties and more designs than ever before! But if course with the booming culture, there would be haphazard products with less than satisfactory-results, but folks are quick to see for themselves what they are paying for (which somehow denotes a "value" to the item paid for, versus the even wider notion of say, "papertoys"), and folks these days learn fast, really fast.
On another hand, folks keen to showcase their designs, have also found the ability to produce in bulk. One recent event popped into memory - 2010's CLEA / Character Licensing Expo Asia -where a hundred x 10" tall resin replicas of their CE figure were made, with submitted designs from worldwide, painted unto them - for a design showcase [View full-event coverage HERE]. That was indeed a sight to behold, and you get to see your designs on a 3D-form without even the need to paint it yourselves (the customs were painted in Thailand).
The "power" of resin then, was undeniable. Heck, I was even prepared to champion the virtues of resin-made toys in my recent visit to Thailand for CLEA in 2010 - with my own image of a simple line-up of resin toys! But I know I am not the first person expounding the virtues of "resin", and neither would I be the last. The scene has grown so much before and since then…
[Resin products line-up for CLEA 2010]
Loads of shows now celebrate the material, with group shows like The Resin Collective Show in 2009, Toxic Catalyst in 2010 and the upcoming The Resin Toy Juried Show at Toy Art Gallery - is a welcomed event that celebrates the creation of an original form and idea, versus the by-now more traditional custom toy shows, which sees a myriad of creators and artists transforming other people's toys into something they call their own.
The TV Eye Launching Show currently in Bandung Indonesia showcases an Indonesia designed toy in resin form, being customized by various Indonesia-based artists and designers (which TOYSREVIL is currently doing a weekly feature of), is one prime example of combining the best of both worlds, in this respect. And the concept of which we have witnessed before in 2008, when Erick Scarecrow launched The Soopa Show - where a large number of the base-Soopa Bros figures were resin casts!
[Images of TV EYE Launch @ Lou Belle Shop in Bandung, Indonesia]
More and more people are starting to use resin to make their toy-dreams a reality. And I suspect it is not just a "trend". And for one aspect, the financial part of the deal, is quick and direct - you make the toy yourselves, you sell them yourselves, and you pocket the cash directly (minus the material-costs and postage, of course), and that's it! Regardless big bucks or small-change, the transaction and process is shorted with less "pain" involved, and that allows more folks to produce more and at a faster pace, IMHO.
[Resin products from MyTummyToys]
And sometimes it is not just about "how fast" or "how much" - as Marine Ramdhani of My Tummy Toys shares with us the origins and aims of utilizing "resin";
"We use resin cause in our country is easy to get, just try to maximize our passion to make toys, because we like it. We (also) realize that a lot of people in Indonesia had used Resin to make sculpts since years ago.
For me the value of resin toys is (much) more higher than plastic or vinyl, (as it) is more heavy, it is more (like a) statue and is 100% made by hand, and we also must try to appreciated the sculptures more. We can make our toy in extremely less quantities, and sometimes we can make big scale toys too ho ho ho this very very interesting!
We realize that our company is not a big company and hard to make a toy using proper toys material like plastic, ABS or Vinyl, and no one can do that in Indonesia, so why not use this material (Resin) which is the material who (are) already around us."
Creators these days are going hard into making resin toys (and I am not talking about the weekend warrior or hobbyist here) - folks like Motorbot and Jesse DeStasio from USA, Paul Shih from New Zealand, Sergey Safonov from Russia, from the United Kingdom; Tesselate and Cris Rose - are filling their own playgrounds with their own ideas and own toys, and making an aspect of their toy-dreams come true faster, if not of a quality of material of their choice - and one of the best aspects of slinging resin? You do not need an entire factory floor, you save yourselves from the dreaded vinyl-fumes, and you don't need "rocket science" to make you toy-dreams come true. Well known toy-customizer and now toy-maker U.S.A.-based Kevin Olson aka Motorbot makes a convincing argument;
"I use resin because it's easy. Once you get the hang of resin it's pretty easy to use and it's easy to procure. It's also a fast material. It's one of those things that seems difficult and overwhelming from afar, but once you start using it you wonder why you waited so long." ~Motorbot
[Self-made current resin products from Motorbot]
And it is not just individual indie-artists plying their craft, companies like ESC Toy and Circus Posterus are producing a large portion of their wares in resin too, and even Crazy Label in Hong Kong has adopted resin for a number of their products, including Luno and The Moon Wanderers from Sergey. Another champion of resin has been Patch Together, and the grand-daddy of resin production, has been the "Godfather of Bootleg-Suckery"; The Sucklord, from Day-1.
[Behind the Scenes with Sucklord]
But what about other materials other than vinyl, resin, paper and plush?
Wood / Timber became fashionable for a while (but fighting against an entire lifetime of kid's toys with wooden-made blocks, is an uphill climb)… while Porcelain seems to be making it's mark in Europe, I wonder what the next material of choice would be the next "big thing"?
I have been promoting "tin toys" for a while (to friends who would bother listening to me) and seeing Schyling produce Uglydoll-products, is a delight, but more can be done and I hope too someday TOYSREVIL will also have a tin toy design to call my own - ironically, all these materials are materials used in our collective pasts, now embraced in new forms and designs. After all, they are only but materials used to make 3-dimensional manifestations of an idea, aren't they?
[Submissions for Resin Juried Show @ TAG]
The beauty of the art toy scene, is that the artists come before the materials, and now with the emergence of resin as a malleable material, an artist can make himself/herself known faster, by doing their own designs, can't they?
"Self-produced resin is changing the collectibles game." ~ END
And the game is indeed changing expediently. The landscape (as I know it) has but altered within the last four years, and "resin" lies on the razorbladed-edge standing strong amidst the winds of change. A small step to the inevitable vinyl-route? A chance to show the world what you are capable of? An ability to showcase your own talents? Regardless of intent, the material resin seems to be staying put for the moment, and people cannot seem to get enough of it.
[Resin Tuttz flanking a Mini Tuttz from Argonaut Resins]