Reported by Imani Wj Wright
The world is full of masterful artistry and in recent years it has manifested itself in the form of toys. The 90’s saw a wave of kids starting to collect toys and keeping them in prime condition. Many of these toys became worth multiples of their original value. Toys like Hot Wheels, Beanie Babies, Star Wars figurines, and even vintage toys from the 30’s have found themselves worth upwards of even $15,000. This speaks to the influence these characters captured and not only that but they are nostalgic, invoking memories the toys now remind collectors of.
Josh Wang is a toy creator, having also been a toy collector for many years. He has collaborated with a multitude of artists and captured varying aesthetics within his work. He is a child of the 90’s and grew up on many iconic television shows that broke ground visually. Entries such as Dragonball, X-Men, Powerpuff Girls, Pokemon, Power Rangers, and several others inspired kids for generations. The toys that followed these iconic shows are a result of consumerism but ultimately had their own art. The child viewers went from simply seeing these character’s stories being told, to being able to tell their own through the physical toy. For many, when they find old toys there is a reluctant feeling to truly let them go because of what they stood for. These toys were symbols for imagination and creativity.
Wang saw the importance of creativity and after graduating from the University of Tokyo he started his designer toy brand, ALL-IN TOYS, in 2018.
Artists like KAWS have made a way in the industry for toy creators. The KAWS Companion has become a signature in popular culture as many musical artists, art connoisseurs, museums and other entities have displayed different versions of the character throughout the world. That recognizable mickey mouse deconstruction has permeated it’s way into collaboration with names such as Jordan Brand, Takashi Murakami, Bape, Comme Des Garcons, Dior, and even Sesame Street.
In terms of Wang’s art, one of his main staples is a chubby cheeked figure that captures different types of horror, often having horns. There are other, more obscure, elements like figurines inspired by spongebob, batman, and robin, but this is more rare. Many of the horror elements that are implored are more of an unsettling type of horror. The childish, chubby cheeked figure always has exaggerated pupils that stare blankly, his mouth always smirking. Many of these creations are released in limited quantities and go for about 8,800yen-300,000yen and on the aftermarket can reach up to 800,000yen depending on the rarity.
Although I recognized the creepy chubby cheeked boy as one of his main themes in terms of creation, Josh Wang also works with a lot of other artists to make digital art, apparel, and installations. These designs also have strong horror genre themes, making many of his creations look like classic horror films. His digital works remind me of chucky, scream, and goosebumps. They are very detailed and practical and they speak to the 90’s in a clear fashion.
Wang has collaborated with other toy brands and digital content creators such as Izumonster, Milkboy Toys, Punk Drunkers, DIEMOUSE, illsynapse, and Zollmen. Most of these brands have a colorful gory theme to them that really come to life when you look at them.
For some of the products and breakdowns, Wang has a video series called 潮玩JTV that has gained an underground following in the toy world. This show is available on Youtube and Bililbili.
Wang’s work is extensive and in such a short time has garnered an incredible following! To check out more of his work, visit Josh Wang @blackpearls_jp on Instagram and check out his Twitter: https://twitter.com/blackpearlsjp?s=21