Keys. We all use them, and we will continue to need them for the foreseeable future, (at least until biometric recognition systems become the norm and we can get into our house or car by having our retinas scanned or pressing our hand to a sensor plate. Won't that be lovely?) Until then, though, we must resign ourselves to lugging around big lumps of jangly metal on our keychain.
However, clever folks have realised that along with boring old keys we can adorn and personalise our keyrings with a wide range of useful, idiosyncratic and downright funky additions which give us a little spark of pleasure every time we unlock a door. With this in mind, may we proudly present Qees.
Qees (rhymes with 'keys'- clever, eh?) are 2 & 1/2-inch tall collectable keychain figures. Most of us have collected something at some point in our lives, whether it was stamps, football stickers, Beanie babies or those Wade's Whimsies that grandmothers are so fond of. You may not have noticed, but recently vinyl figures for grown-ups (known as 'Urban Toys' or 'Art Toys') have become extremely fashionable and desirable collector's items among the cognoscenti. The craze started in 1997 when one Michael Lau turned up at the Hong Kong toy fair with an armful of GI Joes he had customised into hip-hop street fashions and things exploded from there.
Initially most popular in Hong Kong and Japan, the craze soon spread to hip young urbanites in Europe and the USA who appreciate the high production values, attention to detail and funky designs of these Urban Toys - leading designers such as Lau, Pete Fowler and Tristan Eaton are now celebrities in their own right. Many of these figures are extremely collectible (early Michael Lau figures have reached $10,000 on eBay!) and Qees are no exception. Many of the rarer examples have already appreciated considerably in value and there is a very healthy market of avid collectors out there.
Each series is produced in strictly limited editions - and once they are sold out they are gone forever. Qees usually come in three basic forms designed by Steven Lee: BearBearQ (a bear with round ears), KitCatQ (a cat with pointy ears) and DoGgyQ (a dog with floppy ears), . BUT, and here is the clever bit, these basic forms are decorated with cutting edge designs from some of the most respected names in the world of graphic design, illustration and art - folks such as Alice Chan, Dalek, Tim Tsui, Kerb, Xiao Ming Lam and Playskewl with whom you are perhaps already familiar. Even if you have never heard of any of them, all you need to know is that Qees look very cool indeed.
New Gold & Silver Metallic Qees:
Pull out the polishing cloths... The latest Qees have just arrived. These very limited edition metallic coated Qees, available in gold or silver, are a must have addition to any Qee collection, or a perfect way to join the craze by picking up a shining example of designer toy goodness.
If you would like to learn more about "art toys", check out the article "The New Cubicle Commandos"