What happened to SKAFFS’ Mai from Wheaty Wheat?

Even veteran designer toy connoisseurs might be hard pressed to recall the works of Luke Feldman, even though one of them was slated for production by the then-venerable Wheaty Wheat Studios. It’s almost as if these pieces never existed, which — to be fair — isn’t too far from the truth.

So who is Luke Feldman?

Perhaps better known by the alias SKAFFS, a name he subsequently used to describe the fantastical world his creations inhabited, this Australian born artist drew attention with his flowing lines, vibrant colors, and whimsical depictions of women. Evolving the recognizable into something otherworldly and distant, Feldman had worked professionally as a multimedia designer since the late ’90s before refocusing himself towards more personal projects around 2006. And 2007, it seemed, would be a break out year for him, as his Who Saved The Moon animation was a finalist at San Diego’s International Independent Film Festival as well as his first designer toy being slated for release from Wheaty Wheat Studios.

And who were Wheaty Wheat Studios?

Originally located in North Hollywood, California, Wheaty Wheat Studios was a prototyping and manufacturing company founded in 2001 by a former sculptor from Walt Disney Imagineering and Gentle Giant Studios, Richard Van Over, and his wife, Debbie Yoon. While involved in the fabrication of official collectibles from movies, television, and comic books, Wheaty Wheat Studios would play a pivotal role in the nascent years of the American designer toy movement, especially known for producing early pieces by Jeremy Madl and Joe Ledbetter. Beyond being a manufacturer, Wheaty Wheat Studios partnered with Ben Goretsky in the 2006 to create the Vinyl Toy Network, a precursor of DesignerCon, and its related Urban Underground Project, a “rogue” designer toy focused event that took place in San Diego the same weekend as Comic-Con International. And it was during 2007’s Urban Underground Project that Wheaty Wheat Studios unveiled an assortment of prototypes for forthcoming pieces, including Misskaffs: Mai.

SKAFFS’ Misskaffs: Mai

Misskaffs: Mai was a perfect embodiment of Feldman’s aesthetic, the piece’s seductive fluidity of form granting an aura of balance to the whole while her shapely closed eyes hinted at intrigue and mystery. But, of course, it is how her meditative pose rested on footless, tendril-like legs that was the most alluring of all, granting a taste of the alien to the overall design. With Feldman in attendance to proudly present the finished prototype, Misskaffs: Mai was seemingly set to be accompanied by a stylized tree piece, an Asian-style lantern hanging from its singular branch. And a placard by the display revealed that Wheaty Wheat Studios intended to not only produce the version shown but already had three additional paint schemes planned for production.
The Misskaffs: Mai form appears to have been inspired by Feldman’s previous Utopia (2006) digital art design, but November of 2007’s Mai print would become the character’s first official public offering. A little over a year later, with the vinyl sculpture still unreleased, Feldman teased an upcoming children’s book collaboration, Chaff n’ Skaffs: Mai and the Lost Moskivvy, for which he’d reappropriated the Mai name, the character bearing only a slight resemblance to Misskaffs: Mai. But, in July of 2009, IdN Extra 01: Cut&Paste featured Feldman and his Misskaffs: Mai project, being published the same year that Wheaty Wheat Studios closed their doors.

What happened to Wheaty Wheat Studios?

The downfall of Wheaty Wheat Studios began with a legal battle, one regarding Joe Ledbetter having his Mr. Bunny design produced by Kidrobot on a Dunny release in 2006. Ledbetter’s character, contractually, was under exclusive license to Wheaty Wheat Studios and its inclusion in the Dunny Los Angeles series violated that. While the matter was resolved early in that year, Ledbetter ceased having his popular designs manufactured by the company that same year. Further complicating this time frame for them, Wheaty Wheat Studios had difficulty finding a Chinese factory they were satisfied with, resulting in few productions seeing completion. By the following year, Jeremy Madl assumed control of his MAD*L creation, choosing to no longer partner with Wheaty Wheat Studios. And while the company had several pieces slated for release after this point, including Feldman’s Misskaffs: Mai, only a few were fully realized. In March of 2009, Wheaty Wheat Studios announced a warehouse liquidation sale, the business closing up for good later that year. And the Misskaffs: Mai remained solely in prototype form, never seeing proper production, but this didn’t mean that Feldman would go without a designer toy release in his oeuvre.


In February of 2008, Feldman revealed his sculptural creation Maiko, a simple geisha girl form that omitted his signature surreal elements yet exemplified his Asian aesthetic. First displayed in painted prototype form at the Cartoon Art Museum‘s WonderCon booth on February 24th, 2008, it was exhibited with real wood hair sticks and a blank face, though days later photos emerged of the piece with sparse facial details. Made in two parts, allowing the head to rotate, this piece was produced in resin by Dodgrr, an anonymous “bootleg” artist who specialized in transparent castings.
Thus, playing up to Dodgrr’s strengths, Maiko Series 1, Clear Resin was announced. Expected to be issued in December of 2008 but delayed until January 12th, 2009, this was limited to an edition of 10 pieces, each packaged in a numbered box featuring an original illustration by Feldman. Regardless of the “Series 1” denotation implying otherwise, no further Maiko designs would be released. And it seems unlikely that they ever will, since Feldman abandoned his role as creator of the SKAFFS world for that of pongo co-founder in 2012.

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