Monday, December 29, 2008

the be@rbrick is a kubrick

There's something fascinating about alter egos.

Most superheroes have them: Superman hides behind the unassuming Clark Kent. Underneath the Iron Man suit is millionaire Tony Stark. On an ordinary day, Spiderman is the dorky Peter Parker. The real Batman is the angst-ridden Bruce Wayne.

Same case with bad guys: In Batman, the evil Two-Face was the former law-enforcing Harvey Dent. The deceitful Catwoman was the mousy underdog, Selina Kyle. Spiderman's vengeful Green Goblin is Harry Osborn, Peter Parker's best friend.

In real life, there are movie stars who portray different lives on and off-screen... women who play the role of doting mother and corporate bitch at the same time... and married men who pretend they're single – haha!

Hero or not, it can be fun to lead a double life. Think: why have one life when you can have two? :-)

Check out Series 8's rare Secret Bearbrick cum Kubrick (above), released in 2004, the first ever 2-in-1 Bearbrick. (TIP: Just this month, Medicom released a black version of this as part of the new Series 17. Go grab one... or should I say two?)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the best stocking stuffer

Last December 19, I attended a Christmas party at my brother's place along Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

All the guests were asked to bring a 'white elephant' – an ugly, unwanted gift that they had received in the past (which simply took precious space inside their closets) or something that hadn't been useful around the house for some reason.

After dinner, it was time for the gift exchange! Everybody was excited – not because of the gifts (haha) – but with the challenge of trying to land the least ugly gift of all.

Guess what I ended up with? A plus-size t-shirt with a very girly design (?!!?) – something that I should simply give away or keep for next year's funny gift exchange!

Nobody wants a white elephant for Christmas. That's why when my business partner S and I decided what to give our friends for the holidays, we made sure it was the best gift – the most memorable 'stocking stuffer' – that they would ever receive from our company, PC&V Communications.

Want to see what we gave them? Click here.

Merry Christmas, Bearbrick Lovers! :-)

(Top, left) The 2008 Christmas Bearbrick created by FrancFranc (the Japanese home furnishing store chain) comes with the cute, red stocking which can be hung on a tree. It's a Christmas stocking stuffer that any Bearbrick collector will love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

toy hunting in taipei

I just found out last weekend that Taipei is a good hunting ground for... designer toys!

How to find them: First, take the subway to the Zhongxiao Dunhua Station and get out at Exit 11. There, you'll find the Dinghao Shopping Center (above).

On the third level of Dinghao is Monster Taipei (above), a store which sells all kinds of toys, including Bearbricks. Jen Huang, the owner of this store is the driving force behind the Taipei Toy Festival, an annual event that has put Taipei on the map when it comes to designer toys.

Here, the staff will gladly give you directions to the next store (below).

Monster Gear, the sleek, upscale version of Monster Taipei, is only three blocks away. At this store, you do not have to sift through boxes – all the toys are properly displayed behind clear glass, like easy targets. If you're also scouting around for fashionable street gear, just go down the basement.

A rainbow of Bearbricks adorn the door of Monster Gear.

(Above) The next stop is Hot Dog Toyz, a two-minute walk from Monster Gear.

The store (which is on the 2nd floor) is neatly organized – it's the sheer number of choices that will confuse you!

It's the best place to find Bearbricks in Taipei (or in the world, even) – look at this display! Thanks to the wonderful salesperson (I forgot her name); she gave me two (2) free 'secret' bears because I spent so much – haha!

Finally, there's Paradise Toys, only a minute away from Hot Dog Toyz. Not quite 'paradise' in terms of size but definitely worth a visit.

In my experience, the hunt for designer vinyl toys is not easy. They are only available in a few specialty stores that are often hard to find. Even in big cities where such toys have a large cult following – New York City, San Francisco, Paris, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei – you'd better come armed with Internet research if you don't want to go home empty-handed.

