No, Martha Stewart doesn't have her own line of Barbie clones. Designer toys, a.k.a. vinyl toys or urban vinyl
, are the coolest-looking toys you'll ever find (thanks Bobbi
). They're definitely more for grown-ups than kids. Toy artists produce only a few thousand of a series, with several variants. For the small, action-figure sized ones, you won't know which one you've bought until you open the box. Others are larger, more like mini-sculptures than toys. (Pictured is Smorkin Labbit, my favorite, by Frank Kozik
If it still sounds weird, but intriguing, check out the Toy Qube shop in the Flushing Mall. The staff is friendly and really wants you to learn about designer toys. (They're big fans themselves.) The small toys cost $6 to $10 each; the bigger ones start at $10 and go up to $60.
In mid-October Toy Qube hosts two of the top vinyl toy artists -- MAD and Sket -- in a show and signing called Controlled Substances. In addition to special-release vinyl toys, there'll be original artwork and skateboard decks. The last turnout at Toy Qube brought over 200 fans to the store, and this one is sure to be bigger.
- Toy Qube in the Flushing Mall, 133-31 39th Avenue, #F36, Flushing, NY, 11354, 718-939-8605; Open 1-8 p.m., 7 days a week
- Controlled Substances - Toy show - October 22, 2005, 6-9 p.m., free