Bounty Hunter is a Japanese toy design company started and run by Hikaru Iwanaga. The toys from Bounty Hunter have played an instrumental role in the boom of designer toys that started in the 1990s and has spread across the world in the form of licensed, original, and revamped designs.
Bounty Hunter was founded in 1995 by Hikaru Iwanaga and released its first toy in 1997 with the Kid Hunter toy. The company was started as a celebration of both toys and punk culture and was original started with a keen interest in Star Wars (hence the homage to Boba Fett in the company’s name) and other vintage American toys that were imported for sale. The shop name stuck, even as Hikaru started creating and selling his own products.
The original Bounty Hunter shop still remains in the Harajuku District of Tokyo where youth fashion has taken off and driven an increasing interest in the toys Bounty Hunter produces. As the company grew, the variety of products produced by Bounter Hunter increased, with the advent of T-Shirt designs. One of these T-Shirts, with a childlike sailor image known as Kid Hunter (designed by A Bathing Ape head designer Skatething) was the basis for the company’s first toy.
The Bounty Hunter line continued with the development of future vinyl characters in Mickey, Pete, and Julius from Disney fame, as well as SAS, Neighborhood SAS, Sid Vicious, and the 10th Anniversary Boba Fett 100% Kubrik.
Bounty Hunter also contributed to toys created by instrumental members of the vinyl toy scene such as James Jarvis and Frank Kozik. Creations such as Martin for Jarvis and Companion for fashion label favorite Brian Donnelly (aka Kaws) helped make Bounty Hunter a vital part of the burgeoning vinyl toy and kubrik scene throughout Japan and the world.
The Bounty Hunter style is unique in that it took the same basic style of creation that American companies had been using for their toys – the vinyl set and classic kitsch design of toys for Spawn and the like- and combined it with Snoopy style lines in the rounded heads and basic features. Throwing in a good measure of punk style to complement the blend, the toys produced by Bounty Hunter often had a very simple, yet sinister appearance, throwbacks to the roots of comic art and toys with modern blends of punk style and street style.
The toys produced have also helped to launch a series of new companies, such as the newest run by Frank Kozik or Brian Donnelly. The style of design has also gone on to become highly popular in Harajuku fashion and on the most recent craze for vintage style screen t-shirts.