Suwappu Gives Objects Personalities Through AR

For the most part, it seems like the vinyl blindbox toy scene has stagnated, marked by a proliferation of cheap knockoffs found in convenience stores, and an end of the initial love affair people had for Kid Robot and similar brands.  While still popular, it seems that if the trend has any chance for survival, it will need a healthy dose of innovation.  The answer may have come with Suwappu, a series of toys designed by Dentsu London, which combine vinyl figurines with Augmented Reality to create an experience beyond just a collectible.  The toys are split into two halves, a top and bottom, with the head containing a characters personality, and the legs containing an environment.  These can be swapped, so that the different characters can interact in different settings.  In addition, the characters interact with one another, and play out their own narratives.

Suwappu is a group of characters that can take lots of different forms. Primarily (or initially), the toys seen in the film – a set of collectible and swappable figures, readable by connected devices, opening up a layer of content. The Suwappu’s head signifies his personality, and his pants signify his environment – the app produces content according to its reading of each half.

Beyond these toys, we think Suwappu is a new kind of content platform, with various exciting social, creative and commercial possibilities.
Our project name for this has been Haitsu. Haitsu is the art of hybrid communications, a made-up idea that we find useful. It’s a little bit philosophical (the belief that combining advertising, content, media and product is the future of communications), and a little bit practical (looking for interesting hybrid clashes, like analogue and digital). Project Haitsu is part of the Making Future Magic series of collaborations.
Dentsu London is hoping to bring the toys to market, and are currently working with a large number of collaborators (including BERG, who we have talked about here on previous occasions).
One of the most intriguing aspects of this project is the autonomous feeling that the characters convey, that by viewing them through a smartphone, you are able to see into their world, where you are watching their personal narratives, almost as a voyeur.  Most other AR toy concepts that I have seen focus more on the user taking a “Master of the Universe” role, where they are control all of the action and content, or at least interacting with it directly, while these seems to be more focused on storytelling, where the user can have an influence, but is not taking center stage.  If you want to get a closer look, and happen to be in New York City, Suwappu will be on display at MoMA through November 7th as part of the Talk to Me exhibition.


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