Happy hunting! :-)

(Top photo) The 'She' Bearbrick (wearing a cheongsam) was created by Jen Huang of Monster Taipei for the 2005 Taipei Toy Festival in Taiwan. It belongs to a set of six – the others were designed by Pal Wong, Mark Chang, Nathan Jurevicius, Brothersfree and Push Comics.

Info from / Pics by yours truly

Sunday, November 30, 2008

an unsolved mystery

Two weeks ago, I received an unexpected call from S, my business partner.

"My driver is missing!" she blurted out. "Around 5pm, I asked him to drop me off at Santi's Deli in Rockwell. He was supposed to park the car at the nearby mall and buy me meds for my headache. But when I called and texted him – countless times – to ask him to pick me up, he never answered. To think that I told him I wouldn't take long! After waiting for two hours, I decided to take a cab home. Should I call the police?"

My mind raced. Was her driver's phone on silent mode? Why didn't he check it for messages? Did he fall asleep in the drivers' lounge? Did he meet an accident? Or was the car hijacked in the basement parking area of the mall? (The car was a high-end SUV, a vehicle on the police's list of cars-most-likely-to-be-carnapped. )

"We must be very sure before we report the matter to the police," I replied, "I think they issue shoot-to-kill orders on drivers of stolen vehicles."

"Then I should go back to the mall and find out if the car is still parked there," she said, sounding worried.

"That may be dangerous. You want my driver to come with you? He can be your bodyguard."

"I'll go alone."

At 7:30pm, I called her on her mobile phone.

After three rings, the call pushed through but no one said 'Hello'. There was a sound of rustling like someone was fumbling for the phone. Then I heard a very loud and shrill scream! What the hell was going on?!

She finally spoke, "Hi, I'm on my way to the mall."

"Are you okay? I heard a scream–" I asked.

"Those were my brakes screeching." Then she put the phone down.

At 8:30pm, she called and said, "The security guards found my car in Basement Parking Level One but my driver's nowhere to be found. They've paged him already."

"Ask the guards to check inside the car – maybe kidnappers tied him up in there, and are waiting for you," I spoke slowly, horrified at the thought.

At 9:30pm, my phone rang. "Found him. Said his phone got busted. He didn't hear any ring or any text message beep."

"But he got the messages?" I was so perplexed.

"Yup, they were in his phone inbox," was her exasperated reply.

"What an excuse!" I exclaimed to S. Then I thought to myself, "What a lie!"

Consider the facts: (1.) He knew that S would only take a short while at Santis Deli. (2.) Four and a half hours had passed since he dropped her off. (3.) All the text messages telling him to fetch her were in his phone.

Was he lying or not? What do you think really happened?

For me, the mystery was far from over.

(Top) This rare 'secret' bear with a big '?' on its forehead is the Series 3 Artist Be@rbrick by famous Japanese DJ-turned-streetwear designer Hiroshi Fujiwara. The "HTM" logo on its chest is from his spring 2002 streetwear line for Nike.

Click here to check out his blog / artworks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

taking toys out of the box

Whenever I talk about the urban vinyl/designer toy/art toy culture to non-collectors, I always drop the name of Michael Lau, the Hong Kong toy designer who pioneered it.

In the late 90s, when toy figures consisted mainly of superheroes, robots, anime/movie characters, and Barbie/Ken-types, Lau created figures that were a reflection of the thriving youth culture. Instead of metallic armors and space suits, his toy figures wore hoodies, hip-hop jeans, chains, earrings, tattoos and cool rubber shoes. They were known as the 12-inch Gardeners, a collection of 100+ 'cool dudes' that were rare as they were unique.

Today, you won't be able to get hold of one – they are completely sold out, and no collector will ever want to part with his. You have better chances of scoring a 6-inch vinyl version. Below are two of them – Box B (with the recycling symbol) and Box C (with his pants down).

(Below) Snapshots of Michael Lau's Gardener book: The original 12-inch versions of the box head dudes.

