Soft vinyl toys are inspired by numerous cultural references.
Sofubi often falls into two distinct sylised categories – grotesque and kawaii.
🦖 The likes of Godzilla, Ultraman, Space Amoeba and Gamera have historically influenced soft vinyl toys and continue to do so. The detailed, exadurated and often colourful characters lend themselves to create stunning pieces, made possible by the slush casting process.
📜 Legendary creatures and urban legends.
👁 Strange and un-nerving characters from horror.
🤡 Large corporations and brands produced soft vinyl toys depicting company mascots – usually as giveaways. Notable mascots include SONY Boy (Atchan), the famous Kewpie baby, Sato-chan & Satoko-chan – the friendly Sato Pharmaceuticals pink elephants and the straight-cut Masumasu-kun who can be found in post offices accross Japan.
🤖 Independant artists and collectives are increasingly designing, developing and even manufacturing their own original characters. Notable original characters include Bounty Hunter's "Skull Kun", Brian Flynn's "Mummy Boy" and Retroband's "MEAT".
🦊 Foxes, Cats and Bunnies are commonly created in Sofubi form (to name a few!) and often come in bright colourways, usually favoured in translucent and glitter vinyl.
💖 Kawaii, the culture of cuteness in Japan has a huge influence on sofubi toys.