Friday, December 30, 2005

Joe Ledbetter is Hotter than a Firecat!!!!

So I was down in my hometown of LA for Christmas and while having Dim Sum at Empress Pavillon in Chinatown, I stumbled across this quirky little hipster toy store called Munky King. Munky King is very much in the same vein as Kid Robot featuring Urban Vinyl, mini figures, limited edition artwork, custom toys and figures, T-shirts, etc. Stores like this seem to be popping everywhere as artists are turning to toys as their next art medium. It was behind the counter at Munky King where I first got a glimpse of Joe Ledbetter's Firecat. It was an interesting piece even from afar. It looked like it was a 3D cartoon drawing. I asked the guy: "what is that?!" He said, "oh, that's not for sale - that's Ledbetter's Firecat. They sold out like in the first hour we had them. Only 400 made total."

Joe Ledbetter is a self-taught artist living in LA. You might expect to see his interesting art on a wall somewhere in Santa Monica as grafitti, but he's made quite a name for himself in the art community along with other guys you might know, like Gary Baseman and Tim Biskup. Recently, he released his first two toys: his signature Mr. Bunny in yellow limited to 400 pieces and an ultra-exclusive ice-blue version limited to 100 pieces. He followed this up with his very cool red-hot Firecat in a limited edition of 400 pieces and a super-duper exclusive Icecat version of 100 pieces. I had the benefit of picking Firecat up at Munky King and I have to say, it's a very well-made toy. It's made by those whackos over at Wheaty Wheat Studios. It might be hard to tell, but Ledbetter's toys look like a 3D version of his drawings. They are amazing in their simplicity, yet feature all these cool angles and edges as if Mr. Bunny and Firecat jumped off the page and into your hands.

I did a little research online and apparently everyone has been waiting for this buggers to come out since last June. When they finally did hit the streets for $90 retail, most of them were already sold. A quick search on eBay has Mr. Bunny yellow version going for almost 300% retail at around $275. The Iceblue version will cost you nearly $500. Firecat is going for a bit more reasonable $200, but the Icecat version will cost almost $500 as well. The way I look at it is $200 or even $500 is not a huge amount to pay for a piece of artwork. It is a huge amount to pay for a toy, but not art. It's up to you to decide if it's art or a toy. All I know is I want both Mr. Bunny and Firecat in both versions. I might have to settle for paying $200 for the Firecat on eBay.

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