Around 2006, one of my classmates introduced me to the vinyl art toy collection named Dunny. It was started by Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eaton, and produced by Kidrobot. At the time, I was completing my degree in Graphic Design and was instantly hooked. I mean how could you not be? Not only are the toys well designed and visually stunning, Kidrobot has such a great concept around the toy creation that leads to an interesting toy collection.
Dunny asks well-known and successful artists, graffiti painters, designers, etc. to design a given number of vinyl toys. They’re tasked with either flexing their full creative power or to design the toys based around a general theme or concept. They are free to use whatever medium they desire and come in 3-, 8- and 20-inch scales.
Most Dunny’s are sold as a “blind assortment” individually or in cases including 18 and 24 boxes. They’re sealed tightly in the boxes so you never know which toy(s) you are opening. This is what I find really cool about the Dunny series. The blind toys come in limited quantities and thus, some are more rare than others. The package has an image of the Dunny inside usually revealing aspects of the toy but there is one or two super rare Dunny’s where it’s blacked out and you have no clue to what the box contains.
The aim is obviously to collect all of the toys in a series. Sounds pretty standard, right? Except not and this was the aspect that really attracted me to the Dunny series, the Dunny series leads to so many people trading their collectibles. Every time you bought one, you never knew which one you were getting. There are so many different collectibles in the market appealing to different groups, interests, ages, etc. Dunny is just one of many out there.
The store I went to when living in Cape Town, the owner himself would have a bunch of his own collected Dunny’s from the current series, his rule of thumb was if you bought a toy at the store and opened it there, and it turns out it’s a toy you already have, you could then trade it for a toy that you don’t have. It got more intense with people from different parts of the world trading toy extra’s with each other which was crazy. Vinyl Toy collection has since grown in popularity, but for me at the time it felt like this community/family of vinyl toy collectors.