Of course, Lau has also designed Bearbricks, two of which are shown on top. These two 'packing tape' Bearbricks were produced by his own company called Crazysmiles for the August 2002 Toycon in Hong Kong. You can see they were inspired by the Box Gardeners.

A Michael Lau Bearbrick that I'm really dying to have (in case they decide to mass produce it in a smaller size) is the one below – a 24-inch one-of-a-kind bear that was part of the Bearbrick Worldwide Tour exhibition.

A Bearbrick packed with Lau's originality, no less.

Info from The Art Of Michael Lau / Toys: New Designs From The Art Toy Revolution by Strangeco & MTV /

Saturday, November 8, 2008

be@rbrick vs. breast cancer

It all began with a red ribbon. First seen on actor Jeremy Irons at the 1991 Tony Awards, this ribbon quickly became the universal icon of AIDS awareness.

Soon after, the pink ribbon emerged. Evelyn Lauder, founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) made it the symbol of the battle against breast cancer.

And now, a diamond-studded ribbon.

The Hard Rock Cafe guitar pin with the ribbon made of pink diamonds (below) was auctioned off at to help raise funds for Lauder's BCRF. This piece of jewelry (with an estimated value of $20,000) was designed by jeweler-to-the-stars Michael Greene.

(Top, right) The Pink Ribbon Bearbrick with the BCRF logo was created by Medicom in partnership with Breast Cancer Network Japan. It's an elegant bearbrick in varying textures and rose hues. And while I normally shun bears with logos on their chests, I did not hesitate to buy this one. Once in a while, it's nice to know that Bearbricks help promote not just the sale of worldly goods, but also the fight to save human lives.

Info from / Pic of Hard Rock pin from

Monday, October 27, 2008

shop till you drop dead

Every year, the living dead meet up in the streets of New York City for ZombieCon. Their battle cry? "Bloody Marys, brains and brands!"

In the pics below, photographer Ted Seelie captured the creepy congregation invading department stores and designer boutiques around Manhattan.

Wreaking havoc inside...

...and outside Bloomingdales.

Mad dash to Gucci.

Dying for Harry Winston jewelry.

Decomposing guys, girls and guts spill out of Tiffany's.

Shopping for body parts in Times Square.

Moral of the story: Like a miracle, retail therapy can bring anyone back from the dead. Happy Halloween! :-)

(Top, left) The bandaged zombie bear is the Secret Horror Bearbrick of Series 6. Released in 2003.

Info from / 2007 Zombiecon pics by Ted Seelie / Bearbrick pic by Yours Truly

Saturday, October 18, 2008

designing for the boardroom broad

There are two Kenny Wongs and they're both very talented designers.

Kenny Wong 'The Toy Designer' is the founder of Kennyswork and is one of the creators of Brothersfree. (I have two of his 12-inch Brothersworker figures which I really love.)

Kenny Wong 'The Industrial Designer', on the other hand, is an award-winning creative who just graduated from the Konstfack University College of Art, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. His past works include designs for Bosch Surveillance Cams, Trefot Ceramics, Infrared Cams for the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi. But for me, his most memorable designs are the shoes you see below which he created for the 2008 Shoe Design Competition in Hong Kong. As you can see, his inspiration is the classic business suit. Very clever!

Impeccable business style – from the necktie (above) down to the cuff link (below).

I'd say that to be well-heeled is to be well-suited for success. With heels like these, any corporate bitch can simply step on and kill whoever stands in her way. :-D

(Top) This Secret Horror Bearbrick from Series 11 is based on the 2005 film 'Executive Koala', Minoru Kawasaki's psychological tale of horror/murder that involves a Koala in a suit – an honest-to-goodness corporate animal! :-)

Meryl Streep pic from 'The Devil Wears Prada.' Digital imaging by yours truly. / Kenny Wong shoe pics from

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

battle of the blonds

Six weeks before she died of a drug overdose, Marilyn Monroe posed nude for photographer Bert Stern. That collaboration is now known as 'the last sitting' which produced some of the screen goddess's most provocative and memorable portraits.

