Unique. One-of-a-kind. Artistic. Special. Original. These are just some of the many words to describe the world of designer toys and collectibles.
Using a variety of materials such as vinyl, plastic and resin, the creators in the designer collectible community offer products from an ever-changing stream of original ideas. The designer toy world can be very personal, as many designers and artists infuse their work with their own style and imagination. The result? Many designer toys can seem eccentric or even strange due to the unique vision of each artist that brings these figures to life.
One of the best places to see all of these designers and toys at once is at the recently held Designer Con, or D-Con. Conceived in Pasadena, California, designers and artists from all over the country and world gather together at this annual convention to meet fans, other artists and vendors, and to celebrate the uniqueness of these collectibles. The convention has grown to such an impressive scale that this year they had to move facilities from Pasadena to the much larger Anaheim Convention Center in California.
Also new this year was that DC Collectibles attended the show for the very first time.
Alright, alright, we get it. We’d totally understand why you’d feel a company like DC is too mainstream for a designer art and collectible show. But with DC Collectibles’ new line of vinyl figures, DC Artists Alley, that’s very much changing. The stylish line is almost custom made for a show like D-Con. DC Artists Alley is all about exploring artists that may not always fit the traditional style of DC’s comic books, and if there’s one thing you’d say about many of the artists in the world of designer toys, it’s that they’re non-traditional.
“We are very excited to be a part of this community and work with artists we’ve admired over the years,” says DC Collectibles Executive Director, Jim Fletcher.
Launching DC Artists Alley has required DC Collectibles to get closely in tune with the designer toy community, and work with designers who aren’t traditionally associated with comics, like Joe Ledbetter, whose use of anthropomorphic styles makes him a stand-out in the world of designer toys and art. Ledbetter’s wave of DC Artists Alley figures comes out in April, 2019.
“Designer Con offered us a unique chance to be able to sell to customers directly, for the first time ever,” Fletcher points out.
Of note among DC Collectible’s D-Con offerings was a D-Con exclusive figure, an Eclipse Variant of Hainanu “Nooligan” Saulque’s DC Artists Alley Nightwing figure, which featured Nooligan’s iconic art style in a slick black and gold color scheme. The figures were limited to 200 pieces, and came with a hand-drawn and signed art card by Nooligan himself; no two cards being the same.
To celebrate more of the artists featured in the DC Artists Alley line, DC Collectibles also offered art prints of Joe Ledbetter’s and Chrissie Zullo’s designs. Each print was numbered one through fifty and sold for $40 each. To compliment Ledbetter’s print design, enamel pins of his Batman design were sold for $10 each.
To top off the design-centric event, DC Collectibles revealed that their new DC Artists Alley designer for the end of 2019 will be powerhouse monster designer, James Groman. An award-winning name in the designer toy community, Groman’s very specific focus on larger-than-life and highly detailed monsters is certainly something you have never seen from DC Collectibles before.
After taking the bold dive into this strong design-based world, DC Collectibles is planning to offer even more amazing and diverse pieces through their Artists Alley line in the future. Judging by the passion on display at D-Con, the market for these highly original takes on some of DC’s familiar characters exists, suggesting that once again, DC’s heroes are primed to save us…from mundane collectibles.
Amanda Levine covers collectibles, cosplay and pop culture for DCComics.com.