Designer Toys 101: What are Paper Toys?

If you are new to this column, it is truly meant to be read from the beginning to the most recent.
Please start with the first installment, "What are Designer Toys?"

The concept of Paper Toys within the Designer Toys community tends to be one of either polarized viewpoints or absolute indifference; some people love them and embrace them, some consider them crafts and disavow them, while the remainder — and dare I say majority — are indifferent to them. It harkens back to the old style of paper model that would be cut out and assembled, the finished form being a structural creation all its own.

Now, some people will equate this with origami, but that's a misnomer since origami is a specifically Japanese derived art form that involves the folding of paper to create a piece. Kirigami, which is a form of origami that involves cutting is closer to Paper Toys, but the most direct correlation would be that of papercraft, an art form that involves primarily the use of paper to create three-dimensional objects.

Here's what your typical Paper Toy looks like, as a design model (left) and assembled (right):
And while the medium does easily harken back to the craft projects of youth, it is a complex medium to create a design sheet that assembles properly. And, by utilizing traditional Designer Toy artists and styles, it does merge into the community properly.

In the end, should we even be concerned if this is art or not? It's certainly a style that requires skill and talent to create (in base design form) and it easily accessible for the common man to make their own toy. Typically distributed for free (or cheaply), Paper Toys might very well be the ultimate pop art delivery method… providing art to the masses as well as involving them in the art itself.

Next Week: How does a vinyl toy evolve from concept to production?

Designer toy used in this week's column was inspired by the designs of Paul Shih and created by Dolly Oblong.

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