Big Game in Small Pieces

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Have you ever wanted to nurture your child’s inner poacher or felt that a taxidermy animal head might be just the trick to remind you of your taxes? Japanese toy company, Takara Tomy A.R.T.S, appeals to the armchair hunter with its latest collector item, Hunting Trophy. Hunting Trophy is a series of miniature, mounted animal heads complete with horns that require snap-on assembly. Each trophy also comes with a tiny, gold sticker plaque bearing the species of your prize-packaged beast.

The refrigerator replaces the den as a showcase for the magnetically equipped creatures enabling you to display your entire plastic bestiary. Hunting Trophy continues its line with the safari-themed series, Hunting Trophy II. For the design conscious, Takara TOMY A.R.T.S. also offers neon-colored and gold gilded mounts with its Mono Color Trophy collection.

The Takara TOMY A.R.T.S. Hunting Trophy collection currently retails for about 300 yen and is sadly not available outside of Japan. Personal buying service, White Rabbit Express however specializes in shipping Japanese products virtually everywhere.

As a side note, a search for toy hunting trophies turned up a video of robotic taxidermy! I think Takara TOMY has been one-upped!


Three Ladies Beside the Sea

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Time Out New York Kids‘ lyrical review of Three Ladies Beside the Sea by Edward Gorey and his emblazoned cohort, Rhoda Levine.

Written by corvusblue

August 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

International Tokyo Toy Show 2010

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The International Tokyo Toy Show conjures up images of Asmovian defying robot, monsters (usually of the aquatic species), tooth-decayingly cute creatures and an array of insects. At least, that’s what I envisioned before braving the labyrinth train route to Tokyo Big Sight where this year’s International Tokyo Toy Show was held (July 15-18, 2010).  The show did offer its fair share of creepy crawly beetle-mania with such companies as Megahouse; the proveyors of edible, gummy insects and Hexbug; creators of nanotech bugs with realistic pinching action.

Pullip Dolls from Groove, Inc.

Lucha Libre Masks-Groove, Inc.

Although there were a few companies that caught my attention, the show sadly lacked the pop culture cornucopia that I was hoping for. The show was mainly dominated by such toy giants as Bandai and Lego. There was also steady stream of bags amongst the swarms of people bearing the logo for Hot Toys. Hot Toys sells fully articulated and extremely detailed action figures of everything from current icons such as Iron Man and Predator to generic and inexplicably nude male figures labeled by ethniticity. The figure labeled “African American Male” was easily modeled after Obama (complete with a plastic hardpack and politician death stare).

JewelPet Cycle

Duck Commanders

I did find however find a booth that stood out from the towering giants. The company is called Groove, Inc. Groove, Inc. has assimilated the defunct Jun Planning which was known for its wide-eyed collection of Pullip Dolls. Continuing the line of Pullip Dolls and with apparent knack for design sensible trends, Groove, Inc. displayed its latest line of Steampunk inspired dolls accented by the accessory craze of Alice in Wonderland.

Hello Kitty Harem

Although, the toys at the Tokyo Toy Show were more Toys ‘r Us than Kid Robot, I was grateful that Japan hadn’t given up on robots and bugs afterall.


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Artist Konatsu brushes upon both the past and present of Japanese art. Creatures rendered in marshmallowly forms prance around in folkloric landscapes of spidery trees and peep outside of thatched houses.  Each print is brought to life against a backdrop of scroll-esque delicacy.

I discovered Konatsu’s work at a mind-spinning store in Shinjuku called Pop Space (be forewarned-it’s not the easiest site to navigate). I happily picked up several postcards of her art from amongst a twirling rack of design cacophony. Pop Space also has a large scale mural done by Konatsu which depicts dinosaur disguised creatures that seemed to be plucked from prehistoric times and curiously lost in an Edo period of cuteness.

