This is the celebrated journal of Mr. Simon Collison A.K.A Colly

Character illustration/designer toys

10th March 2006

Aside from web stuff and general waffle, I’m going to post a lot more about another of my passions from now on - namely character illustration and designer toys. I’ve long been a fan of the world’s greatest character designers, which probably stems from a childhood love of Marvel and Hanna Barbera creations.

These days, through my collaborations with renowned illustrators such as Burgerman and Black Convoy, I’m beginning to accrue quite a large collection of designer toys, books and illustration/character-related useless items - and I want more!

Pete Fowler: Monsterism Island

So, for the uninitiated, here’s my rough guide to all things cool in the character illustration world.

Getting started

To get a handle on all of this “toys for big boys” stuff, have a trawl through the colourfully seductive pages of Vinyl Abuse, Pictoplasma, Computer Arts, Jeremyville and Hello Duudle. You’ll see many of the same names popping up regularly, and the output of some of these guys and gals is very prolific. If you don’t fall under the spell of the wonderful design showcased on these sites, then you are either dead, or in jail.. or probably old enough to know better.

Toys, t-shirts and stuff

If it’s toys you want, without question Kid Robot is number one. The shop is chock-full of all the best character toys available at any time, and is great just for browsing through (check the Gorillaz toys). For t-shirts designed by some of the best character illustrators in the world, visit Threadless, Split The Atom and Thunder Chunky. For my favourite character book, act fast and grab a copy of the sublime Hello Duudle by Burgerman and Ehlers, before it sells out.

Hello Duudle 2

Street art and stickers

The toys, the illustration, the general anarchy of it all goes hand in hand with graffiti and stickering things that don’t belong to you. New York ruffians the Wooster Collective update their blog every 2 seconds with the latest street art as sent in by their army of fans. For stickers and other things to litter-up your city/bedroom/laptop, check out Urban Wallpaper and Stickernation. Alternatively, do lots of web work for lots of UK illustrators and get paid not in money, but in stickers, like I do.

Character superstars

Think Meyer and Zeldman are famous? Forget it. Check out this lot for real fan worship. These character illustrators get mobbed if they so much as think of visiting Japan. My faves have to be Tado, Mondo Trendy, Peskimo, Kevin Cornell’s Bearskin Rug and The Boy Fitz Hammond.


King of the world, and arguably someone you may actually have heard of is the amazing Pete Fowler (he of Monsterism - image at top of article). Originally making his name with the incredible Super Furry Animals cover artwork, Fowler now has a growing empire of ridiculously great toys, plus four delicious TV adverts for Kia cars under his belt.

Don’t forget the big 10-4

Finally, a word for the illustrious team over at Black Convoy, for whom I do a bit of web mecanic work for from time to time. Each of these guys is a major illustration talent, especially my good friend Mr. Burgerman. See also Richard May, McFaul, Miles Donovan, Andy Potts, Neasden Control Centre, Austin Cowdall, Lee Ford, Mark Taplin, Adrian Johnson, Gary Neill, Tim Marrs and Andrew Rae.

What have I missed?

I’m sure this post has only scratched the surface of this subject, so I’d be interested to know of any more useful links that you lot might know of. If you are a cool illustrator, drop a link and let us all know what you do. Even better, if you have any spare toys, feel free to send them to me forthwith!


# Jeff Smith responded on 10th March 2006 with...

I can’t believe I’ve never run across Kid Robot before, I can already hear my credit card crying for mercy.

I’m a huge fan of collectables myself, having a fairly sizeable collection of Macfarlane figurines, the most recent acquisition being the KISS Alive set.

# Scott responded on 10th March 2006 with...

I’ve never fully understood popular character illustration.  On the one hand, much of it looks like it would fall under the “pretty good” category of a 9 year old’s art porfolio, but on the other it has an undeniable cool factor.

# Michael G responded on 10th March 2006 with...

I shall have to stop by here more often if I’m going to see more posts like this.
I would recommend grabbing the latest CA Projects Mag in which Mr. Burgerman spills the beans on character design.

# Jason Landry responded on 10th March 2006 with...

Kid Robot is the best I’ve seen (NY and SF). In Vancouver, the best option I’ve found is Headquarter. Also, another Magazine to keep an eye on is Giant Robot.

# David JAckson responded on 12th March 2006 with...

I’ve just read the diatribe that is your take on CSS sites.  I would have commented there, but you’ve prevented that from happening.  You really are talking crap.  It IS an old boys network, without a doubt.

Its a big designer gravy train, build a site, get it listed on your friends css site, write a book, plug it, blog it, get your blog listed on your friends site, rinse and repeat.  If this wasn’t the case then there would be a hell of a lot more diversity in these sites.

# Simon Collison responded on 12th March 2006 with...

David JAckson: Thanks for your views. Not remotely bothered about your accusations. Jealousy is a very ugly characteristic, but you wear it well.

Back on topic anyone?

