Sunday, October 28, 2012

Project: Outcomes

I have been asked various questions in regards to my project outcomes, so I thought I would compile the frequently asked questions:

What are the specified project outcomes?

To keep an updated blog with my progress, produce new work and have an exhibition upon my return to Adelaide.

What do you hope to achieve from your time in Japan?

I just hope to meet new people, improve my skills and focus on producing new works.

How many ‘new works’ will you create?

At minimum, I will produce 1 new sculpt completed and ready for production. Ideally, I would like to have a series ready for production.

Would the new work include Waniphant?

I would like to work on a new Waniphant sculpt but my main goal is to create new concepts while in Japan. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he does pop up though.

Will you participate in any Japanese events?

While in Japan, there will be two main toy events, ‘Super Festival’ and ‘Wonder Festival’. I currently don’t have any organised plans but I would like to have a display at these events.

When you come back to Australia, what will you do?

Beyond the exhibition, I currently don’t have any set plans; you'll have to wait and see.

What is the best part about being awarded the grant?

It solidifies what I do as ‘real’.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quick Slice: Mr. Ton

Thumbnail sketch no larger than 25mm, now known as Mr.Ton.

Last night I was playing around in my sketch book and came up with a little character. It is rare that I jump up and develop a character further instantly, normally I leave it, let it simmer and come back with a fresh view. I guess the sketch really spoke to me as I was keen to work on him right away!

Wanting to keep all the line work logical, I jumped into SolidWorks to CAD him up. Originally I was intending to create just the 2D linework for Illustrator but I thought I would have a bit of fun with extruding the body. That is when he truly came to life.

There are some little tweaks I would like to do before finalising but I hope to get a 3D print or lasercut version made soon. As I am leaving in 3 weeks, I may have to leave the development till I come back from Japan.

His name is Skele but it's Mr. Ton to you! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Update: Unboxed exhibition

Continuing on from my WIP post, I have taken some images to fully reveal of my custom Munny for the Unboxed exhibition. Friday afternoon I went back to Espionage Gallery to take some images and a video to show you all online. The video doesn't do the show justice, if you are in Adelaide, go check it out.
 Dinosaur Man
'Dinosaur man' is the local dinosaur toy store owner, every weekend you can see him in his character dinosaur outfit greeting customers that come to his store.

Above is the main materials I currently use. What isn't in the photo is all the sandpaper and utensils I use. Lots of sanding and hacking in every stage of my builds. I am no expert and I am continuously learning but the best advice I can give is to experiment and find what best works for you.

Sorry for the wobbly camera, this is recorded from my iPhone. I am currently looking into a good camera to buy while in Japan so I can take good photos and videos.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Project: Artistic Statement

Every Saturday I will be posting a blog post related to the ‘Sofubi mentorship’ project. I don’t know what to call them! Something catchy will come to mind but if you have an idea, please post it in the comments section.

Part of the grant application, I had to submit an artistic statement. As I studied design, I have never thought of myself as an artist. Yet, through development of my proposal, I have realised that I am an ‘artist through design’; my vision is art, my process is design.
Snippet of my artistic statement:
As an artist and designer, the past, present and future play a role in my work. My work pays homage to my inspirations whilst blending my vision of the future.

My background is Industrial Design and I use my knowledge of materials and processes to extend my artistic possibilities. To me, design is objective art. Although aesthetics is vital, the work must follow a need or purpose. Art toys can blur these restrictions. Design thinking and processes are involved but there is no purpose or need, resulting in completely subjective work. Art toys appeal to me because they continuously push these boundaries.

I am drawn to Japanese toy design as it’s not about the finalised character; it has a much wider background that encompasses Japanese techniques, craftsmanship and styles. Where quality of the sculpting, surface finish and colour variations are a significant part of the art form.


People often ask me what I am influenced by, I have trouble answering this question. I rather be influenced by anything and everything and not lock myself in. If I had to say when it all started, my main inspiration would be Tokusatsu; Japanese science fiction, fantasy or horror.

I was first introduced to Japanese culture through Kaiju films when I was 12, I used to think “why would anyone create something so outlandish?” The fact that it existed, and someone had thought it up intrigued me and pulled me in deep.    

