With the rise of toy conventions and pop-up stores in various locations in the metro, along with the growing community of collectors and enthusiasts— one thing is for sure — Toy making, toy collecting, and toy culture has been elevated into a category of its own thanks to these dedicated artists!
Manila is no stranger when it comes to the toy industry in the Philippines. It has always been the home of many local artists and designers who kept the art community alive with fresh and innovative ideas. Among the many independent designers in the field are ten local artists that revolutionized toy-making and design by adding a modern flair to miniature figures, which eventually paved the way for its growing success and recognition.
Juanito Maiquez, also known as Quiccs, is a legendary designer who took the world by storm with numerous awards including Artist of the Year for 2018 and 2019 in New York. His most recent accomplishment was a collaboration with Adidas for the Superstar’s 50th anniversary, where they launched a shoe collection with matching toy figures. Quiccs is a self-taught artist whose style and design are heavily influenced by hip hop, Japanese robots, and graffiti.
Aloud Space Lab
The home of many bootleg toys inspired by Filipino pop culture in the 80s and 90s, Aloud Space Lab produces nostalgic creations from our childhood, such as Sineskwela and Batang-X. The creations of the Rizal-based artist, Bryan Antonio, are heavily influenced by various elements such as sci-fi, fantasy, vintage toys, and horror films. His works include characters Kokey, Ang Panday, Undin, and many more.
JL Marfori, better known as Artcade JL, is a notable toy designer with an impressive illustration and graphic design background. His work has been featured in exhibits such as the Likha Art Fair 2021 and a recent art show called “Kalsada.” His creations include DJ Mobile, Madbox, and Emcee Sewage which are inspired by hip hop and the hypebeast culture. Additionally, he has also been gaining visibility for his active collaborations with other creative local brands.
The Singapore-based Filipino artist, Carlo Cacho, started his journey as a toy creator with avid interest and fascination in comic books. He is best known for his edgy sculptures, commissioned pieces, and his modern take on original figures. He does a lot of collaborations and experimentations on his craft, as he wanted his designs to be unrestrained by specific signature styles. His influences include pop culture, Star Wars, hip-hop, and the street culture of Singapore and the Philippines.
Milo San Luis
Milo San Luis is the genius toy designer behind the popular toy figure Death Spray, which remains to be a favorite among toy collectors. His work has been featured in various conventions such as the Manila Pop Culture, Toycon, and on the ‘It Was All a Dream’ show for Clutter Magazine in New York. His creations consist of Death Dreamer, Goddess, and his most recent character, BaeBeep from a collaboration with Martian Toys.
Gori’s creative beginnings started with paint and street graffiti. His creations on a large canvas allowed him to produce big and strong art pieces that led to the development of his iconic character, Gorilla. This sensational designer had his first solo exhibit in the US and has worked with the famous toy creator, Quiccs. His inspirations are drawn from fellow artists such as KAWS, Takashi Murakami, and Javier Calleja.
A renowned creator in the toy scene industry, Arman Kendrick is notorious for producing exceptional pieces from edgy art figures to commissioned characters of pop culture. His work has been displayed at the Warner Tv Pop Expo, Toycon. and Alohacon in Hawaii. Ayo Sensei, Kumatsuki the Ronan Bear, and Kumataiyo-Shonen are just some of his most notable characters.
The Art of Sandman
A rising artist in producing one-of-a-kind designs, Dave Bedia has worked on an extensive number of commissioned pieces for collectors. He has showcased his works at many events such as the New York Comic Con, Designer Toy World Cup 2019, and The Lost Legion by Art Toys Ph. Dave has worked on multiple collaborations with Arman Kendrick and has released his first toy, Mego.
Creon Chkn Head
Creon or Michael Eryk Lalic is an artist identified for his fun, distinctive character of Chickens. This iconic design was made to commemorate his first dog, Chicken. He released his first toy in 2017 with the help of fellow designer Quiccs. Since then, the distinguished artist has been featured in multiple events such as the New York Comic Con, Toycon, and the Sands Expo & Convention in Singapore.
An established figure in the Philippines and abroad, Jan Calleja became the nominee for two consecutive years as the Best Toy Customizer in Clutter Magazine New York. A born tinkerer, the artist had his big break when he first joined a competition by Spencer and Stephen Ong, where he bagged second place. Influences behind his art toys include conceptual designer Ralph Mcquarrie and painter HR Griger.
Every toy has a story. From concept to craftsmanship, your beloved figures have undergone a rigorous creative journey in order to deliver a fun and immersive experience. These local designers and artists keep the toy ecosystem fresh, interactive, and engaging!