# David Jackson responded on 12th March 2006 with...

Typical response.  If someone doesn’t like your opinion you just accuse them of being jealous.  No surprises there…

I’m not a designer, I don’t build websites, my job is nothing to do with the internet.  I just know how to spot an old boys club when it is right in front of me.  And your defensive stance just proves my point.

# Simon Collison responded on 12th March 2006 with...

David Jackson: How did you expect me to respond - with a hug? You insulted and falsely accused me, so I don’t owe you anything.

And how was I defensive? I said I wasn’t bothered. Anyway, I have better things to do. Don’t you?

# David responded on 12th March 2006 with...

If you had better things to do you wouldn’t be responding at all.  I’m just trying to point out that you can’t convince all of your readers in the way that you think you can.

# paul haine responded on 12th March 2006 with...

“Its a big designer gravy train, build a site, get it listed on your friends css site, write a book, plug it, blog it, get your blog listed on your friends site, rinse and repeat.”

You make it sound so easy, I’m still stuck on the ‘get it listed on your friends css site’ stage and I built my site about two years ago. And where’s my book deal, eh?

Returning to the topic at hand, I’m a sucker for designer t-shirts, particularly the ones at Threadless. I particularly like the ones that are a little geeky but a little stylish nonetheless, like Ctrl + Z. I’ve been holding off buying any for months though as it’s been so bloody cold…

# Ben Ward responded on 12th March 2006 with...

“Its a big designer gravy train, build a site, get it listed on your friends css”

That’s a dirty fat lie. My site sucks the proverbial donkey and Colly still links to me. Further, I’m masquerading under the official top-secret Brit Pack heading and I’m not old at all.

Oh, on topic then…

I love Pete Fowler’s work. Really adore it. I had one of my friends produce a fimo copy of the creature from SFA’s Guerilla album for Christmas last year. Wonderfully bizarre.

Unfortunately, apart from some exposure to Burgerman through your blog, I’m a total novice when it comes to everything outside the sphere of SFA covers. I did get given a nice book called ‘Street Logos’ for Christmas though, which is full of fabulous street art.

Like Paul, I also love Threadless. I splashed out rather too much on their shirts before Christmas (it was a big contributor to Ben’s Winter Financial Crisis 2005/06 - an event I’m seeking sponsorship for next year). I had to fight hard to resist those badges you linked to, they were great.

Some day soon, I shall possess a job and it’ll all be good.

# paul haine responded on 12th March 2006 with...

“Some day soon, I shall possess a job and itĂll all be good.”

Ah, the boundless optimism of youth. Don’t worry, my friend, you’ll find it all burnt out of you by rent, council taxes and utility bills by, ooh, age 24 I reckon.

# Ben Ward responded on 12th March 2006 with...

I mentioned street art in my previous comment and within hours stumbled across something rather wonderful on Flickr: Thom Yorke.

# Simon Collison responded on 12th March 2006 with...

David: No, to be honest, I’ve nothing better to do than to tell you to Fuck off and bother somebody else who actually cares.

I do not give a fuck about those who hate this blog or anything I say, but I do care about those that do enjoy visiting.

As for responding to your comments. Well, I’m the kind of person who likes people - I appreciate other people and enjoy listening to their views. You contradicted yourself earlier by moaning about me not appreciating your views, by not appreciating mine.

So, I’m responding to you because I do love the opportunity to vent some anger. Yes, you angered me. Result. Well done. Now fuck off and don’t come round here no more.

# Simon Collison responded on 12th March 2006 with...

Ben: Mate, you are the classic example of someone who just deserves a link, and proves David so very wrong. I don’t know you (yes, we did meet for five minutes once), and you haven’t done anything world-shattering, you just fit my “good people” mould, and I will always link to you, no matter if you never write a book, or get around to building a site again. Readers, note that Ben’s site fell down a black hole and he’s to busy to build afresh right now…

# Simon Collison responded on 12th March 2006 with...

David: Anyway, I was outside of the whole thing - the other “old boys” had been at it for years, yet they somehow let me in, years after the old guard had developed. So, where does that leave your argument?

Regular readers: He-he, I’m pissed. Been in the pub for a while, so I was looking forward to laying into David. Hope you don’t mind. And remember, I know that you can think for yourselves, and you know I don’t expect you to agree with me.

Love and toast…

# G‡ran responded on 12th March 2006 with...


Thank you for all the inspiration gathered in one post. Somehow I had missed Hello Duudle.

# Photik responded on 16th March 2006 with...

Like Kipling, your page is a treasure. Many thanks

# Christoffer E. responded on 19th March 2006 with...

Great summery Colly, but you’ve got the stickernation adress wrong! It’s supposed to be dot com you silly ^^

# Simon Collison responded on 19th March 2006 with...

Christoffer E. Erm, no I didn’t. It seems the site is down (it was looking a bit transitional when I wrote the article). Oh well…

# Christoffer E. responded on 20th March 2006 with...

Haha, oh well, I guess that makes your article perfect then. Again: Well done! and thanks ^^

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