Early this year, Stern recreated those classic images for New York Magazine. And he chose notorious pop star Lindsay Lohan to pose as Marilyn.

So which bare blond looks better?

(Above) Lindsay Lohan.
(Below) Marilyn Monroe.

(Above) Lindsay.
(Below) Marilyn.

My verdict?

No contest. A 'naked blond' may be a cliche, but there's only one Marilyn. :-)

(Left) Japanese rap artist DJ Ozma created the 'Naked' Bearbrick (top pic) based on the nude-looking costume of his back-up dancers during New Year TV show.

The costume's shocking effect forced the host, Tamio Miyake, to apologize later in the show. Watch the video clip here.

Info from / Lohan pics from,, Monroe pics from, /DJ Ozma info and pic from

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

judging a book by its cover

When I want to be surrounded by creativity, I go to a bookstore.

Not just to be inspired by stack upon stacks of brilliant writing, but also to ogle at the ever-increasing array of artful book covers. With more distinguished artists like Frank Miller, Tomer Hanuka, Roz Chast and Art Spiegelman joining the ranks of book designers, the modern day bookshop has become a veritable art gallery.

Recently, Penguin Books (in partnership with Creativity Magazine) launched a Cover Design Competition for Sam Taylor's upcoming novel, The Island At The End Of The World.

Here's the synopsis:

"It is a chilling novel about the near future, when most of the world has been destroyed by catastrophic floods. As a father and his three children begin to rebuild their lives on an island, the youngest son Finn begins to question how they arrived there and why their family alone has been spared.'

'Things take an unexpected turn when a strange man named Will swims ashore, and he appears to know quite a bit about the family and the circumstances that surrounded the floods. But Finn's father is determined to keep him silent and is willing to do anything to prevent Will from disturbing his family's idyllic life on the island.'

'Sam Taylor's The Island at the End of the World
is a riveting post-apocalyptic tale that explores the darkness that lies within the hearts of men."

Penguin editor Alexis Washam, creative director Paul Buckley, and the editors of Creativity Magazine selected the 25 finalists and the overall winner of this book cover design competition.

Below are my 8 favorite designs (which include the winning entry). Congratulations to the artists!

Left: Winner Matthew Taylor (no relation to the book's author).
Right: John Rice

Left: Philip Witak
Right: Mai La Thai

Left: Pillow Fort a.k.a. Seth Jablon and Mehmet Irdel
Right: Alan Vladusic

Left: Ryan Doggendorf
Right: Justin Walsh

One literary idea spreads to eight imaginative book covers! Let me put it this way: creativity is contagious.

That's why I visit bookstores as often as I can. :-)

Top photo: The Bearbrick-reading-a-mock-up-of-the-Sam-Taylor-novel is one of the eight bears that belong to the Comic Cue Series. It's called the Manga-San Bearbrick, designed by Japanese
manga artist Hishashi Eguchi. I chose it for this post because of its eyeglasses, obviously – haha! :-)

Info and Book Cover Images from Creativity-Online / Bearbrick info from / Bearbrick pic by Yours Truly.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

5 best blog posts

Before I became a finalist for the 2nd Philippine Blog Awards, I was asked to submit what I thought were my five (5) best blog entries from April 2007 to April 2008.


If you check out my sidebar on the right, you'll see that I have a list of favorite posts which I have entitled "The Best of Bearbrick Love" – and it has thirty-two entries! And I was to choose only five!?

So I asked help from my friend, Jun, and after an hour of analysis, debate, and clicking through a year's worth of work, this was the list that we finally submitted to the committee. (Just click on a title below to read the entire post.)

1. Dreadful Dogs

2. Monkey Business

3. Electric Shock!

4. Li'l Known Stories 'Bout Li'l Red Riding Hood

5. VIP for Vuitton

'8' is my lucky number but I hope '5' will suffice. Wish me luck! :-)