These Local Toy Designers

Show Us That Toys

Aren't Just for Kids

by Inside Manila Contributor, July 19, 2019 2:00pm

Art by Ahl Mirambel


These Local Toy Designers Show Us That Toys Aren't Just for Kids

by Inside Manila Contributor, July 19, 2019 2:00pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel

Do you remember ordering a Happy Meal for the sole purpose of getting your hands on the free toy? Those were the good ol’ days, weren’t they? When we first think about toys and figurines, we automatically consider them as something that only children play with, since they were a huge part of our own childhood days.

As full (or half) functioning grown-ups, there’s a soft spot for toys in our adult-in-denial hearts. They hold our young and carefree childhood memories with them, while we continue to grow up and favor other things (cue every Toy Story movie ever). 

Along with that, we often wouldn’t associate having or collecting toys as something we could make a profession out of as adults but ToyCon Philippines proved us wrong. At the 2019 ToyCon, we met some of the most passionate toy collectors and designers across the region that made their hobby of collecting toys...into their profession. 


Lu “Messymaru” Sim is a Philippine-based LEGO mech builder who specializes in Japanese style Mecha builds. Mecha centers around giant robots or machines that are controlled by people. Most of Messymaru’s builds are influenced by Japanese Mecha anime and manga that he used to watch and read as a kid. But just like the rest of us, he became interested in other things such as sports, video games, and high school life, and eventually packed up his “toys." Later in 2013 however, he came across an article on Lego Mecha, which quickly gathered his attention and before he knew it, he was digging up his container of old legos and designing his own Lego Mechas.

Messyymaru is also a former Design Professor and a Graphic Designer by profession. He creates, designs and self-publishes his Lego works and instruction manuals as well.

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AL-SPSS_N9 Spessar Rumors have it that both the armor and swords regenerate after sustaining damage making this a reFrame you do not want to encounter. No one knows exactly how this reFrame was made or who made it. Check my website for more info about this build and my other LEGO mecha builds :) Link in my bio You can see more of my LEGO Mech builds over at the following: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest: #LEGO #MOC #legofan #legomoc #legotoys #legostagram #legophoto #legophotography #afol #brick #Mech #Mecha #Robot #machine #レゴ #レゴロボ #メカ #mechwars #mechwars2019

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Happy Garaje 

Happy Garaje is an art and design studio founded by Johanna Velasco-Deutsh and Mark Joseph Deutsch in 2009. Later in 2015, associate artist Karina Cuizon who joined the two. They are based in Cebu and their work can be seen not only on figurines, but also across the fields of graphic design, illustration, gallery work, production design, and picture books. Their works are inspired by people: their fears, hopes, and things they love; heroes and monsters; joy, and madness; hopes and dreams; and even mystical and ethereal things from fictional places. To sum it up, their works have a positive note underlying to them accompanied by childlike wonders. Their toys make us reminiscent of our childhood worry-free days under the Philippine sun. 

Photo by Jace Amodo/Inside Manila


Carlo Rodrigo Cacho akaWetworks is a Filipino artist and designer based in Singapore. His works are known for their edgy stylized and kawaii features. Wetworks’ approach to his designs is inspired by his desire to constantly advance his craft through experimentation and collaboration with other artists and designers. Wetworks plays around with different styles and materials such as mashups of wood and vinyl to bring his characters to life. 

Before becoming an established toy designer and artist, Wetworks graduated with a degree in Fine Arts with a major in Industrial Design in the Philippines; after a decade and a half, he decided to pursue his passion for toy designing, which began with one-off customs and commissioned pieces.

Photo by Jace Amodo/Inside Manila


Since he was a child, Quiccs had immense love and admiration for Japanese Robot Culture and Hip-Hop so it was only natural for his works to be highly influenced by the two. He’s been an independent toy producer since 2012 and even launched his own original and custom designer toys under the brand Hidden Fortress, which is now known globally. Quiccs collaborated with international toy designers from the USA, Hong Kong, and Singapore to come up with Resin, Vinyl and Action Figure versions of his original character designs.

When he isn’t designing toys, Quiccs manages his co-owned commercial design firm Burnwater Design Studios or represents the international Graffiti crews “Zinc Nite Crew," "Three Flare Krew," and the local artist collective “Pilipinas Street Plan."

Photo by Ahl Mirambel/Inside Manila

There is so much more that goes into toy designing than the technicalities. For these designers, there is a certain joy in collecting or designing toys—it manages to scratch an itch that they couldn’t fulfill as kids. Now, they are able to afford or design the toys that they could only dream of when they were younger. Toy designers usually draft up designs influenced by already existing toys but kick it up a notch with the design and features, hence making the possibilities endless. At the end of the day, it’s about being able to share their interest and knowledge through tiny trinkets of their childhood with other people.

Written by Manisha Mirchandani for


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