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Dolling it up with vinyl the MEGA way.

Dubai Emirati urban art maker Foo Dog has steered away from the conventional, introducing fully customisable vinyl dolls to the UAE.

The vinyl toys, called MEGA, were introduced at an exhibition held at the Gate Village in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

About 100 artists based in the UAE collaborated to design and customise these dolls, on display from the May 26 to June 26.

"These unique customised toys will be on sale to the public. I ensured that 100 per cent of the profit goes to the artists specifically, as a method of encouragement and appreciation for their dedicated work," said Mohammad Abedeen, owner and co-founder of Foo Dog, a Dubai based company that creates urban customised art.

"There were all kinds of artists who participated; we had illustrators, sculptors, photographers, graphic designers, graffiti artists, videographers, and many more.

"This collaboration introduced many art forms to the public. We had professional artists, student artists and even a visiting artist from Japan, Akinori Oishi who gave a live show of painting a doll during the opening of the exhibition," Abedeen said.

Customising vinyl toys usually attracts more artists, keen on illustrating on a form more liberating than a canvas.

"Vinyl toys can be new modes of expression for the artist, a new way to play. A canvas is very intimidating; the blank wide space can be a little daunting for artists to begin their work on. MEGA is inviting and stimulating for the artist who wishes to create a story," said Abedeen.


He chose an interesting hobby to introduce to the UAE public a hobby he discovered during a school trip to Tokyo.

"As a kid I was obsessed with collecting comics, video games, and of course drawing. I always wished to find a way to combine all these forms in one. During a college trip to Japan I found many designer toys that expressed the street and anime culture of Japan.

"I stuffed my bags with these customised collectables, because I knew there was no way I'd find anything like that here. Designer Toys are huge and have their own exhibitions in the US, Japan, and Europe. But the fad seems to be almost non-existent in the Middle East.

"My goal with this exhibition is to introduce the UAE public to this toy that managed to bring all kinds of artists to collaborate together."

Although the exhibition is proving to be a great success, he confessed how difficult it was to find the proper support in the UAE, especially because the idea of designer toys was not well known.

"I've been said no to a lot of times when I first started designing MEGA two years ago.

"The concept of designer toys in the UAE is alien and not many people realise its importance. This was like a journey of discovering artists, finding gifted people with an appreciation of art.

"Delivering professionalism and steering away from amateur art.

"Hopefully this exhibition will pave the way for future attempts to allow more artists to collaborate on this level.

"I am proud to say that this exhibition may be one of the largest art collaborations, and the first designer toy exhibition in the Middle East," said Abedeen.

Urban Vinyl toys were introduced to the American market by a Hong Kong based designer in the late 1990s, the G.I. Joes that mixed part of their design with hip hop symbols attracted a great fan-base and many enthusiasts of the toy and the art of customising it. The toys brought many different artists together that fused methods of traditional art with pop-culture.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 12, 2010
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