There was a time not long ago when a handful of giant companies decided what you could see and hear on the TV, the radio, and at the movies. Today, it’s possible for anyone with a computer to produce their own album or movie and distribute it online. It’s routine for someone to have a podcast or publish their own book. A similar revolution has taken place within the toy industry. Small, independent companies can produce their own small batches of toys, unfettered by current trends in the mainstream market.
Much of the indie toy scene revolves around collectible vinyl statues and art toys. These tend to be more eye candy than action figures, and can get very expensive. So while I appreciate the visual artistry of vinyls, I’ve always been more attracted to toys that DO stuff. I’d rather spend some time with a $10 box of Legos than dusting off $200 worth of vinyl zombie cyber-bunnies. So when I found Onell Designs’ Glyos System figures, I flipped. Onell has managed to create an exclusive line of affordable figures and accessories that are just as much fun to play with as they are to collect.
The Glyos universe is set on various alien worlds and populated by robots, aliens, and humanoid characters with names like Pheyden, Buildman, Phaseon, Gobon, and Crayboth. More of the backstory can be uncovered on the Onell Designs’ website in the form of some impressive comics and a series of games that reveal ongoing story details. The basic figures are around 2 3/4″ tall, and are made up of a dozen or more interchangeable parts, allowing for extreme customization.
New figures and accessories are released in limited numbers through the Onell Designs Store page, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. That’s where the collectible nature of these toys becomes apparent. Browsing the Glyos forums, you will find a community of people buying/selling/trading figures and parts, such as limited edition heads, or sought-after color variants.
Smart, smart, smart. The Glyos System is like a Lego set for building custom figures, and it works brilliantly. You can actually design your own unique figures from the ground up that look like they were factory-made, as opposed to a disparate collection of parts. As mentioned above, the basic figures are made up of over a dozen parts, which gives you a head, chest, waist, upper arms, hands, upper legs, lower legs, and feet to work with. And, there’s nothing to stop you from swapping in more parts, parts from other characters new and old, and upgraded joints and hubs available through the Onell store.
Articulation varies from figure to figure and build to build, but generally, the arms and legs swing, while the head, torso, ankles and knees twist. The lack of knee and elbow joints puts a damper on posability, but there’s a solution for that, too. Onell sells “Axis” ball joints that add flexibility wherever you use them.
Glyos figures are built for war…er, play. The plastic feels pretty well indestructible and the joints snap together and apart with a satisfying “pop”. Tight-fitting joints mean the arms and legs stay posed where you put them; they don’t dangle. One thing about the plastic is that it exhibits a certain “new toy” smell that’s pretty strong when it comes out of the bag. I haven’t had mine long enough to know if this ever disappears completely, but it’s not a deal-breaker, just something to be aware of.
Alien and humanoid figures feature tons of detailed, asymmetrical sculpting and organic line work, with the robotic figures being more geometric. A closer look at my Buildman figure revealed that the arms, legs, hands and feet are different from one side of the figure to the other, so you’re not just getting mirror-image pieces. The paint application is good, and the consistent use of the black lines on each part ties all them all together and makes everything more visually compatible. If you hold them right up to your face, you’re bound to find some minor flashing, and some inconsistent paint application, but believe me, it won’t detract from the fun you’ll have building your own custom Glyos figures.
Alright folks, what would you expect to pay for these independently made, small batch, custom toys that are exclusive to one store on Earth? Remember that each figure comes with over a dozen highly detailed pieces! Fifteen dollars? Twenty dollars? NO! The basic figures go for the paltry sum of eight bucks, and they usually come with extra parts and heads.
But, wait, there’s more! My order included a free figure, as well as a free set of extra parts, and from what I’ve seen online, this is not uncommon. The freebies in my order basically offset my shipping charges. You can’t beat that, and it shows you that you’re dealing with a company that appreciates their customers.
The Fun Factor is off the chart with Onell’s Glyos System figures. They’re fun to customize, fun to collect, and fun to obsess over in the forums while waiting for the next figures to drop. What you get for your money is more than toys; you become part of an enthusiastic online community, all participating in the unique greatness of the Glyos System.
Check out everything at OnellDesigns.com, but remember that what’s available in the Store right now isn’t all there is. New stuff will show up every few weeks, and you have to be there when it drops to get the most popular pieces because they do sell out. Check their Blog link for updates related to release dates. That’s part of the fun!