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Court of the Dead

Jul 5, 2013

Featured Product - Kidrobot Dunny 2013

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Dunny Series 2013 invites you to tour the tent, point & wonder, and behold a collection of freaks for the geek you did not know you were. Artists from off the beaten path and the road less traveled lure you to embrace the strange and scary. Featuring 20 designs across 14 artists, each artist applies his or her custom style to bring fantastic, eccentric and sometimes downright frightening designs to homes and shelves throughout the world.


This is a blind boxed series meaning even we do not know what you will get. Each figure stands approximately 3" tall and features designs from the following artists:



The blind boxes are available individually for $9.95 a piece here or you can pick up an entire sealed case of 20 blind boxes for only $199 at the Tenacious Toys website.






Jul 4, 2013

Super Series Sundays Release: Mercury by Mo Abedin

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Mercury by Mo Abedin
 16-inch Resin Mercury by Mo Abedin

A mischievous conqueror, rendered invisible by a veil of speed, he silently scouts the land in search of something in its awakening. Along his way he steals the final gasps of life from his enemies, for everything is arguably his, such is the way of the Deity Mercury, the King of Thieves.

This Sunday, July 7th at noon EST, we will host the U.S. release of Mo Abedin's new 16-inch resin sculpture of Roman god Mercury on our Super Series Sundays page.

Currently Tenacious Toys has the U.S. Exclusive on these figures, which are designed in Dubai by Mo Abedin and produced in the Philippines by Resin Mechanics.

Mercury is limited to 100 pieces total, worldwide, and Tenacious Toys will have access to 10 of those. Each Mercury is lovingly handcrafted and hand painted, made to order. Lead time is 5 weeks.


Mercury is priced at $750.

Follow Mo (via his Foo Dog brand):

Foo Dog Facebook

Foo Dog Twitter
Mercury by Mo Abedin
Mercury by Mo Abedin

Mercury by Mo Abedin

Mercury by Mo Abedin

Jul 3, 2013

Blue Pearl Lonely Yeti Two-Pack On Sale July 4th.

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From JFury's Facebook page:

Blue Pearl yetis go on sell tonight at 9pm est. And since tomorrow is the fourth you will get both a regular size yeti and a micro for 35$ only 10 sets will be available.

Grab them here tomorrow.

-The Highest Fever
@thehighestfever

Featured Product - tokidoki 22-inch Adios Star Pillow

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 OMG it's finally coming! This 22" tall Adios Star Pillow is sure to be a classic tokidoki addition to your bed or sofa. Made from specially crafted super soft fleece, this pillow is perfect for when you just want to kick back and relax. At nearly 2 feet wide, this pillow is not only badass, but practical for laying your head upon. Pick up a couple of them at the Tenacious Toys website for $30 a piece.



Jul 2, 2013

LAST CHANCE! - Dudebox 7.5-inch King Monster by Ron English

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This is your last chance to get your hands on this beautifully designed Dudebox piece from Ron English. Dudebox them selves are already sold out of the piece, but Tenacious Toys still have a few left. Ron has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images, on the street, in museums, in movies, books and on television. Coining the term POPaganda to describe his subversive take on popular culture, in paintings, billboards, sculptures or three-eyed rabbits. Ron English has been credited with the title "The Greatest Living Artist". This 7.5" tall piece is limited to only 300 worldwide and features articulated shoulders. It is available now for only $40 at the Tenacious Toys website.


Jul 1, 2013

SoKo Cat accepting Pre-Orders for her Candy/Caramel Apple Custom Dunny Series

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SoKo Cat reveals her newest custom set Candy/Caramel Apple dunnys. These delicious little rascals will melt your heart and give you cavities at first sight!  Just to be clear, they are not edible, so please don't try to consume them!

Updates to come: the addition of a stick, a bit of detail on the top of the apple, artificial sprinkles/nuts on the candy/caramel coat.

The dunnys are available for pre-order in SoKo Cat's store for $50 and will ship as soon as they are finished. 



If you'd like to know more about SoKo Cat, you can visit her blog, follow her on Instagram, and/or check out her store!



