Art Whore

#AWTR – ‘Hints and Spices’ – Kowaiila sofvi – Sydney Skyline series of 5

  • Produced By = Hints and Spices (Australia)
  • Figure Name = Kowaiila
  • Custom By = Hints and Spices
  • Release Details = Kowaiila sofvi – Soft Vinyl Sydney – Sydney Skyline series of 5
  • Material = Sofubi (made in Japan soft vinyl)
  • Country of Production = Japan w/ figure design and custom work done in Australia
  • Height = 9 cm
  • Depth = 3.5 cm
  • Width = 5 cm
  • No of Parts = 2
  • Released = January 2017 at the ‘Soft Vinyl Sydney’ show
  • Sculpt Debut = 2013
  • Release Price = $ AU 65
  • Genre = Sofvi

Read the full review and pics after the jump…

Back Info

The Kowaiila sofvi is designed by Australian based artist Shane Haddy and released under his brand ‘Hints and Spices’. The figure debuted in 2013 and was designed by Shane with oversight from Japanese maker ‘Sunguts’.

This version was from the ‘Soft Vinyl Sydney’ show held in January 2017. For the show, Shane produced 5 Kowaiila, all covered in the Sydney skyline.

And for those who are interested – Shane makes toys under the ‘Hints and Spices’ label as a side hustle. His day job is working as The Senior Technical Officer: Digital Facilities within the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the ‘University of South Australia’! Just a trainspotting fact yeah – but of interest non the less.

The Sculpt

A simple and cute sculpt. Sharp teeth and claws, and covered in fur.

What gives the sculpt that extra ‘oomph’ and wow factor is the details – The perfectly sculpted little claws and padded palms. The cute ears. How it is stamped “bear” on the neck. The maker’s marks stamped on the feet. These all help to push the figure into the world of art and flesh out it’s personality and vibe.

Well done!

The Vinyl

The figure is made out of glow-in-the-dark Japanese sofubi.

… and who doesn’t like a bit of GID action right?

The Custom Work

Simply put? It’s beautiful.

The custom work involves: an initial layer of metallic grey shimmer paint over the GID vinyl, with star and circle shapes left unpainted so as to glow through when in the dark. With an all black depiction of the Sydney city skyline on the bottom half – the Opera House, Centrepoint Tower and other buildings depicted shadow-like against the shimmering sky.

Topping all of this off, is the addition of an intricately painted moon on the face of the figure. Done in contrasting grey and silver.

All these elements combine to create a highly intricate, unique and beautiful custom.

It DOES look like the sky. The Sydney skyline and moon are depicted beautifully. The stars and sky glow. Dear god is this a well thought out and perfectly executed idea!

And it is not something we have seen done before on a toy – a whole city skyline perfectly depicted?!. Damn. We are blown away.

Shane sir – we take our hat off to you!

(Picture below of the figure)


* Can they Stand = Yes
* Can they Sit = No
* Is it Easily Breakable = Not at all – though some of the paint could be scratched off if rubbed against a hard surface such as sandstone.
* Accessories = None

Overall these figures have standard playability. Nothing groundbreaking. But also nothing lacking.

It is hard to get the figure to stand that said… But we will discuss that further later.


The figure has one fairly major flaw – that it is very hard to get it to stand successfully. It can be done, and when you finally do get it to stand, it is stable. But this issue should have been corrected during the initial testing and review phase… Ah well.

Another reminder that the most overlooked part in the art toy scene is quality control.

(All 5 figures in the run, below – pic by ‘Stitchimonsta‘)


The Kowaiila figure had been on our radar for a few years. Mainly due to it being a sofubi designed in Australia (we are bias in that regard). But it wasn’t ever something that interested us. It is too cute. Too…  dear we say it… “girly”. Too clean. Not janky. Not weird. Thus – It’ s not our kinda toy.

That said, when we saw this Sydney Skyline version at the ‘Soft Vinyl Sydney’ show we were stopped in our tracks. We were stunned. Here was custom work of a type we had never seen before. And it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

It is a work of art.

It is a functional toy.

Overall – it’s a beautiful and cute art toy.

We just wish it could stand a bit better!


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