A year later, I came across Japanese animation and was taken in by the quality of the animation and vivid stories. It opened a gateway to another viewpoint and my interest for Japan increased. Being inspired by these works, I wanted to dig deeper and find out what they were inspired by: Japanese horror stories, samurai, Shintoism, Buddhism, yokai, kaiju, politics, love, passion. As a young teenager, the mix of Japanese pop culture and tradition had a very strong impact on my outlook on life.

Many years later, I would discover kaiju again through toys. Once again, I was thinking “why would someone make this”, everything came full circle in many ways.

Before I get into a long yarn, I will leave my story there for tonight. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Quick Slice: What is Sofubi?

What is Sofubi?

Sofubi is 'wasei-eigo' for 'soft vinyl'
Soft Vinyl --> Softu Binyl --> Sofubi 

 Jargon usage:
Soft vinyl is a form plastic called PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) but what mainly separates sofubi from other vinyl art toys on the market is the production methods of Japan. In ways, the popularity of sofubi has less to do with the design and more to do with the soft vinyl workshops. Even though the design needs to adhere to Japanese slush moulding techniques, 'sofubi' is not a genre or style.

I will leave this quick slice at that and tell you more about the sofubi workshops another time. If you are keen to dive in now, I would highly recommend checking out Toy Karma and Kaiju Korner!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Quick Slice: Dinosaur Man

Last night was the opening for the Unboxed, A Custom Vinyl Toy Exhibition held at Espionage Gallery locally in Adelaide. It was fantastic to catch up with friends and meet new ones. I had a great time chatting to people about art toys!

I was intending to take many photos and have a quick film for a blog post but the gallery was too busy all night, which was fantastic. I will be heading in later today to capture a video and take some photos of my piece from the show. For now, in 'quick slice' fashion, I will post one instagram picture I took on the night.

The instagram filters wash out the colours.

New blog feature: Quick Slice

One of the main reasons why my blog stayed dormant for many months was due to the fact I always felt the need to write long articles per post. I was still active on twitter, facebook and instagram but time went on by and I never came back to post on my blog. Part of my new push to have a stronger online presence, I want to keep a record of my journey in a single place; which will be my blog.

From now on, I will post small to medium articles that may even just include a single image, I will dub these posts 'quick slice'. I won't be flooding the blog with 'quick slice' posts, maximum one per day.

~Take a slice

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Exhibition: Unboxed, A Custom Vinyl Toy Exhibition.

A few months ago I got talking to Joshua Smith, owner of 'Espionage Gallery' here in Adelaide, about art toys and he mentioned he was planing to put together an art toy show. To me, this was very exciting news as we haven't had any exhibitions locally featuring just vinyl toys. Furthermore, I was excited over the fact more people were getting into developing toys as art.

Josh had started to develop his own platform design for the show, I have seen the prototype and it is rad. Sadly, it wasn't completed in time for this exhibition but it will be ready with improvements for the next exhibition. Another art toy show in the works? Fantastic!

So, for this first event, Josh decided to use the 7" Munny platform by Kid Robot. The good thing about the Munny is it already has acceptance by the general community. As I generally work with Kaiju, a niche within a niche, the Munny is a perfect platform to ease the Adelaide public into the art toy world.

The exhibition is titled 'Unboxed, A Custom Vinyl Toy Exhibition.' and features 41 of the best artists from Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Argentina that have modified, customised, painted and decorated 41 Blank Munny Vinyl Toys.

It was bound to happen eventually but this was my first time creating a custom Munny, the most customised toy platform in the world. I already owned a few Munnys but I haven't done more than poorly sketch on them.

Each exhibition piece I produce, I always attempt something new to push myself further. It is risky but it's for my personal enjoyment. This time, I really wanted to improve my sculpting skills in regards to blending, smoothing surfaces and keeping symmetry. I thought working with the Munny platform would be a perfect opportunity and I am happy with my results.

I will post a full reveal of my design tomorrow night. For now, here is some work in progress. I still wanted to focus on a monster, I did play around with a few Waniphant concepts but I kept coming back to the first idea that popped into my head of making a man in a suit.


