Jun 10, 2009

TDJ020 - Green Mikazukin Vinyl (by guest reviewer Gavin Rehfeldt)

Hi! I am so happy to be joining Sam as a guest-blogger for ToydeJour. I have a great nostalgia for the toys of my childhood as well as the childhood’s of people much older than I (and sometimes even much younger. Jimmy Neutron’s King Goobot figure I’m looking at you). My focus with collecting toys, though, has been the current mergence of commercial and fine art. I’m interested in the recent spate of artists and designer making vinyl figures as well as other traditional plastics. Right this instant I am most fascinated by Japanese vinyl, available only as a medium of toy production in Japan; theirs is a long held secret-formula they don’t want leaking out. Oh, and, yeah, I like Hello Kitty and always have, sure…

If you are unfamiliar with Itokin Park he is one of the most admired toy producers of the moment. The latest addition to my Itokin Park collection is the Green Mikazukin figure. The Mikazukin, sometimes referred to as Moonboy because of that wacky moon-shaped head, is one of Itokin Park’s most popular molds. Itokin Park, a one man outfit, has in the last 6 months released exclusive colorways of the Mika to various designer toy retailers around the world. This edition hails from Kawaii UK in merry ol’ England. Let me give you a little back story on Itokin Park first.

Itokin Park is the working title for artist Kazuhiko Ito. He is a native of Yokohama, Japan and has found a large dedicated following for his work in resin and Japanese vinyl. For many years now Japanese toy enthusiasts have admired his characters, design, and quality of work. His soft vinyl pieces have only recently started to get noticed here in the states but the US fanbase is building fast. Many of his molds were created in collaboration with Oneup, a noted vinyl toy producer and retailer, but he has in recent months moved away from working with them. His pieces have commanded extraordinarily high prices due to their short production runs and the high quality of the vinyl he uses.

Many of the pieces he has made are constructed in his home, and hand painted using a mask system. Kazu has completed several runs on large vinyl toys (most notably his popular Himalan figure styled after a Yeti or some such “Himalayan” creature) but is not looking toward mini figures. Mini figures are far more finicky to pain than larger vinyl pieces and his paints are definitely a large appeal of his work. We wouldn’t want to see his high level of quality compromised. I think we can look toward an exciting year for Itokin Park and his army of creative critters. I think the days of Itokin Park hand painting his packaging may be behind him, though. In fact the header cards for his recent Himalans were so popular he enlisted the same artist friend to make future header cards such as his new Lucha Bear.

Abandoned hospital provided by Edgewater Hospital 5700 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

The Lucha Bear is great but I’m more an admirer of his Mikazukin mold. The Green Mikazukin is a beautiful toy in its simplicity. It stands appearing almost as a line drawing with very little detail save for the familiar wide-eyes and charmingly parted hair. The small silver moon necklace mirrors the Swiss-cheese hole in the head that makes such a bold statement. As far as I can tell Itokin Park does not base his vinyl figures on previous graphic work but his silhouette implies a great mind for design and a direct Kewpie doll deconstruction.

The bold green calls to mind his limited-run Kaleyard Himalan released mid-2008. The green is a bold green much more bold in person than in photograph. Kazu-san has an envious sense of color apparent through all of his pieces. He doesn’t shy away from unusual color combinations and his palette is always radiant. That is, when he isn’t having fun experimenting with clear vinyls and glitter embedded translucent vinyls. Recently he made an inspiring translucent clear Mikazukin that he then filled with smaller resin Mika’s in a rainbow of colors. It is worth noting that this line of Mikazukins this figure is included in was colored by a Oneup mastermind since their relationship and collaboration has ended definitively. Still the green is very much the shade of Kazu’s Kaleyard colored toys.

This last picture shows the Mikazukin in its natural habitit; my coffee table.

Mikazukin has a delightful soft vinyl texture one expects it to giggle gently with applied pressure. The vinyl isn’t indestructible so one best take care to avoid direct sunlight and keep it away from friends who tend to like to throw things around your home. As I mentioned Mika comes in a variety of colors and more are on their way. The green Mika can be purchased at this link. If you can’t find the color you want I suggest scouring ebay (and Yahoo Japan Auctions, even) to find whatever piece best suits your taste. Welcome to the wild world of Itokin Park! I look forward to another strong year of releases from Kazu as well as his collaborations with Kuso Vinyl.

Find Green Mikazukin for sale here and here.

Liz: That is the cutest can opener I have ever seen.

Plastic/Material – 5/5
Poseability – 4/5
Packaging – 3/5 (just a basic header card and bag)
Design – 4/5
Playability – 3/5
Price (value) – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

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