Hong Kong-based artist and toy designer Jim Dreams has a passion for creating chubby characters including one inspired by Jollibee
“Please please please pick me! I ate three Jolly Hotdogs yesterday for good luck.”
That was the email I sent to Toysoul, the Hong Kong toy expo, to get a chance to buy the limited edition Jolly Babi Yellow Mustard edition designed by Jim Dreams and produced by Unbox Industries.
Jolly Babi, a chubby little vinyl toy clearly inspired by Jollibee, is just one of the growing number of characters created by Hong Kong-based artist Jim Chan (known in the toy world as Jim Dreams).
Chan, who used to work in advertising and fashion, told Super, “I always had a passion for illustration and designer toys.”
A few years ago, he joined Unbox Industries as their in-house designer. Unbox Industries company director Dan Willett said, “Jim expressed his creative vision for the Chunk universe and we decided to support his journey.”
Chan says Chunk was “inspired by my friends’ unique character and their carefree, carpe diem lifestyle.”
The original Chunk—an unabashedly portly character—continues to be Chan’s favorite. But a number of others have followed including Fancy, Chunk’s female friend, and Mr. C, a nod to Mr. T.
Why chubby characters? Chan said, “Because chubby characters look fun, bright and bubbly.”
In 2017, Chan was one of the artists featured in T-8’s pop-up event The Hong Kong Combo where they showcased art toys inspired by fast food. “It is an interesting project and humbling opportunity to work with other artists,” Chan said.
Ronald Chunk and Thief Chunk were a highlight of that event and Chan didn’t stop there. He continues adding to his lineup of fast food mascot-inspired Chunks: Nipply Chunk, Candy’s, and the newest—released online just last month and in Philippine stores a few days ago—Mr. Fried Chunk.
Of course, there are the adorable baby Chunks too, which include the Chubbi Chunks in different designs and colorways and the Babi version of the fast food characters—Baby Ronald Chunk, Baby Thief Chunk, Drumstick Babi and our favorite Jolly Babi.
“Jollibee is one of the symbolic fast food chains,” said Chan.
When asked what he usually orders at Jollibee, he said, “Fried chicken, of course.”
Takeout bags and buckets
One of the things collectors love about Chan’s designs is the attention to detail. There’s a lot of care there, down to the packaging. Both Jolly Babis came in little takeout bags, as if you had just grabbed them from your nearest Jollibee store. Mr. Fried Chunk came in a bucket just like the one you get when you buy a lot of chicken from KFC.
On the box of some of Chan’s toys are the words: “How can you resist a Chubbi Chunk? Let a little chunk into your life and let the good times roll.”
It’s true. These toys are pretty hard to resist—they’re super adorable. My growing collection is proof of that.
But there’s so much more to Chan’s toys than cuteness. I asked him if his toys are also a statement on consumption or if I’m reading too much into them. Chan said, “It is an exploration on fast consumption and appearance-related culture. The concept or idea behind the artwork are often neglected.”
Willett said, “Jim really puts a lot of thought into his creations and he is unswayed by trends in the art toy world. He remains true to his vision and I really admire that.”
Jim Dreams doesn’t need to follow trends. His designer toys consistently sell out and they sell out fast. The artist has a lot of fans in different parts of the globe, including the Philippines. In the Philippines, you can find Jim Dreams’ toys at R&G Enterprises, Geek Ph, Hobbiestock Collectibles, Big Boys Toy Store and Bully Boy Collectibles.
“The Philippines has embraced Jim Dreams,” said Willett.
The Jolly Babi, in particular, is a super fast seller. “Yung Jolly Babi, grabe, agawan. It was sold out in a day,” said Kevin Randall Go Lim, owner of R&G Enterprises.
“I am overwhelmed and always thankful for all the support,” Chan said.
Willett added, “Chunk has universal appeal. The character’s relaxed demeanor cleverly engages—dare I say it’s even relatable in some circumstances—with people from all walks of life. We are grateful for the support of collectors all over the world.”
“I love Jim’s character Chunk. It’s cute and I guess I can relate as a chubby kid,” said toy collector Nikko Lim. Lim owns over 20 pieces of Jim Dreams’ creations. “My favorites are Ronald Chunk and the Jolli Babi… I love anything ad icons related.”
There’s more Jim Dreams goodness coming for fans of the artist. Willett said, “Jim and Chunk have a busy year ahead, I expect to see the character develop on platforms outside of the world of toys in the near future.”