DesignerCon 2011 RECAP

DesignerCon 2011

November 5th marked the 6th and biggest year of DesignerCon, the world’s premier designer toy (and related ephemera) extravaganza. For 7 hours, artists and toy collectors converged on Pasadena. Words were exchanged, credit cards were swiped and future plans were made. The next day, as quickly as we’d all arrived, we left with junk in our trunks and suitcases swollen in excess of carry-on capacity. Let’s make this a 2-day affair for 2012, yeah?

Oh: I’m trying out a new WordPress plugin that lets me embed multiple photo galleries within a post. I know you guys aren’t crazy about having to sit through slideshows or click tons of thumbnails, but it was the best solution for getting this posted in a timely manner. Seeing as it’s 2:45 AM, maybe that didn’t really pan out. Oh well. Please click the little arrows underneath the pictures, and you’ll see more pictures. DesignerCon was a lot of fun, and I already look forward to returning next year.

Circus Posterus

Like many people, at the strike of 10AM, I made a beeline for Circus Posterus. (The other popular 10AM destinations seemed to be Lulubell and Paul Kaiju’s booth.) If you think that CP’s tables look a bit bare in these photos, it’s because hands were grabbing and items were disappearing. I had to get in there too so pardon me if my photographic composition is lacking. Circus Posterus collective artists attending DCON included founders Kathie Olivas and Brandt Peters as well as Amanda Spayd, Chris Ryniak, Doktor A and newest member Dril One. That’s another reason why we need a second day at DesignerCon, by the way. I didn’t get to see much of Chris or Dok, and I missed the entirety of Dril’s hazing. I hope someone will post it to YouTube soon. Congrats to Dril One on joining CP!

Sergey Safonov

Sergey Safonov may have been the DCON exhibitor who traveled the furthest to get to Pasadena. The Moscow-based designer showcased a table full of new resins, including his first resin mini-series, The Flirps (in green, blue and red). The Flirps were joined by Pillowpina, Gooma and Friends, new mini Lunos, airbrushed Godots and more Moon Wanderers for whom I can’t get enough. (Check out more photos of the releases, and a really cool animated gif, upon which I worked tirelessly, here.) We also had a surprise reveal: Gooma in Boat (Four Seasons). I’ve been working on these with Sergey and MAQET, and it was really exciting to see such a positive response to the prototypes. Expect Plastin Goomas to sail into shore sometime very soon… By the way, if you’re in the Bay Area, Sergey is hanging with me through Wednesday night. Then he’s off to New York for a few days. Get in touch with him if you’re around!

[Begin unsolicited advice] Thinking back to Sergey’s table, I almost want to advise artists who might be reading this post to consider springing for a booth of their own or at least a shared table. It’s nearly impossible to appreciate and differentiate your work when it’s crammed into one of those Detolf cases. And forget photographing it with the glare on that glass. [End unsolicited advice]


Speaking of Plastin, MAQET was all over DesignerCon. I already told you about Sergey Safonov’s upcoming Gooma in Boat. MAQET also appeared in Scott Tolleson‘s booth by way of the recently released trio of Bernies. It was especially cool to see Scott’s Plastin Nosellots alongside his self-produced plush Nosellots. To paraphrase October Toys’ George Gaspar: holding MAQETs is a real gamechanger. I hope lots of people got to pick them up at the convention (and you can also pick them up online here). MAQET’s DCON surprise came in the form of an edition of “sore-bet” mini-Heathrows by Frank Kozik. There were five flavorways (plus a short run of black “DesignerCon is Stupid”) of a smaller, cuter Heathrow. The new hedgehogs were available at the Toypinionated booth and directly from my messenger bag. I drove the unclaimed Heathrows back home with me, and at the time of this sentence, just two excellent green collectibles remain available.


If you stopped by Toypinionated to check out the mini-Heathrows, you would have seen new work from Vanessa Ramirez, Yosiell LorenzoTroy Stith and Gary Ham. If Toypinionated was a musical, Matt Hisey would be Daddy Warbucks and Vanessa, Yosiell Troy and Gary were the orphans getting a seven-hour reprieve from their otherwise hard-knock lives. Check out the photos to see their new customs, resins and colorways, and then visit their online shops to see what’s still available. And hit up Toypinionated to see the new Yosiell Lorenzo logo that The Sucklord called “smug”. Maybe Matt will notice a spike in his traffic and write us a new post.

Scott Wilkowski

Wisconsin-based sculptor Scott Wilkowski had some of the most talked about releases of DesignerCon with his Skin Deep resins. Scott re-cast toys by Frank Kozik, The Sucklord, Luke Chueh, Scott Tolleson, October Toys and Buff Monster; then subtracted from the model until he achieved the skeletal structure. The results look like fossils: fabulous, wonderful toy art fossils. If you weren’t able to pick up a skeletal Labbit, Sucklord, Possessed, Otis and Otto, Gwin or Buff, you can try to get on the list for when Skin Deep travels down to Lulubell Toy Bodega on December 9th and then up to Screaming Sky Gallery on February 23rd (2012).

