Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of the way in which they are produced. Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults. The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s. Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami whose work has been exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Australian designer Nathan Jurevicius's Scarygirl, based on characters from his comic of the same name, and produced in conjunction with Hong Kong company Flyingcat, and former graffiti artist KAWS. Los Angeles based musician and designer Craig Anthony Perkins created the Broken Heart Robot character.
Urban vinyl figures are designed primarily by musicians, DJs, illustrators, and graffiti artists from urban areas in Asia (especially Japan and Hong Kong), North America (especially the United States), and Europe. An offshoot of hip hop and youth-oriented popular culture, urban vinyl often depicts real-life figures from Asian and American culture, particularly artists who perform in a hip-hop or related styles. Two examples are Lau's depiction of the LMF rappers from Hong Kong, and figures based on the members of the virtual electronic band Gorillaz, produced by Jamie Hewlett and made by Kidrobot.
Urban vinyl is commonly designated as either Eastern Vinyl, including anything designed and produced in Asia or Australia, or Western Vinyl, encompassing pieces which are designed and produced in North America, South America, or Europe. Urban vinyl figures have become collectible items. Rare pieces may sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Among all the different types of Urban Vinyl Dolls, there is one called the Urban Vinyl "Gosho" Dolls which are a reinterpretation of the Tradition Japanese Gosho Dolls. This type of dolls originate from Japan of the 17th Century (at times of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the Edo (1603-1867)) . Some of the most typical characteristics of any Urban Vinyl Gosho doll are their traditional over sized head, chubby body and usually a rope that depending the case can mean several things.
This first adaptation of this Traditional Gosho Dolls into the Urban Vinyl Dolls worlds was through a whole series designed by Tokidoki, that decided to introduce them into the collectors houses by including some personal twists and influences such as Street Art and Japanese Tatoo Patterns.
Some of the most Famous Urban Vinyl designers such as Kozik, Tokidoki, Dalek, Craola, Donny Miller, Tara McPherson, Nathan Cabrera, Joe Hahn, Den (FUCT), JC, Plasticgod, etc, have made at least an Urban Vinyl "Gosho" Doll, according to their interpretation of this old and traditional dolls.