Written by corvusblue

July 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

The Secret Life of Illustrator Rebecca Dautremer

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The art of French illustrator Rebecca Dautremer is like stepping through paper windows into miniature, rouge accented worlds of wonder. Dautremer has a legacy as an illustrator with a soft spot for fairytales touched by a sense of humor.  She has worked on such children’s book titles as The Secret Lives of Princesses and collaborated with her husband, author Taï-Marc Le Thanh, on an adaptation of the notorious child-napping ogress of Slavic-lore, Babayaga. Dautremer has recently brought her design talents and also her love of folklore to life in the animated salute to storytelling entitled Kerity: La Maison des Contes (the English title is Eleanor’s Secret). Kerity, directed by Dominique Monféry, is about a young boy named Nathaniel who inherits his aunt’s library and the real life stories contained within the books. The caveat to this imaginative inheritance is Nathaniel’s illiteracy which is relentlessly mocked by his bratty sister and the impending collapse of his aunt’s dilapidated house. Despite Rebecca Dautremer’s renown, I sadly found very little mention of her in the U.S. aside from the incongruously English dubbed version of Kerity (the sister sounds like a digitized Brit and the parents seemed stocked with awkward dialogue).  Thank you Noela for your introduction!

Design Festa

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Imagine a world where Japan’s artistic eccentricities of the past, the future and the surreally subversive come together for a visual tea party. Welcome to Design Festa! This past weekend, I attended Design Festa’s 31st event (its inception was held in 1994).  Upon entering the illuminati tower that is Tokyo Big Sight (back again!), I was immediately greeted by three floors of sprawling artist booths creatively customized to represent everything from an anime metropolis cutout to live miniature Kabuki theatre.

As I walked down each elaborately adorned aisle, I noticed the artistic touches that made this event uniquely and distinctly Japanese despite the event’s international umbrella.  I saw prints depicting lonely eyed Japanese schoolgirls strumming guitars blissfully unaware of the Hokusai tsunami behind them. A few booths away, I noticed a cluster of people illuminated by something that resembled a fluorescently lit medicine cabinet. A few of the viewers held tiny vials in their hand. A closer inspection revealed that the specimens in the vials were the color-injected bones of fossilized fish. As I continued to walk through the masses of Victorian maid outfits and furry mascots, I found a booth that was eerily unattended. It showcased tiny, abandoned buildings which I suspected were the flea-circus equivalent of a haunted house. As I declined the offer to receive a cosmetic scab and stitches, I stumbled upon a runway of cherubic Japanese children doing a synchronized dance followed by a Blade Runner inspired fashion show.

Design Festa is the rabbit hole of emergent Japanese artists who push each medium be it wooden robots or water-colored witches. Pick your pop culture poison. The next Design Festa is scheduled for November 2010. This time, I think I’ll see what happens when we step onto the other side of the looking glass booth.
*Some of the photos below link to websites. So clicky-away!

Illustrator Tama

Whale Sketch

John Hathaway


Artist Savoya

Kamaty Moon


Photos: Optivion & Meghan

Periwinkle Smith and the Faraway Star

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The inventive Ms. Periwinkle Smith has returned in her second and latest adventure, Periwinkle Smith and the Faraway Star by John and Wendy.  Still twirling and whirling in her trademark tutu,  the punky and pirouetting Ms. Periwinkle sets her sights on a golden telescope. Through her looking glass, Periwinkle spies birds, fish and even villainous bathtub pirates yet it’s a lonely star in the sky that captures Periwinkle’s eye and inevitably, her heart. Determined to befriend the lonely star, Periwinkle dreams up different ways to send her message “up, up, up”. After a few inspired efforts, Periwinkle and her trusty tabby find an enlightened form of delivery that brings the faraway star close to home.

Periwinkle Smith is a strong and spirited girl distinguished by her signature bow, blue hair and paint-splattered tutu. Ms. Smith is equal parts childhood curiosity and rock n’ roll DIY-namics. John and Wendy have created a diminutively cute character with a large presence that continues to demonstrate infectious enthusiasm and ingenuity. Always armed with a solution up her stripey sleeve, Ms. Smith proves that no adventure or dream is too big. I’m convinced that her adventures have only just begun. So, where to next, Periwinkle?