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Posts Tagged ‘Kidrobot’

Talkin’ Toys with Kidrobot Founder Paul Budnitz

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ARTGIANTS4FootDunnyArtist, designer, author, filmmaker, entrepreneur, creator of stunning titanium bikesPaul Budnitz is a man of many talents, but he is best known as the founder of Kidrobot. More than a decade after its founding, the company’s ever-changing family of limited-edition art toys ranges from blind-boxed, collect-them-all figures to a high-gloss uberDunny that stands four feet tall–and will set you back $5,000.

Budnitz returns to his toy design roots with a new twist on the DIY Munnys that remain among Kidrobot’s top sellers: on October 16, Skillshare will launch his “Beautiful Plastic” online class in toy design. We seized the moment to ask Budnitz how he got his start, the first toy he designed, and what toys have caught his eye lately.

How did you get started designing toys?
In 2001 I fell in love with some very early Michael Lau toys that I saw in Hong Kong. And almost simultaneously, discovered that Bounty Hunter was making toys in Tokyo. I thought they were beautiful–a perfect combination of pop-art, design, pop culture–just these amazing little sculptures. Because they were all limited edition, when they sold out they were gone forever. That made them precious. I founded Kidrobot in 2002 to make toys with my friends, mostly street artists and designers and graphic artists.

Do you remember the first toy you ever designed?
I think the first toy was actually Dunny, with Tristan Eaton. I have to credit him with the brilliance of that toy, he is one of the greatest illustrators alive in my opinion. We spent about a year on it (I think) trying to get the design right. The idea was to make it the best canvas possible for other people to draw on. That is why the face is so big and flat and round. It’s also got attitude. We put one foot in front of the other, and cut the shoulders at an angle, so when the head turns in looks a little menacing. It’s still Kidrobot’s most popular toy.

What is your toy design pet peeve?
I left Kidrobot several years ago to work on my bicycle company and do some other things, since I just felt like it was time for me to move on. I love the company, but it is difficult for me to see the direction it has taken. I know that the people over there are working to renew some of the original spark and originality. I encourage them to do so.

To me it’s sad when great things get watered down and become obvious and corporate. Creating magic through design is difficult to maintain!
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Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy

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Hold on to your Dunnys and Munnys, design fans, because Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz is making time in his new life as a maker of beautiful bicycles to guide Smorkin’ Labbit lovers–and anyone else who is interested–through the process of creating a great designer toy. Budnitz has signed on to teach “Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy,” an online course that launches October 16 through Skillshare.

“The goal of the class is to help artists sketch their own toy,” Budnitz tells us. “I talk about the basic history of designer toys, since it’s important to know the medium in which you’re working. There’s also a discussion about appropriation and juxtaposition, two elements of design that are found in most good art (and toys), and some ideas of how to apply this to your own toy.” And of course, he’ll offer plenty of pointers on how to design and draw a toy, with an eye to getting it off the page and into into production.
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Yo Gabba Gabba! Not Just For Kids

Both Print and the NY Times have great stories up about the new Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba! which brings a level of cultural sophistication to children’s television that we haven’t seen since that Pointer Sisters pinball song on Sesame Street. Hosted by Mark Mothersbaugh, with music from The Shins, and something called Biz’s Beat of the Day from–yes, you guessed it–Biz Markie, Yo Gabba Gabba! also features animations by HomestarRunner, Paperrad, the Unibros, and Jesse LeDoux. Paul Frank’s Julius also appears, and the show is produced in partnership with Wildbrain, the same production company that invested in Kidrobot earlier this year. From the Print piece we also have this sweet little nugget of inspiration:

Yo Gabba Gabba!’s co-creator Scott Schultz cites an unlikely influence on the show’s psyched-out aesthetic: Paul Rand. “He was able to use art to tap into the memories of childhood within adults,” says Schultz. “We wanted to give a subtle wink and nod to parents by referencing the past visually, and more importantly, make something fun that parents might be able to join in experiencing with their kids.”