All about Eric So

Presently Michael is not the only figure artist from Hong Kong to have made a name for himself. Albeit no one can argue that he wasn't the first to inspire a new generation of figure artists.

Michael's contemporaries include Eric So and a collective group known as Brothers Worker also out of Hong Kong.

Eric So first made his mark in the toy world making Bruce Lee figures and 70's period-piece costumes for Lee as well. When he began stylizing his figures in the animated fashion of Michael, Lee also gained the attention of collectors.

Sprite picked up So to do an add campaign. Eric created a group of colorful six-inch kids each representative of youth culture. The concept was very Gardener but the look was definitely Eric So.

Of the three artists from Hong Kong Eric's style is grounded heavily in his toy background. His figures look the most commercial, yet his style is still unique.

Eric has also designed figures for Hot Toys (a highly collectible Hong Kong toy manufacturer) and the Hot Toys HALO (military figures) Project. As well as Bearbrick and Masks clothing.

Eric's large stylized series is called the Estate collection. It centers around Hong Kong actor and member of LMF Sam Lee and the people in his neighborhood.

Here is an overview of Eric's figures. By rows from top to bottom: Bruce Lee, Sprite 6" and 3", Masks and Hot Toys, HALO and Bearbric, the Estate series

All about Brothersfree Ltd.

Brothersfree is a trio of figure artists Winson Ma, William Tsang and Kenny Wong, all from Hong Kong. Their line is centered around a group of construction workers known as Brothers Worker. There is also a set of figures made up to look like clowns known as Brothers Joker.

In addition to the stylized look of the figures Brothers Worker's biggest contribution to 12" figures are the tools of the workers.

Prior to Brothers Worker tools, utility belts and work clothes were rare for 12" figures. The Brothers Worker team not only created the clothes but all of the tools. This includes: pickax, sledgehammer, hammers, hacksaw, gloves, pliers, wrenches, shovels, crowbars, jackhammers, pipe wrenches, acetylene tanks, welding torches, hard-hats and an air compressor.

The same attention to detail can be seen on the Brothers Jokers figures. Balloons, unicycles, clown hats and shoes were rarely made for 12" figures.

The Brothers Worker crew from left to right: Monkey, Big Mac, Baby, Bomb, Popeye, Tank, Seven (on ladder), Monday, Smart, Money

The Brothers Joker figures from left to right: BJ Bowl, BJ Hammer, BJ Captain, BJ Bear, BJ Angel, BJ Fever and BJ Fire

The COARSETOYS project

Mark Landwehr, from Germany, is the artist and designer behind Coarsetoys. His figures are inspired in part by Michael, however Mark excels in strong angles and sharp corners on his figures. The Coarsetoy figures have an illustrative-synthetic feel to them as opposed to the natural curves in Michael's work.

The Vans shoe company helped pick up the cost of production for the figures in September 2004. Since then Mark has held several other shows and new releases.

There is one major reason why I am calling Mark a contemporary of Michael. In Mark's own words:

"The coarsetoys project is initiated just for fun not for profit."

That's a very good attitude for any and all aspiring figure artists to adopt.

Above left is Flake and directly above is Fluid.

Introducing Coolrain

Coolrain, better known as Lee Chan Woo to his friends, is a very promising figure artist from Korea. His nickname is based on his real name, he explained that Chan means cool in Korean and Woo means rain.

Coolrain has been working at his figure art since 2003. His biggest infleunce is Michael Lau but he later became friends of Mark Landwehr as well.

Like Michael and Mark, Coolrain takes his inspiration from life, his friends and family. He captures the essence of street culture in a friendly, animated fashion. His characters are very whimsical and yet, also remind us of people we might know.

In the case of two of his figures, the photographer Woosra and the graffiti artist Yoonhyup, they are based on Coolrain's friends.

Woosra is based on magazine photographer and journalist Kim Kyung Woo. Yoonhyup is based on Kim Yoonhyup, a real graffiti writer.

Coolrain has collaborated on many projects, including a presentation at the opening of the Nike Flagship Store in Seoul.

I am pleased to welcome Coolrain to the contemporaries page. Please be sure to visit his website as well as his blog!

Click on Michael's back to go to the Crossover Projects page.

Click on Michael to go to the Bootleg Information page.

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Fan-based web page and illustrations by Noe V. Updated Quarterly