Friday, June 13, 2014
Horrors of Malformed Toys: A Gallery of Sofubi Grotesqueries
I recently came across an advertisement for a toy figure produced by Karz Works that is based on the killer plants from the 1963 sci-fi thriller, The Day of the Triffids. Triffid replicas are impossible to find outside of resin model kits, so I'm glad to see that this classic movie monster is getting the toy figure treatment that has already been given many times over to the likes of Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster. However, one word in the ad stuck out because I had no idea what it meant: "sofubi". In the context of the ad, the Triffid figure is described as a "sofubi vinyl figure", but what that said about the figure itself was a complete mystery to me.
I looked far and wide on the Internet for clarification on the term and the most succinct description I could find is this (which I found on Wiki Answers): "Sofubi is a Japanese style of making toys and sculptures using soft vinyl. It is becoming popular among toy designers in America and Europe." Upon further research, I found that the term "sofubi" refers to both the material (the soft vinyl) and the aesthetic to which the material is applied (a particular kind of toy/sculpture design). From what I can tell based on what I've seen so far, the sofubi style emphasizes a bold usage of color and distorted, imperfect details (e.g., a huge head with a tiny body and stubby limbs). The sofubi style appears to complement the Japanese caricature style known as "chibi" (a.k.a. "super-deformed").
Sofubi can be applied to a variety of subject matter, and I've even seen sofubi figures based on characters from DC comics and the Star Wars movies. The most bizarre and gaudy examples of sofubi I've found are those that depict monsters. In honor of these engagingly eerie eyesores, I've assembled a gallery of sofubi monster figure pictures (courtesy of pictures I found on the Man-E-Toys.com site, a great source of news about modern sofubi merchandise). Click below to get a glimpse of sofubi at its strangest.