Concerning Complex’s 50 Best Designer Toys List

50 Best Designer Toys list by Gino Joukar

The second I saw Complex’s 50 Best Designer Toys List, I inhaled and braced for backlash. The complaints came swiftly: Artists who got left out. Toys that didn’t deserve to be there. While I, too, could point out a few numbers where I raised an eyebrow and mouthed the word “really?”, I think this is a GOOD, solid list. In fact, I agree with the merits of the majority of the toys that made the list. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. This list was made by Gino Joukar, collector of toy art and proprietor of Toy Art Gallery in LA. By his own admission, Joukar has only been collecting toy art for the past couple years. In that short time, however, he has managed to amass a jealousy-inducing collection of pieces from what I consider “the Golden Age of art toys” or, alternatively, the early-mid-2000s STRANGEco era. As this is, after all, a personal list vs. a list compiled by committee, Joukar’s 50 Greatest Designer Toys skew heavily toward STRANGEco. This leaves a noticeable absence of the Hong Kong artists who most people agree are responsible for “founding” designer toys. And while Joukar duly points out the gateway role of platform toys like Kidrobot’s Dunny and Toy2R’s Qees, there is a gap where some collectors may think custom toys are missing. For you folks, please see the next number.
  2. If your disappointment with this list compels you to lodge a complaint, by all means, make your own list! I think we can all agree that a dozen 50 “Greatest Designer Toys” lists would provide a more well-rounded picture of the genre. I kind of dig Joukar’s little personal asides in the descriptions. They provide context for why he chose what he did. I’d love to read some by other people too.
  3. Making a “Greatest” list is no small task, and I don’t think I could do it, actually. In 2009, I attempted The Top Ten Art Toys of 2009 Under $50, and in retrospect, I don’t even agree with my own list! While I’m sure you could identify a handful of toys in your collection that you will love always and forever, there is probably at least one among them for which the love affair will fade. My own taste in toy art has changed exponentially since I began writing about it in 2008.
  4. Please permit me a digression (in the interest of making a point). Several years ago, I embarked on the utterly OCD task of chronicling and cataloging the artwork of Jon Burgerman. In the summer of 2009, with the help of the omni-talented The Neon Hive, I relaunched Doodlesplatter as a proper blog, and I posted like a maniac. The Doodlesplatter artkive includes hundreds of posts spanning 10 years of Burgerman’s work. Now consider these statistics: In 2010, I posted 169 times: That’s basically every 2 days! In 2011 so far, I’ve only posted 26 times: That’s basically every 2 weeks. What’s my point? Our taste in art, toys and objects is always in flux. Any “Greatest” list should probably be viewed as a snapshot of the time rather than a timeless authority on the topic.
  5. To reiterate, I applaud the majority of the toy art chosen by Joukar for his list. If I had to voice a complaint, it wouldn’t be about the content, but rather with the presentation. 1) Nowhere was it specified that the list was in chronological order, yet a lot of people were upset by the piece that wound up at #1. Complex should have made a point of either putting the toys in order or stating boldly that they were randomized for the website. 2) The pictures are terrible. I’ve seen better photos of these figures in a Google Images search. Someone should have spent more time on this. 3) This list is a great example of why editors are important. In addition to the typographical errors spotted by people in the comments (Coarse Toys = Mark and Sven, not Mark and Mike; Mark Ryden, not Mark Nagata, created YHWH), Yoskay Yamamoto’s Koibito is misspelled. These would have been very easy to fix and made for a more credible list.

In conclusion:

Dear Complex: I see that you have let Coca-Cola re-brand your website with their advertising on your top and side banners as well as entire background. That alone should be worth enough to hire a copyeditor or proofreader for your feature stories. Lucky for you: I am affordable and looking for work! Contact me!

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