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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on December 18th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 41 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 41

"Nerdy before it was hip": NerdsterObscure offers handmade creations made by a nerd, for nerds


NerdsterObscure features handmade “plushies” of favorite characters from the beloved cartoon Adventure Time.

A local artisan managed to slip through the cracks for last week’s Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide, leaving the nerdy/hipster subcultures woefully underrepresented in the guide. One local has tailored her Etsy shop and products to appeal to the Jedi knights, Vulcans, and Bronies among us.

“Honestly, I thought it would just be moms out looking to get their kids a toy they couldn’t buy at Target,” Mandy Wheeler, owner of Etsy shop NerdsterObscure, wrote in an e-mail interview, “but shockingly enough the buyers I’ve seen are very vast.”

Wheeler began by making her plushy-style characters for friends and family, but expanded to them sell online in hopes of offering cute characters that aren’t found in stores. Being a self-described nerd, she hoped to fill the niche for fans of nerdy or obscure shows.

“I was sitting around trying to think of a good name and I kept playing with the idea of combining nerd with hipster,” she wrote. “Seeing as being a nerd is now the ‘hip’ thing to do … ‘Nerdster’ was born. ‘Obscure’ followed because my plan for the future is to eventually branch out and dive deeper into the nerd culture.”

The cartoon Adventure Time largely inspired Wheeler to make her current merchandise. The show features a myriad of anthropomorphic characters, from talking candy to smiling video game systems. Two of these characters have been very popular, Wheeler said.

“Everyone [who] watched Adventure Time loves Beemo and Peppermint Butler,” Wheeler wrote. “Why wouldn’t they want to make one a part of their home by getting their very own hand-stitched version of those beloved little guys!”

She said her characters are great as not only stuffed animals but also pillows. She uses felt and poly-fill for all of her products. These materials make for a soft and squishy character.

Wheeler’s stitched characters have to meet her detail-oriented scrutiny. “If it’s not perfect, I rip it up and start over,” she wrote.

“Everyone is so name-brand and all about what’s trending,” Wheeler wrote. “I, however, think that we need to start getting back to the mom and pop feel, where we buy to support our neighbors.”

And now supporting lone artisans has never been easier, thanks to the Internet.

“My personal theory is that the only thing better to a ‘hipster’ than buying something brand name with a high ticket price on it is buying something handmade with no name at all,” she wrote. “Why? Because you’ll have it before everyone else, and it was made with warm, hipstery love!”

Wheeler hopes to start making characters from other nerd favorites, no matter how many people already know about them.

“I get inspired by so much it’s ridiculous, and it’s largely to blame for why I don’t already have more of a variety available!” she wrote. “I’m going to be making a line of characters from more well-known things such as Star Wars, Regular Show, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Pokémon, Mario Bros., Disney, and some different video game characters.”

At the end of the day, Wheeler and her work at NerdsterObscure are not about building hipster street credit, but providing a one-of-a-kind, handmade friend for the nerd in all of us.

“It’s a good feeling to know that something you’ve made is making someone else happy,” she wrote.

The NerdsterObscure Etsy shop features Mandy Wheeler’s handmade plush toys. Visit the shop at


Arts Editor Joe Payne is holding out for a Lord of the Rings plushy. Contact him at

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