Friday, September 24, 2010

REVIEW: Onell Design's Glyos Founder Series

The Glyos System is a range of 2.75 inch figures available exclusively online from their designers/creators/producers, Onell Design

Onell Design has been producing and selling Glyos figures from their official site since 2007 and over the last three years the line has grown to include new characters, limited-run custom variants and, most recently, vehicles.

Today I'm going to be looking at the reissued figures from that first wave of toys, the Founder Series.

The Glyos System
Glyos figures are an oddity: in a world of extreme poseability and one-off designer vinyls, Onell Design has bucked both trends to create a range of affordable, durable and fun retro figures that seem part Monster in My Pocket, part Microman, part Lego. 

At just under 3'' tall, each figure comes in 13 pieces with 12 points of articulation (neck, 2 x shoulders, 2 x wrists, waist, 2 x hips, 2 x knees and 2 x feet) and is built on the Glyos Joint System, a standard of pop-in/pop-out pieces that allows parts to be interchanged with other Glyos, plus other figures including the Beantown Beanbots and the Outer Space Men from Four Horsemen.  The idea is to combine these parts to create new figures, and even vehicles. 

It's an intriguing system and one that's certainly a lot of fun to play with.  Yes, that's right - I said ''play with.''  Unlike most other collectable figures, Glyos toys are pleasingly chunky and robust, being more than capable of withstanding a good solid play session and more

The first wave of Glyos is known as the Founders, a nice nod to the Microman series of figures.  It's obvious that Takara's classic toy line is an influence on Onell Design's sensibilities, for as well as sharing their name the Founders also come in their own windowed-box resembling the Spy Magician packaging and inside each box is a 2-page ''catarog''-style preview sheet of the range.

And although it may seem a minor point, it's nice to have a box that can simply be opened and resealed without damaging it. 

Pheyden and Exelis
 ''Hailing from the fabled Edge of Space in the mysterious Glyos System, Space Traveler Pheyden journeys through endless dimensions securing the order of the infinite universe and patching holes in the fabric of time.''

Despite his skull-like face, Pheyden is the ''core hero'' of the Glyos range and - to me - seems to be a nod/analog to the Micronauts' Time Traveler. 

''Rebelling against his tyrannical creators in the Glyos System, prototype Sincroid Exellis battles for the freedom of his mechanical brethren as leader of the Lost Sincroid Revolution.''

The Sincroids are - from what I can gather - a range of cyborgs/androids of which Exellis is one such being. Exellis models (given all the colour variants, I assume it's a line of Sincroids rather than an individual) appear to have some form of programming defect that has led them to rebel against their creators.  That's my take on it, anyway!

This illustrates one of the other things I like about the philosophy behind Glyos toys: the fact that both the packaging and Onell Design's Passcode section of their site flesh-out the story with enough tantalising details regarding each figure's background without simply telling a linear narrative or defining every detail of the characters.  Again, this is reminiscent of older toy lines that weren't supported by their own Saturday morning cartoon show or movie.

Enough about the background.  What about the figures themselves?

The joints are a simple pop-in/out peg system,  allowing rotation on a single plane.  Initially this may seem restrictive, but Onell Design has worked within these limitations to compensate for this.  The legs, for example, are cast with a bent knee, meaning rotating the joint doesn't simply twist the lower leg around the vertical - it affects the stance of the figure.  Play with them for a few minutes and you'll see that although you'll never reach Microman-style level of  posesability it's possible to convey action and emotion within the limits of their movement.

(It should be noted that Onell Design recently revealed a new set of rotator joints that will be going into production soon.)

Both Pheyden and Exellis models share some common parts - namely their hands, feet, legs and arms.  However, their groins, torsos and heads are unique to each.  This results in cross-compatability, allowing you to switch parts to create your own colour combos and custom figures.

Although you may find it difficult to find them now, Onell Design has released numerous colour-variants of each figure.

The standard of painting is fine for what's needed, although - again as stated on the site - it may be a little rough and ready.  It's perfectly possible - should you so wish - to clean them up or even repaint them (customisation is a big part of the Glyos philosophy.)

Dark washes are used to add accents to the various grooves and channels on each figure's parts and in the case of my ''Standard'' Pheyden and ''Aves'' Exellis, the eyes are also painted.  The chunkiness of the physical design is translated to the colour-schemes, with the Founders using a two-colour motif.  Grab a few for yourself and you can start creating your own colour combos, too.

Although the figures don't come with any spare parts or extras, what is worth noting is the generosity of Onell Design.  I've placed two orders now and both have come with bonus figures I didn't order.  Don't bank on it or expect anything beyond your order, but don't be surprised if you do find an extra little bonus in there.

As Onell Design are an online-only company, I'm including a quick comment on their service.  Due to being a smaller company, you may have to wait a little longer for your order - both my orders took around 10 days to pack and process.  My first package arrived four days after processing.  My second arrived the day after I received my shipping confirmation.  My advice is to be patient - they are worth the wait!

It's also worth noting the personal-level of service from Onell Design: as well as shipping with a bonus gift, my order receipts were hand-signed with a little ''thank you'' from the Onell crew.  It's only a small touch but it adds a level of appreciation you don't receive from bigger companies.

Final Thoughts
Glyos figures aren't for everybody.  If you're looking for a highly poseable, ultra-detailed line of collector toys, look elsewhere.  But if you're a fan of 1970s/80s toys like M.U.S.C.L.E. Men, Monster in My Pocket, Microman/Micronauts and Lego, you'll ''get'' what the line is about: toys designed to be not just collected, but also used to ignite the imagination and - yes - played with.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreA-

Image Gallery


You can find out more about Glyos figures, their universe and Onell Design, plus view galleries, read their blog and order your own toys on the official Onell Design website.


  1. Great review! The Glyos line is something all toy fans should add to their collections.

  2. Thanks Sinchicken. I just placed an order for some additional Gendone Buildman figures and - once they arrive - I'll be doing a review on them in the near future.


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