Regier creates what look like vintage toys from the 1950s, complete with accessories and their original boxes. The detail in both the toys and the graphic design of the boxes makes it feel as if they were fatefully discovered at a thrift store or estate sale. But, in fact, they are meticulously hand-crafted contemporary sculptures, with a subversive sense of humor to boot.
On waist-high shelves are works like the All-American “average” man action figure John Manshaft. Manshaft makes several appearances in the show, each time engaged in either a mundane activity or a manly adventure, such as the Antarctic Action figure, where he is a frigid pale blue, has grown a wilderness beard, and is accompanied by a can of sprayable snow.
One of the more elaborate works is a train set, but upon reading the fine print of the box, it is actually a Man Waiting for the Train Set. This plug-in toy features a single-rail train station and a lone man sitting on a bench. His head wobbles as he turns and looks down the line in anticipation. While humorous at first, this work has a strong Waiting for Godot undercurrent, drawing the viewer to a place where larger, less-childlike questions loom.
And this is what makes Regier’s work brilliant. The disarming nature of a kid’s toy offers an immediate sense of delight and nostalgia. But spend enough time with it and complex questions about American culture, society, and history unfold.