Click through for more pictures (and just a few words) of various DesignerCon delights.

Cherry Vinyl

In the world of Cherry Vinyl, grenades are shaped like bunny rabbits and French cats have see-through skin.

Scott Tolleson

Scott Tolleson released new Nosellots plushes and revealed Bernie Cotton’s Plastin doppelgangers.

Cavey / A Little Stranger

Holly Stanway crossed the pond with a complete Cavey museum and a special SpankyStokes Cavey collaboration. Though selling out the exclusive Cavey was no doubt a thrill, I have to think that her most exciting moment of DesignerCon was being drawn by Gary Baseman!

Loyal Subjects

Speaking of Gary Baseman, The Loyal Subjects offered an array of vinyls, inflatables and other merch by Gary Baseman, Joe Ledbetter and Buff Monster. All three artists also stopped by for signings.

Paul Kaiju, Monstrehero and Uh Oh Toys

By the time I made it over to this resin trio, Paul Kaiju and Paul’s kaiju were long gone. Sean of Monstrehero and Aaron of Uh Oh Toys presided over a number of colorful resin creatures. Check their online shops for any remainders.


Super7‘s DCON booth featured new colorways and familiar toys. The highlight for Monster Family fans was a red/green Rose Vampire and a signing with RV-creator Josh Herbolsheimer.


I kept missing FrankenFactory founder, Shea Brittain, and her website is under construction. So while I can’t tell you why Smit is so intent on escaping San Francisco, I can tell you that I’m intrigued. She also makes a resin figure called Wolf Girl.

Sawdust Bear

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that Shing Yin Khor makes somewhat masochistic monsters and comics. Now it can be told that 1) she is developing an infographic on how to give the world’s most excellent hugs and 2) she will be your Con bartender.

The Rusted Nail Gallery

The Rusted Nail Gallery showed customs and vinyls by Arizona artists Rusted Halo, Kill! and Luke Harris. Rusted Halo’s new Dunny bust decried the end of the designer toy platform, while simultaneously showing love for resin with their “Resin Sux” packs.


Evilos is Chris Avalos, and he customizes Disney’s Vinylmation figures. You’d think Vinylmation alone would be grounds for dismissal from my blog, so customizing the Disney platform should mean I’d basically blacklist his IP address, right? Wrong! I got a chance to chat with Chris and really take a look at the work. It’s super clean, the Tron figures light up and this type of work looks good in multiples. Plus, he’s totally into it, which is a cool thing to see in these dark and jaded days.


Steve Talkowski pulled a flash sideways by re-engineering his signature Sketchbot character as a super-deformed resin. Pretty in Plastic did the casting, and the translucent robots looked terrific.


I kept eyeing the green vinyl Shikito as I rounded the corner by the Dragatomi booth. Joanne and Ray had a couple cases of customs, and even though I surprised you with my “refreshing” take on Evilos’ Vinylmation, I’m going to return to form by saying that the best thing I have to remark upon is that Joanne, Ray and my man Jay222 looked sharp in those track suits. Love you guys.


If SpankyStokes and Dragatomi were having a “who has the most customized toys in their detolfs” contest, Spanky would have won. Spanky drew a large crowd and gave away a lot of stuff. I barely got to see him, but whenever the DesignerCon announcer or The Sucklord weren’t hogging the convention center audio, I felt like I was getting a bear hug from the disembodied voice of SpankyStokes.

The Suckathon

Which brings us to The Suckathon. And yes, I’m putting the K back in. (I stole it from Monster Olor.) The Sucklord is one of our generation’s most distinctive orators, and the folks at DKE and Toy Break gave him a desk, a microphone and a couch for the duration of DesignerCon. For five straight hours, The Sucklord interviewed toy scene luminaries in an attempt to get to the gist of this movement. It starts off slow, but if you watch for a while, you’ll adjust to the pace and be rewarded. The best thing for folks tuning into the broadcast from afar is the ability to put names to faces. Maybe you didn’t know that Paul Kaiju wears a signature hat. Or that Super Cooper is the most awesome 12 year-old you’ve ever met. Or that carrots are almost the new yetis. I’m 2/3 of the way through watching the USTREAM, and it’s refreshing to see some candor. How will Baseman react to being called a douchebag? Is it true that KAWS is bootlegging Sucklord? Am I as awkward on camera as you’re imagining? The only way to find out is by watching all five hours of The Suckathon. My South African Canadian friend, Moody Doom, briefly waxes philosophical about the importance of The Suckathon here. Read it and watch Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

See you in 2012! Bonus pics below.