MADSAKI & Fellow Toy Collectors Prove the Hobby Isn’t Just for Kids Anymore
When you’re a toy collector, you collect more than just toys — you collect nostalgia.
When you’re a toy collector, you collect more than just toys — you collect nostalgia; a sort of unfiltered excitement, and since collections are often displayed, they can also be works of art. If you’ve ever longed for toys from your childhood to bring back indelible memories of a carefree time, you’re not alone. To celebrate these moments that shaped so many young imaginations, we connected with toy collectors and industry experts to relive their favorite Mattel adventures in a new series called “Creator Stories.” In the first episode, you’ll meet four unique collectors: MADSAKI, Manson Cheung, Kayoko Takahashi, and Rebecca Shipman. They’re exactly the kind of devotees that Mattel Creations is built for — the playmaker’s all-new collaborations platform that’s tapping the most innovative creators of today to create what’s next. For those lucky enough to have been blessed with toys as a kid, many of those toys were tied to cartoon franchises — including Mattel’s game-changing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series. The series helped break the Saturday morning cartoon mold and made the push for weekday afternoons instead, enticing kids to head straight home after school to catch the latest episode.
Japanese-American contemporary artist MADSAKI is known for his irreverent acrylic and spray paint works, but it’s his early connection to Masters of the Universe that’s likely surprising to most. The series helped him learn English and connect to American culture after moving to the United States as a kid. “I remember watching TV, I could understand English, but I couldn’t speak it,” he tells Highsnobiety. “He-Man spoke very beautiful English — he’s like an English teacher to me.” That enduring history culminated in MADSAKI’s very own Mattel collaboration this year featuring a limited-edition range of merch spanning art prints, a collectible He-Man and Battle Cat sculpture, apparel, and more.
He-Man spoke very beautiful English — he’s like an English teacher to me
For Hot Wheels sculptor and collector Manson Cheung, a lifelong obsession with Doc Brown's beloved DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise led him to a two-decade-long career at Mattel. Cheung took his fascination with the car to new heights when he purchased his own DeLorean and practically willed a Hot Wheels version into existence in 2010 after years of failed attempts. Manson is a collector first before anything else who believes working with a new generation of artists and fans across the culture is the future of collecting. “Mattel collaborating with artists is a great thing because you have different creative avenues that will intersect — usually, something great will come out of that,” he says.
Mattel collaborating with artists is a great thing because you have different creative avenues that will intersect — usually, something great will come out of that
It makes sense that as we grow older, the things that brought us joy as children can still have a profound impact on us today — even toys. “I remember playing with stuffed animals when I was a child. There was a stuffed animal that I used to sleep with all the time,” explained Kayoko Takahashi, owner of SPIRAL Toys, a vibrant and eclectic toy store located in Japan’s Harajuku district. “I think it was Snoopy, when I was with it I felt at home.”
I remember playing with stuffed animals when I was a child. There was a stuffed animal that I used to sleep with all the time
When Mattel launched Monster High just over a decade ago, they wanted to create a franchise that championed diversity and inclusion in a relatable way. Inspired by the characters of monster movies and novels, “Monster High is about embracing your taste and your flaws and everything about yourself,” explained lead designer Rebecca Shipman. “As a designer, you can’t help but put your own artistry and your own stamp on it.”
Monster High is about embracing your taste and your flaws and everything about yourself
Watch this video to learn more about these creators and why toys are such a big deal for kids and grown-ups alike.