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Nostalgia, Creativity Fuel ‘Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show’

Thumbprint Gallery’s pop up art show Tuesday night at Basic Bar/Pizza

Photo credit: Victorio Villa

2BitHack's custom action figures are just one of the highlight's of tonight's pop up art show Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show.

If you ever collected action figures or Japanese toys then here's the perfect art show for you: Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show on Tuesday night at Basic Bar/Pizza.

Victorio Villa once again guest curates Thumbprint Gallery’s pop-up art show Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show.

Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.

Villa's interest in creating a custom toy show began about seven years ago.

"I've always had an interest in toys in general and probably around the '90s, there was a whole custom toy, designer toy thing that came about," Villa recalled. "And I noticed there really wasn't any type of custom toy-art shows happening in San Diego. You can go to L.A., New York, San Francisco and you can find those types of art shows. So. I came up with the idea of actually producing one for San Diego."

He held the first two in Barrio Logan spaced a year apart and then moved downtown for more recent ones, and this will be the second at Basic Bar/Pizza.

The show highlights custom toy designers of all kinds from 2BitHack’s action figures of movie characters like Ducky from "Pretty in Pink" to Patrick Ho's cleverly inspired Sozotron robots.

Photo credit: Victorio Villa

Patrick Ho's Sozotron Robots are just one of the custom toys that will be available for purchase at tonight's Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show.

Although Villa considers himself a painter and sculptor, he does also enjoy some custom toy-making and this year decided to create an experiment in kitbashing.

"It basically just takes an existing model kit and just kind of putting them together and coming up with their own characters, own kind of designs and stuff," Villa said.

People will have the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind toys and maybe indulge in some nostalgia about childhood obsessions. If you can't make the show then you can go to social media where many of these artists sell their work.

"Nowadays, it's mostly social media where artist sells their work," Villa said. "A lot on Instagram. If you are on Instagram just search 'custom toy art,' 'toy designers' and you'd be surprised how many artists there are out there doing this. So mostly Instagram and Facebook are their way of putting their art out there."

The exciting thing about pop-up art shows like the ones Thumbprint Gallery is doing is that they are at places where people don't expect to find art so the gallery is finding a new audience for many of these artists.

"It's pretty rad," Villa said about the venue. "It gives a lot of artists at different levels the opportunity to put their work out there and show it without a formal gallery. With the pop-up shows, it's interesting because there are people that are buying prints and art at the show and it's their first time buying art. Maybe they've never set foot into a gallery before and just happen to be at one of these venues and they're like, 'Oh, that's that's a rad painting.'"

Batteries Not Included: A Custom Toy Show takes place at Basic Bar/Pizza from 7 to 11 p.m., Tuesday.


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Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando.

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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