STRANGEco's Invisible Plan SDCC '06 by MARS-1
MARS-1 has become well known for the surrealistic space scenes depicts in his paintings and prints, and for good reason. His attention to detail and bold compositions enhance his pieces to make us believe his space-scapes and their inhabitants really exist on some other plane. Over the past few years, with the help from the good people at STRANGEco, the artist has treated us to toys based on his eerie sci-fi designs. The newest being the six Invisible Plan toys which paired with last year's six, complete the twelve piece set. And while last year's were impressive, these raise the bar for detail in a mini-figure even higher.
Sometimes a toy (or series of toys) comes along that really blurs the line between art and toy. Sure these are toys, but the artistry involved in their being raises them beyond your typical toy (and many Designer Toys) and I find myself using art terms in their description and calling them pieces instead of toys. These (as well as all of MARS-1's pieces) are such a line. It all boils down to the artist's amazing designs, coupled with the supreme sculpting talents of Brin Berliner, and STRANGEco's quality control. With this toy-powerhouse trifecta in the driver's seat, it's no wonder I'm in love with these toys. Before we look at each piece individually, there are a few sweeping characteristics to notice. First off, you need to remember that these toys range in size from an inch and a half to a little over three inches high. That's important because it makes the sculpting details and paint apps even more impressive. The entire line of the special edition Invisible Plan is in gray scale. They are cast from quality gray vinyl, and have black and gray paint applied for details. Also, on many the black is used to enhance the shading and shadows of the toy. The paint is very neat on each piece with no light spots or bleeding. I've praised the talents of sculptor Brin Berliner before, but these toys truly amaze me with their delicate details. Opening the box, I felt I was holding votive pieces from some lost race. He is on top of his game! Now let's look at each piece individually. While many of the pieces are based on MARS-1's art, particularly the Invisible Plan series of paintings, there have been no proper names announced for each piece. So I've given them my own title for easier reading. I hope that's okay with Mario.
This is the most human-like of the series and has a real Native American feel to me. I love how his feet are root-like, but aren't exactly the same (different number of toes). Also, the intersecting lines in the chest and back visually break up the toy very nicely. But what really sets this piece off is the feeling that the person is in a suit that is inflated around him. There are folds where his arms bend and the head piece seems to billow around the face. He has two points of articulation at the shoulders. Itís also worth mentioning the black paint on the legs adds a weight to the base of the toy.
Comparatively, this is the least interesting of the set. But when displayed with the rest it brings a sort of balance to the larger more organic pieces. It has a nice quilt like feel made by the crossing lines. Two of the sides display the number 0263. I honestly don't know what the significance of this is, if there is one.
I already called a toy in the first six figures The Mask, I know. But these two pieces echo each other visually so it seemed appropriate. The linear pattern on the head that continues to the base is very nice as are the floral like decorations. Again, the black goes from dark to light from bottom to top to add weight to the design. The little face at the thinnest part of the toy is excellent. Just enough detail, but not too much to bog the collector down.
I love this toy. Seriously. This is a toy that I just can't stop looking at. I love the two faces (with the larger one simply referenced with the eyes). I am amazed at the fact that each pipe on top of his head is individually sculpted. The flower etched around the smaller face and the lines on the legs look great and the painted floral patterns cap it off. If I were to vote for one of these to be made into a larger piece it would be this one. Sadly, it's very close to the Observer in visual style so I doubt it will happen. However, my second choice is next and it's possible.
Based on a sculpture made by MARS-1 some time ago, this is the most delicate of the line and also the most geometric. The chunky cube-like body is offset by the thin delicate arms and legs. The arms twist but two are needed to support the toy. The feet are very tiny and pointing down so without the help of two arms, it would fall over. The tiny face in the center of the front surrounded by the grid and dots looks great and the continuing theme of floral like painted details is strong. This toy really has grown on me and become my second favorite of the line, screaming to be at least five inches tall.
Smoking Temple with Landscape
The first six gave us a Smoking Temple from paintings of the same name. This toy goes one step further with the clear dome top with a landscape inside. It seems to be sweeping sand dunes, or distant mountains. Beneath that is a small face and a symmetrical design with seams and varying shades of gray in the details. This is the largest toy of the twelve and is quite impressive.
Unlike the first six which came individually wrapped, this is a set of six sold in a box decorated with prints. The front has silhouettes of the newest six and the sides continue the visual theme with matching floral patterns. The bottom has silhouettes of the first six and the question, "remember us?" I like how this is a fairly simple box, which is standard for con exclusives, but still has MARS-1's style and even is uniform to the designs on the toys.
As you can tell, I am really impressed with these toys. Many people have said they look nice, but they wish they were bigger. I can understand where that argument comes from, but to me the delicateness and amount of detail poured into these mini-figures offsets any problems. Together, the twelve look very impressive and when you integrate them with your MARS-1 Recon, and Observer toys, it is a very strong display.
Check out MARS-1's site for info on upcoming projects, a look at some of his work, and a shop where you can buy some great artwork.
STRANGEco's site is full of info on the company, their toys, and a blog of sorts with links to all kinds of cool stuff. Plus, it's the only place you can pick up these limited edition Invisible Plan toys.
You should take a minute and read some other articles, the boss won't mind. We put all our Designer Toy coverage in one spot to make it easy on ya.
Article ©2006 MillionairePlayboy.com unless otherwise noted. All characters are property their original owners.