Toy Reviews

‘APO Newt’ by twelveDot Has Arrived! [Unboxing and Review]

An up-close look at APO Newt, twelveDot’s 8-inch resin masterpiece

In April of 2020, storied Korean toy artist twelveDot (real name Hyunseung Rim) posted a picture of his APO Newt prototype, a mega-sized resin statue that sent the collector’s sphere into furor. Well, we’re glad to say that even in the face of an unprecedented global health pandemic, twelveDot successfully produced a full run of two variants: turquoise-yellow (edition of 10) and black (edition of 20).

Strap in as we take you through an unboxing and review, and dish out some exclusive info that twelveDot was gracious enough to fill us in on.

A brief history of APO Frogs

Hyunseung Rim, who is also known as The Frog Father[citation needed], has been a figure in the designer toy world since at least as far back as 2013. He created his first ambitious, amphibious art piece, titled Project aftr, as a graduation project from the Korea National University of Arts.

twelvedot original apocalypse frog
The original Apocalypse Frog

The narrative behind the project is one where frogs, one of the environment’s most sensitive creatures, survive the human apocalypse and evolve to become bipedal organisms. Thus, APO Frogs is actually short for Apocalypse Frogs.

Building on this concept, Rim has been very successful in the designer toy industry and has consistently puts out APO Frogs to this very day.

(H/T: CoArt Magazine)

APO Newt unboxing

But this article isn’t about APO Frogs. Instead, the spotlight is on the newest cousin in the APO family: the Apocalypse Newt!

After receiving that oh-so serotonin-infused shipping notification from twelveDot, it was a nail-biting four days delivery time from South Korea to the United States (DHL, you legend!). Before the box was even opened, it was clear how well-packed the shipment was.

Bespoke “Fragile” slaps adorned each side of the box, and the entire thing felt incredibly solid. No jostling inside whatsoever, which makes sense, as the contents and bubble wrap fit so perfectly it was almost uncanny.

apo newt display box in bubble wrap
*chef’s kiss*

Underneath the gorgeous bubble wrap, things started to heat up. Not to be satisfied with anything less than perfection, twelveDot packaged each APO Newt in a custom wood storage box and high quality foam. Every collector understands the significance of a nice box, and this one certainly went above and beyond.

We dropped twelveDot a line and he kindly told us each box was hand-made with cedar and finished with Bondex wood stain. The quality is high, and the craftsmanship is quite impressive; there are no gaps or splits in the joints, and even the edges are beveled — no splinters!

But our favorite feature of the box is probably the branding. The sliding cover is laser engraved with both “apo newts” and twelveDot logos. Clean!

Sliding the cover off, we’re greeted by the newt’s tail peeking out from its custom-cut foam. The foam is so substantial that’s it’s difficult to pull out of the box. Each layer of foam is about four inches thick, and they hug the newt well.

On to the newt!

APO Newt review

The boxes are certainly exciting, but the star of the show is obviously the Apocalypse Newt itself.

On first impression, our amphibious friend has a delicious matte black coat. There are no bubbles or bald spots, and the finish is completely smooth to the touch. A huge added bonus is its apparently oleophobic nature; the newt stays fingerprint free even after quite a lot of manhandling.

apo newt birds eye view

After waking him from his slumber, it’s clear that the APO Newt is high quality from top to bottom. Mr. Newt is just under 8 inches tall and comes in at a hefty 2lb 7oz (just over 1.1kg). It truly earns the “designer” designation in a way that many other designer toys do not.

The lines are very clean and there’s no lumpiness to speak of. Each digit on his hands and feet come to a perfect point, and the contours of his head are a very nice compromise between organic and geometric. The APO Newt’s eyes are a standout feature, being perfectly shiny hemispheres reminiscent of glass.

According to twelveDot, each APO Newt is made of urethane resin, with a urethane coating on the eyes for a high-gloss finish. How the artist was able to make them so flawless, we have no idea!

Though it’s tough to choose the best part, our favorite feature is probably the newt’s swooping tail. Not only does the thickness end in a perfectly-aesthetic tip and gently-rounded edges, it also serves as the newt’s only support. Aside from that one plane of contact, the rest of the statue is suspended in air as if he were floating in water. The illusion is quite convincing.

twelvedot signature
(felt pads were not included)

After all that, the underside of the newt also sports twelveDot’s signature, though unfortunately they are not numbered.

The quality and care put into these guys cannot be overstated. Each element — from the display box to the newt itself — was clearly agonized over, and it paid off swimmingly. twelveDot’s APO Newt project has all the hallmarks of East-Asian craftsmanship that we’d love to see more widely adopted by the Western toy industry at large.

Overall, the APO Newt is truly a once-in-a-collection piece of art, and we are grateful to add it to our treasures.

twelvedot apo newt closeup

That does it for our Apocalypse Newt unboxing and review! Stay tuned for more APO news, as there’s sure to be more twelveDot goodness to come.

For more stuff like this, take a look at some of our other review articles.

Did you catch a newt, too? Any other toys we should review? What should we name our newty friend?? Leave a comment below! 🐸 🦎

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