07 Aug 2021

Vinyl and Polystone: All You Need To Know

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES BY DANIL YAD
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle by Danil YAD. Production sample, painted vinyl.

You’ve probably seen the words vinyl and polystone thrown around a lot in the designer toy world. Just by browsing the Mighty Jaxx website, it does not take you long to stumble onto those words.

What is vinyl? And what is polystone? The short of it - different materials used to make the best art toys. Let’s dive deeper and discover more about these materials and how they compare.

What is vinyl?

Vinyl, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a synthetic plastic polymer that is tough and durable. You might have heard that vinyl is the world’s most versatile plastic - used in floorings, even in clothes, and your favorite art toys.

Vinyl Properties

The vinyl material is strong, durable, abrasion, and moisture resistant. These properties make it a great material choice for art toys. These collectibles can make it through the most challenging of shipping handlers unscathed. If a rogue deliveryman tosses your collectible onto your doorstep, chances are the toy will not break. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean we leave anything to chance! At Mighty Jaxx, all of our designer art toys are shipped with an external shipping box and internally protected with foam corners.

Circus Pug Lamp Sample
An unpainted vinyl pre-production sample of Circus Pug Lamp.

How are vinyl toys made?

Vinyl art toys are made in a process called roto casting. This is done by putting a small quantity of plastic into a steel mold and then spinning it very fast so the centrifugal force forces the plastic into the details on the walls of the mold. Roto casting can accommodate complexities such as stiffening ribs, molded inserts, and different surface textures. Paint is then applied onto the vinyl and voila! Your vinyl toy is ready.

When a figure is roto cast the inside of the figure is hollow, making it very lightweight. The benefit of this is that each part is lighter and when put together, it creates a figure that doesn’t break the scales. The flexibility of the material and its weight makes it perfect for action figures as small and simple as the ones you’d find in a Kinder Egg, to the incredibly detailed collectibles of your favorite superheroes.  

Hanami Nyan-go
Hanami Nyan-go from the Nyan Kashi blind box is made of vinyl.

Why do vinyl toys vary in price?

As great as they are for action figures, roto cast vinyl art toys help keep costs down and allow us to bring the world of art toys to a wider variety of people. The cost of making a vinyl toy varies due to factors such as size, details, paint, finishing, and volume. Roto casting helps alleviate a little of this with its lower tooling costs.

This is how high-volume art toys like the Nyan Kashi blind box collection is able to be priced much lower than something like the limited edition Droopy Cat.

What is polystone?

Polystone is made up largely of polyurethane resin mixed with powdered stone additives that give it added weight and its "stone-like" feel. It shares many of the same properties as resin though it is more fragile. 

Keep Me In Your Heart (Spectre Edition) by Matt Bailey 
Pre-production sample of Keep Me In Your Heart (Spectre Edition), made of polystone

The trade-off is that you’ll get a figure that feels and looks a lot more premium than a vinyl toy. While a little bump won’t cause your polystone figure to shatter, drops can be fatal. This is why polystone toys are padded with thick layers of foam in their packaging to protect the collectible during shipping. 

How are polystone collectibles made?

Polystone art toys are made by casting the liquid resin into a silicone mold. A chemical reaction occurs from the mixture that causes it to harden, to remove any bubbles that form during this reaction, the piece is put into a vacuum chamber before it is left to set.

In the video above from Flanagan Creations, recommended by our production team, you can see how a resin figure is cast at home. The general process is similar to making a polystone art toy.

Once cast, the collectible is then sanded down to smoothen out the access points. A wet sand is then done to give the collectible a smoother finish prior to getting painted. Depending on the finish of the piece, a simple paint job might suffice. To achieve a gloss look like on the XXPOSED SpongeBob Squarepants, a gloss coat would also be applied.

Is one better than the other?

If you’re diving into the world of collectible art toys for the first time, chances are you’ll want to get a vinyl toy purely on cost considerations. While some vinyl art toys can be pricey, you can easily find a few great vinyl toys at a lower price point - like the adorable Yolkels by Jason Freeny.

Yolkels by Jason Freeny
Yolkels by Jason Freeny. Vinyl art toy.

The durability of vinyl might also be preferred, especially if you have little ones at home who might knock into your collection. 

It might sound like vinyl is the superior option for art toys but polystone collectibles have their place too. The absence of mold lines and their clean look can give your collection a premium look and feel. Sure you’ll have to baby your collection a little bit more, but for some, the trade-off is completely worth it.

No matter your preference for vinyl or polystone art toys, Mighty Jaxx is home to a wide range of limited edition collectibles made from both materials. Take a look here and get a toy for your collection today!

 


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