Abusing toys is my new hobby

Writer Dave Barry said that the four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl. I’m certain he was referring to records but standing in front of a tall glass cabinet full of vinyl art toys in London’s Forbidden Planet several months ago I suddenly felt the need for vinyl in my universe. I had no previous interest in toy customisation, despite being an admirer of the work of many artists involved in toy design, but ended up walking out with a blank white Raffy toy produced by Kidrobot. When I then discovered that there was a dedicated kidrobot store nearby, I soon had accumulated nine toys, one of each blank model they make.

So now I enjoy designing custom toys and here’s how I made my first one (with the assistance of the great folks at the kidrobot Munny forum), which I call Cherry Blossom Fawn.

First I began with the design on paper, testing the layout of elements and colour scheme. I decided on a japanese sakura theme which came out pretty fluidly.

After taking apart the toy and thoroughly washing it to remove any traces of lubricant from the manufacturing process, I transfer the design onto the model using pencils.

Then colour is applied in layers. My hands are too shaky to use fine brushes so I use POSCA Paint Markers, which I find to be excellent, but I’ve heard are difficult to get hold of if you are in the US. Thicker pens for large areas of colour, then thinner pens for outlines over the top once it has dried underneath.

SInce I had pencil marks remaining on the white parts I had to erase them before I could begin varnishing to protect the design. Here’s where it went a bit wrong. I used a multi-purpose matt varnish from Winsor & Newton which I correctly sprayed on in thin coats. Now I realise that particular brand will react with the vinyl causing it to never dry. I have yet to correct this so it still remains sticky to the touch but essentially I now have a finished toy. And here it is.

Once I’ve sorted out the varnish I intend to auction it for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund, I’ll post when I do.

Thanks for reading and keep checking back here to see some more of my toy creations.

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