What are the best designer toy materials in the toolkits of these 5 legends? Find out here!
Behind every cleverly-crafted designer toy, you have a whole bunch of tools, materials, and a lot of hard work! And though the finished products that line our shelves might look unified and EZ PZ, the truth is that there’s a universe of different materials and methods behind the madness!
Luckily, 5 OG Invaders and legendary toy artists in their own right were gracious enough to fill us in on their preferred tools of the trade. From sofubi to resin and painting to finishing, they go over it all!
With that, and in no particular order, we give huge thanks to Christopher Luke, Jon-Paul Kaiser, Candie Bolton, Kristy Kitsune, and Jessica Emmett for taking the time to chat with us yet again.
So whether you’re an aspiring toy artist or a curious collector, today we’ll go over the best designer toy materials and supplies, as chosen by 5 incredible toy artists.
Christopher Luke‘s skeletal persona has stolen the hearts of many for being adaptable and crisply modern! So let’s take a look at Christopher Luke’s 3 favourite materials.
1. Cutex Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover
Cutex Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover may seem strange to be one of a designer toy artist’s essential tools, but there’s good reason! Christopher says it is because “before priming an art toy for customisation, you should always strip the original artwork off. This stuff will take it off in seconds, no questions asked.”
2. System3 and pébéo acrylic paints
Any designer toy needs a splash of colour, and Christopher’s choices are System3 and pébéo acrylic paints because “if the paint doesn’t have a good amount of pigment, it will look washed out and need more layers to bring the colour up. It’s worth spending a few extra pennies on some better paint, not only to save a little more time, but to improve the overall quality of your work.”
3. Humbrol Acrylic Primer No. 1
Finally is the Humbrol Acrylic Primer No. 1 which is a spray primer. Primers are key for producing a better quality finish. Christopher says this specific primer is an essential because it “has the best coverage I’ve come across so far. It’s consistently great and that’s why I love it… Always take the time to prep your piece before you paint it because it will make a significant difference to the quality of your work!”
While you’re here, why not check out our interview with Christopher Luke?[Back to top]
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Jon-Paul Kaiser‘s distinctive style features a lot of tattoo-esque and intricately detailed designs, but what does he use to create these pieces?
1. Aves Apoxoe Sculpt
JPK’s first essential material is Aves Apoxoe Sculpt which is a two-part epoxy resin, enabling you to sculpt for around an hour before it hardens. This is a favourite of JPK’s because “it has a good finish and it’s extremely strong. This is one of the reasons I like it so much. I can use it to strengthen structures, fill holes, hold wooded dowels together etc, as well as sculpt features and I’m confident it can travel well and there won’t be any issues with it long term.”
2. Super Sculpey
Another favourite is Super Sculpey which comes in a variety of colours and stays pliable until it is cooked or cured. This is an essential for JPKS’ prototypes because “you can fine tune details and smoothing for a lot longer and can achieve a finish that doesn’t require nearly as much sanding as the Apoxie Sculpt.”[Back to top]
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Candie Bolton‘s designer toy artistry is bold, vibrant, and packed full of punchy colours and finite details. So let’s dive into her top picks for materials!
1. Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Airbrush
With every artist comes their applicator, whether that be a brush, pencil or an airbrush! Candie’s first pick is the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS Airbrush because “this particular model can take a lot of abuse and mine is still going strong after 3 years of heavy use.”
2. Tamiya Masking Sheet
Next up is the humble Tamiya masking sheet to help create shapes and designs. Tamiya masking sheets are a specific favourite for Candie because “I’m always cutting out shapes for my paint masking style and these work perfectly. They’re delicate enough to not damage the paint underneath, but still have a good stickiness to them.”
3. Olfa Art Knife
There’s nothing quite like an all-rounder tool to complete a kit! For Candie, this is the Olfa Art Knife, as she “can use it for cutting vinyl, but also finer details like cutting masking tape, opening boxes, basically anything that necessitates scissors, I’ll usually grab the knife instead.”
4. GodHand Tweezers
As a bonus essential, Candie wants to give a special shout-out to the GodHand tweezers (fine tip and wide tip) because “cat hair and dust is the bane of my existence. If I’m not using these to place stickers and rearrange masking tape then I’m using them to pick off small imperfections during the painting process. I keep multiple pairs near me at my desk and also with my airbrushing supplies.” Also credit to the self healing cutting mat!
If you want to find out more about Candie, check out our interview![Back to top]
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There’s also nothing quite like a material perfectly complementing a designer toy artist’s style! This is the case for Kristy first staple, BeeSPuttY! Kristy tells us it’s because BeeSPuttY is “a very hard polymer clay and that works well for how I sculpt.”
2. Super Sculpey
Much like JPK, Kristy also likes Super Sculpey for her work as “it’s a bit softer without being too soft. So it works better for certain things so my hand doesn’t get too tired trying to work the super hard clay.”
3. Vallejo Acrylic Paint
With such beautiful gradients of tones used in her work, the perfect paint is key! For Kristy, she likes Vallejo Acrylic Paint because “it’s great quality paint and it has so many colors. They also have a few lines that are made with airbrushing in mind. It makes it really easy to get that nice, flat paint finish without the bumpiness you see a lot in acrylic. And I like mixing my own paints, too, just because I find it fun!”
Check out our interview with Kristy to find out about her recent endeavours![Back to top]
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Jessica Emmett‘s watercolour-focused design style combined with in-depth detailing has been incredibly popular, and it’s easy to see why! Here are her preferred tools.
1. GOLDEN Absorbent Ground
Most designer toy artists will have an ultimate holy grail tool or material and Jessica’s is GOLDEN Absorbent Ground! Why is it so great? Jessica says it’s because “it allows me to use all the drawing implements I love to use on 2D work, like watercolour, Copic Multiliners, Rotring rapidographs, dip pens, colour pencils, and many other materials/techniques that cannot normally be used on non porous surfaces. It’s been a game changer.”
Jessica is renowned for her stunning watercolour work so it should be no surprise that this is her second choice!
Jessica says, “I love Watercolour for both 2D & 3D work. Often, acrylics are a means to an end for my art toys whereas watercolours I feel I gel with creativity. So it’s purely a personal preference.
“My palette is mostly made up of Daniel Smith but I find I like specific colours across brands and it’s only when I paint with each colour I know if I like the feel of it.”
Jessica’s top picks for colours are Cadmium Yellow Middle by Wallace Seymour, Quinacridone Magenta by Holbein, Winsor Violet (Dioxazine) by Winsor & Newton, and Rembrandt Turquoise Blue by Royal Talens.
3. Smooth-On Smooth-Cast 305 resin
Finally, Jessica’s last essential is Smooth-On‘s Smooth-Cast 305, because “sourcing resin isn’t easy in Singapore. So once I’ve found one that works for me I’ve stuck with it…For the past few years, 305 is my go-to resin despite how challenging it can be to get ahold of it (I usually have to import it).”[Back to top]
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And there you have it! A solid list of the world’s best designer toy materials picked by 5 of the industry’s leading artists. Thanks again to Christopher, Jon-Paul, Candie, Kristy, and Jessica for this fantastic Designer Toy 101!
[Invasion Toys is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above. We make no referral or kickback from any of the links in this article.]