Friday, July 11, 2008

Wii Want More!

written by Errol Veloso
photo by Gwire

The Nintendo Wii console is one of the hottest items out on the market today. It continuously tops the sales charts, and maintains its supremacy over Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3. Despite being released almost two years ago, the Wii is still disappearing off of store shelves making it nearly impossible to get one unless you reserve it in advance. In fact, the demand for Wii's is so high that people have formed online communities that help locate where it’s in stock, and also share tips on getting the best deal.
Your child wants one, and chances are you want one too. It generates worldwide buzz and retail shortages. So, what is it about the Wii that makes it different from any other console?

Until recently, the video game industry has mainly targeted hardcore gamers, alienating many potential players. With the Wii, however, Nintendo is able to market to a wider audience ranging from youths to adults, and even the elderly. The reason behind this is their less intimidating approach to gaming.

1. Controls- Other consoles on the market utilize complex controls and button combinations as opposed to the Wii, where controls are as simple as a wave of the hand. This is possible through the “Wii-mote’s” motion sensing technology allowing for controls that are fun and easy to learn.
2. Content- Along with simple controls, many games for the Wii are designed to be easy to pick up and play. Simple rules and simple game-play help bridge the gap between gamers and non-gamers attracting adults who would not normally play video games. Additionally, games such as Wii Fit help draw in even more consumers through its fun and easy way to stay fit and healthy.
3. Price- At the price of $250, the Wii is substantially cheaper than the Playstation 3 ($399 for the base model). However, Microsoft’s price drop for the Xbox 360 ($279 base model) makes for some formidable competition.

Nintendo’s move to reach out to casual gamers and non-gamers is proving to be highly beneficial not only for the company, but the industry as well. And it seems this video game juggernaut is nowhere near losing steam.

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The World of Urban Vinyl

written by Errol Veloso
Photo by LaertesCTB

There’s a new craze hitting the scene that has got kids and adults alike emptying their pockets and waiting in line for hours. Known as Designer Toys or Urban Vinyl, this new trend can be described as a collision of art and toys; influenced by graffiti, Asian pop art, and skater and sneaker culture. Not to be confused as action figures, these vinyl sculptures act as a canvas for artists ranging from the formally trained to post-graffiti artists.

The origin of this new art genre and collecting craze can be traced to Michael Lau, an artist based in Hong Kong, who created the first vinyl figurines as a promotion for a band in the 90’s. Since then, the designer toy culture has steadily gained interest and grown into a multi-million dollar industry. Consumers consist of a wide variety of collectors including art, comic book, and sneaker enthusiasts. The reason to its success can be attributed to its eclectic blend of art styles, limited numbers, and collectability.

Vinyl Categories

1. Limited Runs- These vinyl toys come in limited runs ranging anywhere from 200-1000 pieces. Several examples of these include the works of artist’s Tilt, Huck Gee, Kaws, and Joe Ledbetter
2. Blind Box/Chase- Blind Box Vinyl toys usually come 2-3 inches in height with a set of twelve or more figures randomly packaged; percentage rates for each figure (ex. 1/48) are shown on the packaging. Collectors are attracted to this type of designer toy because of the excitement involved with the random nature of this vinyl; and also the chance to land an ultra rare piece known as “chases.” The Dunny series is among the more popular pieces for this category.
3. Customs- Several urban vinyl companies provide blank vinyl pieces available for customization. One example is Kidrobot’s Munny, a blank figure boxed with accessories.

The Hunt

photo by merfam

Collectors are completely rabid for these vinyl toys; often joining online communities, arranging sales, and even hosting trading events at the local vinyl store. Seeking to complete their set, collectors will often pay highly inflated prices. In one instance I received an offer of $250 for a piece I originally paid $8 for.

The world of urban vinyl is an excellent platform in which youth and adults can appreciate art they can relate to, and perhaps encourage a transition into formal art.
For more information on Urban Vinyl, follow the links below. (More info on Urban Vinyl) (A popular Vinyl retailer based in America) (Community news, events, and upcoming releases)

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