Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kid Hunter by Bounty Hunter

Now we take it to where it all began. The whole designer toy craze that we all know and love now was started with this figure: Kid Hunter by Bounty Hunter!

Bounty Hunter started in 1995 in the Harajuku district of Tokyo as a store with a punk sensibility selling various things from clothing to older toys that owner Hikaru Iwanaga would pick up on frequent trips to the United States (Spawn toys, Star Wars, old cereal mascots...). Iwanaga says that the name Bounty Hunter pays homage to the Star Wars character Boba Fett and also that the name comes from the actual hunting of these things (the bounty).

In the upcoming Toypunks documentary (, Iwanaga talks about discovering toys and punk rock music when he was growing up, comparing the two as similar experiences. Be it a talking GI Joe or the Sex Pistols, it all blew him away. He was very interested in the punk rock music and lifestyle as well as the American commercial culture such as cereal mascots.

As the shop expanded, they began to make their own shirts and toys. Friends would help the cause, and eventually in 1997 a character from a tshirt was made into what would be the first designer vinyl. Now famous A Bathing Ape designer Skatething developed the Kid Hunter character... sort of a punk rock kid version of Captain Crunch... and an excellent combination of Iwanaga's passions. He wanted to make a toy that was round like Snoopy as opposed to the harsh lines of McFarlane's Spawn toys that were so popular in the late 90s.

"One only has to see how the character is the embodiment of the Bounty Hunter aesthetic; a combination of a nod to the vinyl figures of American cereal characters and the kitschiness that represents, with the unsettling evil imagery and air of dissent that the punk cultivates. When Kid Hunter was released in 1997 the designer vinyl scene had begun."

Fuck Art. Let's Punk.

Thanks also to:
All Other Toys Suck
This is the article that pushed me over the BxH ledge!

Header //N/A//:
As far as I know, Bounty Hunter toys do not come in designed packaging of any kind. Every one I have seen comes in a clear plastic bag with a big BXH logo and a sticker stapled to the top.

Sculpt //4.5 out of 5//:
I probably can't say much about this figure that has not been said before. Knowing the intent behind this design, I would have to say they nailed it. This toy is the punk rock of toys... when the popular toys of the time were highly detailed sculpts, this toy went against the grain completely and brought something more simple, stripped down and different to the table. Realism is forgone here for a nicely stylized, pissed off little pirate kid.

The balance on the figure is slightly off because of his giant head, but as long as both arms stay in their original position this is not such an issue. The undersized legs that are unable to be moved adds to the instability.

The seams are all well integrated in the design, with the seam underneath the striped shirt being very well placed. For such a simple figure, the poses that can be obtained are great.

Paint //4 out of 5//:
The paint on this figure is unlike many toys that I will talk about on this blog, but it is just what the figure needs. Clean lines and solid application... bold contrast just as the cartoony cereal mascots it is paying homage to would have been represented with. The mostly black and white approach would apparently guide the color scheme of many Bounty Hunter toys that would follow.

There are some small issues with detail work, particularly on the stringy hair hanging from under the hat, but nothing major. Overall a clean, appropriate paint job.

Coolness //5 out of 5//:
It's the first designer vinyl toy. It's application is well thought out and executed. It's a punk rock pirate with a pot belly.

If this figure were to come out today, I don't know that my feelings about this piece would be what they are, but the fact that it is a little piece of vinyl history really adds to it for me.

It is just a cool toy with a really cool history.

Value //3 out of 5//:
I have no idea how many of these are around now, or how much it cost initially, but now it is pricey on the secondhand market. I would rate it lower on value except for the history and the fact that it is a decade old. I could see the prices of these increasing with the release of the toypunks film in November.

Overall //5 out of 5//:
Positives: An original, attitude, awesome belly

Negatives: Expensive now and will only become moreso, top-heavy

If you are a fan of the current wave of vinyl toys out there, this piece could be a part of your collection and make sense with all of it. Bounty Hunter helped to start the toy lives of Frank Kozik, James Jarvis, and KAWS, and Kid Hunter was the toy that paved the way. Highly recommended.

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