10th March, 2006

Character illustration/designer toys

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!


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