Thursday, November 16, 2006

toybot studios Toy Vacation!!! Part III: LA Chinatown- Munky King!!!


The last spot to hit in LA Chinatown after you had your fill of Dim Sum at Empress Pavillion and checked out Robocon and Happy Land downstairs is Munky King. Nestled right in the heart of Chinatown on Gin Ling Way, Munky King truly is a homecoming for me. I practically grew up in Chinatown during the 70's and 80's as my parents were active members of the Chinatown community. I can't count the number of times I ran past the storefront where Munky King now resides. Every single Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Moon Festival or any other Chinese holiday, you could catch me running around lighting off firecrackers, eating mooncakes and getting into trouble-usually right in the little plaza in front of Munky King. During high school, we would have our class parties and special events at General Lee's right up the way from Munky King. General Lee's is Chinatown fixture and owned by the family of my best buddy David Lee, Jr.



Munky King Chinatown has soul. You feel the retro vibe right when you walk in. You can almost feel what it was like in that very store 50 years ago. It's hard to explain, so you have to check it out for yourself. This deja vu feeling was re-inforced when I learned that one of the employees is an alumnus of my old high school John Marshall High! Munky King's owner Patrick Lam must have felt the same connection himself. He was using the store as a production location for a media project and afterwards, thought it would be great to keep the spot and open a designer toy store. From the Munky King MySpace Page:


Trickster...Warrior...Revolutionary. Sick of living under the yoke of the Jade Emperor, Monkey King staged a coup against the Kingdom of Heaven using his wits, his cunning and a very big stick. Individuality in the face of conformity is his legacy.


In his honor we built this temple, filling it with toys that embody his rebellious and creative spirit. Cast from the hearts and minds of independent artists from around the world, these "Designer Toys" or "Urban Vinyl Toys" are part of a growing international phenomenon. Originating from Hong Kong, this underground movement now claims designers from around the world. In an age where mega-conglomerates churn out mass-produced disposable hunks of cheap plastic, these limited production-run collectibles are revolutionizing the way people think about toys.





MUNKY KING is the brainchild of Patrick and Chanda Lam who opened this retail store and gallery in November 2003 for people to come and truly appreciate these works of art. Display cases in the shape of towering temple guards hold rare rotocast vinyl collectibles and 12" action figures. Everything from Kubricks and mini-figures to designer plush and original art adorn the main temple chamber. Nestled amongst the art galleries, bars, and cafes of Chinatown, Munky King is part of the renaissance sweeping the area. The first store in SoCal devoted solely to urban vinyl, Los Angeles Times hails Munky King for "launching a more contemporary revolution against conformity - this one aimed at the fiefdoms of mainstream art and mass-produced toys."

The best part about Munky King and Patrick Lam is that they promote up and coming local Chinese American artists like Thomas Han and Luke Cheuh. The crazy talented East Side boy Thomas Han will be coming out with his new Pushers hopefully very soon. We are also very excited Luke Chueh's much anticipated "Possession" figure base on his amazing artwork seen here below.





Unknown said...

this is my DIY Thomas Han toy by FOOX.

Unknown said...

Actually, sorry to post twice in a row, but I finally got the pictures all of them up online and you can see them here instead:

these are the images of the THOMAS HAN DIY toy I painted for Munky King (Plex). I have spent an inordinate amount of time shading and blending and well I am very happy with the result. I hope you likethe pics.


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