masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Ouip, Derby Cat, Dunny or Qee?

Vinyl/designer toys are limited edition collectible toys usually with humanoid shapes that are most commonly produced in sizes 2.5~3″ or 6~8″. They often constitute customized variations of a given standard, with a sense of pseudo-individualism that would make Adorno proud. In many ways all forms of art rely on conventions, of course, but one could argue that as with manga, in the realm of vinyl art creation through imitation is the rule. It seems that more than fifty percent of all production is based on variations on two major icons: Dunny and Qee. Dunny was created by Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eaton, and produced by the American Kidrobot company from around 2004. Qee was created by the Hong Kong-based company Toy2R, which was founded by Raymond Choy in 1995. Although some websites have suggested that Dunny is for the West what Qee is for the East, thankfully due to eBay and other online sales, these days vinyl art knows precious few regional boundaries. One very successful collaboration, is the American Meomi company’s Qee version known as Derby Cat (see picture).

Another excellent designer toy – and one that unlike the vast majority actually comes with a comic book, i.e. a storyline – is the Astrolapin series by the London-based Mr Clement. A special, extra-limited (to 40) 5″-edition of the socially troubled, space-traveling astronaut bunny was announced well ahead of its exclusive sale at the 2010 Comic Con to make sure fans would rush there to pick one up.

Presumably inspired by the success of Qee overseas, and the success of the Japanese Devilrobots company’s To-fu Oyako characters in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in 2008 Korea’s Delitoys began to create a canvas of its own, the Ouip. The Ouip is strengthening its iconic presence across Korea through collaborations with various artists and businesses and they clearly position its product as a platform (which is where the “p” in Ouip comes from; the remainder being the French soccer fans’ response to “do you dislike Raymond Domenech?”). It is interesting that vinyl toys are now fast becoming a new popular canvas for artists to work on. Although Master Lee finds the lightbulb shape of the original Ouip seriously lacking in attractiveness, some artists have already turned some of its other, more humanoid “platforms” into some very cool characters indeed (picture taken at a gallery in central Seoul in May 2010). Of course Master Lee does not play with toys, and in fact usually treats his opponents like canvases…, but he would like to know who designed these cool Ouips and would certainly welcome feedback.

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2 Comments»

  the Success Ladder wrote @

Wonderful site and theme, would really like to see a bit more content though!
Great post all around, added your XML feed! Love this theme, too!

  masterlymasterlee wrote @

Dear Success Ladder,

Thank you so much for your response! We really appreciate your feedback.

The only thing preventing us from posting more on behalf of Master Lee is time… Since we began the site, our lives have changed enormously, and while we’re still working hard to make deadlines and attend conferences, the world of Korean pulp is expanding fast (the Korean Zombie being one of the UFC’s most popular new recruits, new Korean barbie dolls being pushed in Hong Kong, and Hongdae’s punk scene reinventing itself, to name but a few). I promise we’ll do our best to come back regularly and continue to share Master Lee’s thoughts on all these new pulpifications as best we can.

With best wishes, and on behalf of Master Lee,

R & R


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