Big Mouth Dunny, 2005


Location: New York, New York
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What makes a toy? Kidrobot, a creator and retailer of limited-edition art toys, defies most traditional definitions. The toys sold at Kidrobot feature urban street trends mixed with creative design and fine art to produce collectible pieces of art. Many Kidrobot toys are designed by world-renowned artists with backgrounds in graffiti, fine art, industrial design, graphic design, illustration, and music. Kidrobot is erasing the boundaries between street culture and art at an affordable cost to people of all ages.

Kidrobot owner Paul Budnitz opened his first store in San Francisco in 2002 and his second in New York’s SoHo in 2003. The business began online, selling small-run designer toys, largely from Japan, by designers such as Michael Lau and Hiraru Iwanaga, who are credited with beginning the urban vinyl-toy movement. Budnitz designed the Kidrobot figure in 2001 and the infamous Dunny figure in 2003 with artist Tristan Eaton. From there, Budnitz began designing, commissioning, and selling designer vinyl toys at a rapid rate, releasing new limited editions continually at his stores and via the Kidrobot Web site.

Often a single form, such as Dunny, will be customized by a number of artists, including Dalek, Huck Gee, Tim Biskup, and graffiti artists Doze Green and Tilt. Issue 44 of Visionaire magazine in 2005 consisted of two sets of five Kidrobot toys. Each is a small rounded figure with arms, designed in front and back by ten leading fashion designers, including Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Louis Dumas Hermès, Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. In 2005, Kidrobot began designing polo shirts sold exclusively at Barneys New York, as well as limited-edition running shoes for Nike. No longer just infiltrating the world of toys, Kidrobot is becoming a lifestyle brand of the future.