Urban Vinyl: A newbies introduction to designer toy collecting

4467797eb86aa7a255fdf3f3ad035be9What is an Urban Vinyl?

An Urban Vinyl is a type of designer toy. They are made for adult collectors that crave art, but want it on a more “low brow” or “tactile” scale. There are many materials used in designer toy manufacturing such as resin, wood, latex, plastic, and metal. I will be focusing on vinyls. As they are the ones that appeal to my interests (although resin artist 2petalrose definitely has me in a love spiral with his pieces. I will be featuring his work in a separate article at a later date.) 

Urban Vinyl collectibles started from humble beginnings as the creative work of artist Michael Lau (who is generally credited with starting the movement in the 1990’s). It has a hip-hop, graffiti, art, and musical vibe rising from urban areas in Asia (Japan and Hong Kong) the U.S., and Europe. It’s got a definite pop culture flavor, features mostly limited runs, focuses on original and highly artistic design, and showcases artists in a manner that encourages touching and getting close to art in a whole new way.

Most pieces run between around $6-$50, which, for art, could be considered pretty reasonable. Of course, it can go well beyond that price range with custom designs, limited editions, and special commissions.

Designer toys aren’t made to be played with by children. These are adult art pieces that can be handled like a toy, but should primarily be handled gently to prevent wear or paint damage. An important distinction.

While there can sometimes be a lot of cross-over between toy and art, (I’m looking at you Funko) most will agree that vinyls tend to be primarily adult collected. They can be handled much like one handles an action figure or plastic toy, but these pieces can and should be treated like art, especially if it’s not your own personal collection you are viewing.

Even in your own personal collecting a general rule of collecting is to keep the pieces in as mint condition as possible. After all, collecting an entire collection of pieces takes dedication, time, money and effort.

Over the next few months I will be learning all about the different artists, styles, and types of Urban Vinyls out there. I’m a definite newbie so I will be taking my time and asking lots of questions.

It should be a ton of fun.

Sources section:


63 Vinyl Artists You Should Know