A New Dimension - Jon Shih's Toy Collection
Often the man behind the lens for Kinjaz’s breath-taking videos and photos, Jon Shih’s love for art and design is also apparent in his personal art toy collection. Upon moving to L.A. in 2012, the multi-talented dancer/ photographer discovered Kidrobot and the incredible artist Huck Gee. The simple yet detail-oriented aesthetic of Huck Gee’s designs caught Jon’s eyes, and opened a whole new world of fascination for him. He picked up his first original character art toy – an 8” Raku Dunny set – and the rest is history.
Years later, the number of art toys in Jon’s collection increased multifold. Favorite pieces in there include XXRAY Foo Dogs by Jason Freeny, James Jean’s Mickey and Minnie, Kikkosket by Sket-One, Huck Gee’s Gold Life series, Boba drinking Boba by Luke Chueh, and Mechasoul Stormtrooper by Clogtwo.
Let’s have Jon tell us a little more about his collection and what he loves about art toys!
What makes you want to purchase and collect a piece of art toy?
For me the concept is just as important as the aesthetic, and there is always some kind of connection to a culture or subculture that I feel attached to. The artist may pull inspiration from traditional asian motifs, or draw source material from something in pop culture. If you look at art toys as a creative medium, they have a unique capacity for combining these ideas through the lens of an artist in a tangible, 3d form.
Is there a piece in your collection that was particularly difficult to find, or has special meaning to you?
I somehow managed to pick up a Kaws “Together” piece on the actual website drop, which I couldn’t believe.
The XXRAY Foo Dogs are pretty meaningful because they were a gift from Jackson, and now on display in our Chengdu Studio.
What is the most you have spent on a toy and what makes it worth it?
Definitely the 6 foot tall Kindrik at our Kinjaz Dojo studio locations! Definitely a pretty penny, but so badass and our fans / students love taking photos with him.
What is your toy holy grail? (ie. something you really want but have yet to get your hands on)
Hmm probably a big Huck Gee custom piece like the Cluttermunk or Turret Elephant.
This takes us to Kindrik, a three-way collaboration between Kinjaz, ClogTwo and Mighty Jaxx that resulted in a mysterious tiger ninja that embodies the spirit of Kinjaz. In Jon’s own words, this is how the collaboration started.
In short, this has been a dream project. I was already a fan of Clogtwo and a customer of Mightyjaxx, and had the opportunity to meet both together on a trip to Singapore with the crew. I thought it might be a long shot, but I pitched the idea of a toy collaboration with Kinjaz and they were down.
Kinjaz as a brand is a cultural hybrid with an ever-evolving mix of inspiration - from Naruto to 90’s hip hop, to Bruce Lee and streetwear fashion. We’ve had these mysterious tiger and sensei characters in our universe since the start almost 10 years ago, and this is the first time that there is a clear visual manifestation of them combined into one. I had the privilege of working closely with Clog to develop his look, and he absolutely crushed it.
Urban dance is a culture that hasn’t been explored much in the art toy scene, and vice versa, I’m very thankful for Clog and Mightyjaxx for being down and committing their time and energy to creating a great piece with us. On a personal note, this collaboration has been an amazing fusion of some of my biggest passions. Hopefully we will have more opportunities to work together in the future!
Loads of work has gone into the creation of this little figurine, so what does Jon think about the Kindrik Toy? Quoting Jon:
Nobody could be more biased, but I’m actually thrilled with how it turned out. Working with Clogtwo and the Mightyjaxx team was awesome, and highly collaborative from A to Z. We really spent a lot of time in development to get the small things just right. It is a complex piece, and there are some pretty innovative features that were developed as solutions to the challenges we ran into. Kinjaz fans will recognize some subtle details (yes those are for you). My favorite parts are the removable magnetic mask, and the kunai that slips onto the tail.
How do you know you’re putting your money down for a piece that is truly worth it? With all the designs out there and an unfamiliarity of the subculture, it can be daunting to dive into this potentially expensive hobby. Jon has one word for you - Kindrik. Kindrik makes for a sick first piece, and it already sits on top of his shelf.