At this stage, I didn't know if I was going to make a fat kid or an old man - I decided to go for the old man. I was playing with the idea that the man in the suit was the 'real monster' but I thought it was a bit too much, so I kept it fun. 

Here you can see that I filled in the cut on top of his head. I required a larger hole to work with so the hair is actually completely removable. I really enjoy this head, I would like to come back and make some old man 4" Munnys in the future. 

Using plasticine I quickly created a 3D sketch of my concept.

Here, you can see my almost complete tail and filled-in arm sockets. There were many more hours of sanding and smoothing required after this photo was taken.

The hacking of the 7" begins! 

To complete the internal detail required for the 4" head, I had to chop the 7" head in half and then resemble afterwards and completely smooth it off - like nothing ever happened.

Final image for the WIP shots for this post. Here you can see some pieces with primer drying in the sun ready for painting.

If you are in Adelaide on the 18th of October, please head down to Espionage Gallery at 6pm for the opening night. I'll be there talking toys with anyone willing.

Opening night: October 18th at 6:00pm
Till 27th of October.

Espionage Gallery
Suite 1, Level 2
93 Rundle Mall, Adelaide

More information:

Hope to see you there! 

Japanese Art Toys (Sofubi) Mentorship Project

Over the last 9 months, I have been busy organising a very ambitious project. In many ways, it has been in development for years. At the start of the year, I got an email mentioning upcoming grant opportunities that were available through Arts SA. One instantly caught my eye:

‘Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Japan Travel Fund’

“ The grant is open to independent artists based in South Australia who want to acquire or study traditional or contemporary Japanese artistic skills to develop their contemporary arts practice or to develop their projects through a Japanese connection. “

Through further investigation, it seemed I was already trying to achieve the specified outcomes on my own accord. I applied with my grant proposal: Japanese Art Toys (Sofubi) Mentorship Project - To travel to Japan and develop new sofubi works while being influenced and mentored by talented Japanese artists and craftsmen.

I enjoy continuously learning about the processes involved in art toy design but feel that without face to face interactions it is no longer possible to develop my work further. The grant allows me a unique opportunity by financially supporting my development through face to face communications.

I first started developing this project with the hope of being mentored by a few people I have previously worked with but through the excitement and support of my initial contacts, I have reached many more fantastic designers and it has turned into a project beyond my expectations. I am extremely grateful and humbled by the response.

After applying and waiting two months, I got a big letter with ‘Arts SA’ written on the envelope. I thought to myself - "This is the moment you have been waiting for, stay calm and open it with care. Read it slowly and carefully, don’t skim".........

"I am pleased to advise that, on the recommendation of Arts SA's peer assessment panel, I have approved your project"


The hardest part about applying for the grant was to completely organise the whole project as if I had already got the grant. It put extreme pressure on me and made me feel really anxious, so when I found out, I was totally blown away!! I was shaking from the excitement and the adrenaline kick stayed in my body for the whole day. I still get very excited talking about it!!

Through development of the project and compiling the grant application, I felt very honoured at the amount of support received from everyone involved. I would like to personally thank: Dan McLean, Tovi Vo, Mark Nagata, Kirby Kerr, Kiel Hummel, Gino Joukar and Nathan Jurevicius for your kind support letters and encouragement.

I would like to give a very big thank you to Teresa Chiba, to whom I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this project without, I am very humbled by all of your support. Teresa will be one of my mentors too, more information will be announced soon.

For now, I will not mention any other mentor names as I will announce people bit by bit over the coming month but a HUGE thanks to everyone that has agreed to be part of my project. I am thrilled to work with every single one of you.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, my brother Darren, my mate Jason and another shout out to Tovi for helping me in the last few days leading up to submitting the grant. Don’t know how you all put up with me but I love you all for it!

Besides developing and nurturing my skills, the project is aimed at promoting awareness in Australia of Sofubi, their creators and their relevance as an art form. The art toy scene is relatively unknown in Australia and I am not intending to change the art world over night but hope to give it a good push – successfully being awarded the grant is the first step.

Please follow me over the coming months for an interesting journey in the ups and downs of this project. My blog will be updated regularly every Saturday as part of the project.

Kind Regards,
Shane Haddy