Avant-garde art at Assembly Required

The designer toy expo showcases a pop surrealist art form that takes inspiration from the mediums and methods of traditional toy manufacturers.

Colorful silicone figurines stand on a display table at Assembly Required Designer Toy Expo. The designer toys are by Magitarius.

The art pieces, like these by Magitarius, hearken back to childhood.

Photo by JenBen Media, courtesy of Unboxing Asheville

“Toy” isn’t quite the right word. Although the items you’ll see on display at Assembly Required look like toys (similar materials, bright colors, even packaging), they’re actually art. For six years, the designer toy expo has showcased these pop surrealist pieces for artists, collectors, and appreciative observers alike.

Designer, bootleg, or art toys take the methods and mediums of commercial toy manufacturers and turn them into handmade sculptures. The form has its roots in the mass production of toys in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and the marketing that was directed at kids — artists pay tribute to this cultural shift that they experienced in childhood while rejecting its commercial nature.

Interested in seeing that commentary come to life? Get your expo tickets for Saturday, Feb. 3 + Sunday, Feb. 4 at The Grey Eagle. You can also join the kickoff party at DSSOLVR on Friday, Feb. 2, 8-10 p.m., or the after party at Citizen Vinyl on Saturday at 8 p.m.