Wheaty Wheat's MAD*L Artist Series
Last year Wheaty Wheat brought 50 artists together to design their own twenty inch MAD*L for the MAD*L Show 2K5. The show looked spectacular and many who attended or saw images online were disappointed that the hottest pieces were sold so fast or were too expensive to be added to their own collections. Fast forward to June 2006: Wheaty Wheat releases the first wave of the MAD*L Artist Series featuring six designs based on pieces from last year's show. Collectors rejoice! While these aren't a mammoth 20 inches, they are very nice pieces and at this price you can have six new MAD*Ls for less than the cost of one of the originals!
As stated, there are six different artists' take on the MAD*L form (that I'll detail in a bit), but there are some sweeping characteristics that all the toys share. I've mentioned before how this is a very nice, cleanly designed form. I love how it is simple and yet interesting enough that it allows for many custom jobs and still feels fresh. As always is the case with Wheaty Wheat, the paint applications are very clean. The line work has no runs and is even throughout and the color apps are smooth with no light spots. Also, while some people found a mold problem with the last series, the company seems to have fixed this and we are left with smooth backs with hardly noticeable seams. The articulation is the same as always: a twist joint at the neck. So it's safe to say that the quality control at Wheaty Wheat seemed to work overtime on these guys. Now on to the artists!
It's only natural that the creator of the line gets a toy, right? Well, it's not a cop out if the design is as great as this one. This piece only uses white paint on a black base figure, but that really makes a bold contrast and works well. The front head sports MAD's name and a crest with a crown. He is claiming to be the king? Well, it's a well known fact he is one of the best at customizing, so who am I to argue? I love the chest of the figure sporting the MAD*L silhouette with enormous wings. Under this is an empty banner. Maybe so you can etch your name in there. The rest of the design consists of flames, stars, and a winged bat on the back of the head. I appreciate this design because it didn't feel pressured to make a human-like character. It uses the form and plays off it excellently, but in a way no other commercially available MAD*L has. That is except...
SKET's design is basically a graffiti tag. Maybe this toy was standing too close to a train he bombed or something. The line work on this is extremely clean; particularly the red outlining the white lettering. This is the most energetic of the designs by far with lettering and lines swirling across the front of the toy and swooping onto the back. The back of the head boasts a more legible tag by SKET. This toy feels like a tribute to the great graff artist.
This design is pretty out there. Mimic is known for his other worldly creepy/cute beings and so it makes sense that he would apply this style to the MAD*L form. There are two faces on this toy, one being the traditional front and the other on the back. The front face has eyes on the ear-like shapes and one huge eye in the center. On the belly, or rather in the belly, is a little guy who I can't decide has recently been eaten, or is awaiting his birth. The back face to me is more pleasing. This is the first production MAD*L to have a face on the back and it really makes this toy stand out. I love how it gives it a dinosaur-like quality to its shape. There are tattoos on the face and back...er chest #2. One appears to be a sperm entering an egg (again referencing the creature waiting to be born mentioned before), and two Asian characters. Mimic's design really is interesting and it makes me want to create an Admiral Ackbar custom MAD*L!!
Kozik loves World War II iconic imagery so it's no surprise his design reflects this. The base paint apps are camo with crosses, the number 115, and a little ace of spades on the back of the left leg added for detail. I can't look at the toy's face without thinking of Darth Vader and I think this is intentional. It could be said it just references gas masks used in the war, but to me it really has the feel of the Dark Lord's mask adding to the evil nature hinted at and possibly how the bad guys were misunderstood in WWII much like Vader lost his way. Or maybe I drank too much coffee and can see Star Wars in anything if I stare at it long enough.
Lee's design is full of his Urbanites, including the vinyl debut of the much anticipated Mellow! The face of this character is really subtle with hair covering most of the features and a very simple rectangle mouth. The paint used for the hair is matte black. It's a small difference, but it really makes the piece all the better. The left arm is devoted to the Urbanites' resident dog, Inu, saying yum; and the right is made up of Leonard's big stripy head. The back has a hairy, loving beast with two beady eyes that I think would make an excellent tattoo. This is the second most detailed toy of the line and definitely the one sporting the most color passes.
Tado's design is considered by many to be the best of the line. Maybe it's the amount of detail, maybe it's the happiness it gives the viewer, maybe it's the cuteness mixed with a dash of evil, or maybe it's the fact this puppy glows in the dark! It is hard to deny that there is a lot going on with this MAD*L. The face sports an off center frowny face (which is the happiest frowny face I've ever seen), a whale, an upside-down rainbow, a sun, and the words "smile happy live long!" The chest is a mixture of shapes, flowers, a cloud being saying "sausages", and a moonlit night. Who doesn't love sausages? The back claims "we are evil" and the back of the head has a landscape of sorts with a giggling demon. I almost forgot to mention the smiley underwear! Yes, it's true this design is very fun and is applied in all black to contrast the sweet green glow. And it really glows nicely. Most of my toys that glow are a yellow color, but this guy is a nice bright green.
The first run of the Artist Series MAD*Ls sports some big names, some fresh designs, and are well made. With this series, collectors are treated to designs that otherwise would only be available to a select few. That said, these are each limited to 400 so they still are pretty limited. I am really impressed with this series and I think they are a great line for MAD*L collectors as well as a "gateway toy" for collectors who only look for certain artists.
Check out Wheaty Wheat's web site for a look at what's coming from the company as well as some sweet exclusive toys, posters, and more (including a few of the original 20 inch MAD*Ls from last year's show).
These toys are going fast! One of the only places you can still pick these up (besides the bay) is myplasticheart.com.
Check out our handy page containing all our Designer Toy coverage (including a look at the last two series of MAD*Ls).
Article and photographs are ©2006 MillionairePlayboy.com.