Tenacious Toys interviews Dov Kelemer of DKE about their Suckadelic SUCKLE figures Kickstarter

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So I backed this Kickstarter, of course, but the use of Kickstarter by DKE and Suckadelic as a supplemental funding source intrigued me. So I asked Dov Kelemer (owner of DKE) if I could interview him about it. His responses to my questions were so thorough that I really only asked two questions:
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Sucklord figure
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Sucklord figure


Tenacious Toys: 
Most of us know you as a distributor of art toys and related products. In some ways, this Kickstarter is a very public announcement of your role in toy production. How and when did you get involved in the production end of the industry?

Dov Kelemer: 
There are two issues here really. The first is whether or not it's a conflict of interest for a wholesale distributor to retail items that are sold to stores at wholesale and essentially compete with your customers. Our attitude has always been and still is that if we distribute it that we don't sell it retail. Many other companies do it especially those who are manufacturers but we have with little exception stuck to that. Now we will sell exclusive items meant for retail only at the few conventions we do like Designer Con and San Diego Comic Con. On occasion if there are left overs we will sell them wholesale to stores around the world. We aren't going to throw them out, but those items were meant for retail in the first place.

One could argue that Kickstarter in a sense is like selling retail if you ignore the whole issue of the financing, without which the project might not exist. At least in a case like this, any retailer who buys them at wholesale later on will at least know ahead of time, like with a retail exclusive, that they were previously available and be able to make an informed decision whether they want to carry them or not. It's not as if we sold through a lot of a product at wholesale and then later on decided to sell them retail to try and take away market share from the stores.

The second issue is whether or not it's a conflict for a company like us to manufacture items which could be seen as competing with the 200-300 brands we are in charge of representing. While we have done our best to avoid this over the years, I don't draw as hard a line. From the start we have always encouraged artists and designers to make items that we knew we could sell. We have advanced some money here, pre-sold exclusives there, hooked this guy up with the factory over there. That is part of our job and comes with the territory. If there is money to be made and all we have to do is advance some money to get the product to the states against royalties owed it would be stupid not to take advantage of what is put in front of you. Is that unfair? Maybe to some, but running a successful business is far more important. If we go away a lot of people are going to have a really hard time.

So what happened a couple years ago as the market contracted was that we just couldn't get that many good exclusives to sell at SDCC from the vendors we represented. It's easy to get a new colorway of something old but generally speaking those items don't sell well at shows with so much other competition so it's hard to stick out when there is so much other stimulus distracting you. And why would they give us an exclusive when they could sell it themselves at full price on their site? There are some promotional benefits, but bottom line is, it got tough. So we had to start making our own stuff or stop doing the shows. The expenses were too great and benefits too intangible. So we have done our best to find some artists that we are passionate about like, Mike Egan, Scott Wilkowski, Sucklord and others who frankly not too many people in the beginning were trying to work with when we started with them. So you could say that we are breaking new talent in a way. What you don't see us doing is making 500 pieces of a limited edition vinyl or a blind box series with artists other people are generally working with. We are either doing small handmade artist editions or items that are meant to sell thousands like the S.U.C.K.L.E.  I think it complements what we do as a distributor.
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Gay Empire figure
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Gay Empire figure

TT:
As one of your retailers, I do not personally see any sort of conflict. Frankly it does not matter to me how a line of toys is produced, or who does it. What concerns me, as a businessman, is whether I can make a decent profit when selling them!

As you and I have both seen in recent years, profiting off the sales of art toys has become more difficult. I know I am becoming much more selective in what I stock, for that very reason. It HAS to be special, or I literally won't be able to sell any.

To that end, one thing I have not seen from Suckadelic is a line of tiny mini figures at low price points. He has a big audience, and the SUCKLE figures are (relatively) cheap to buy, so that makes it a great product for my shop.

That's interesting that this whole concept was developed as a response to having cool products for your SDCC booth. Whose idea was it to go the Kickstarter route? And would you consider using KS again in the future for follow-up projects?


Dov:
I would agree with you about how an item is produced not being a conflict, but how a product is distributed is part of the formula for you determining whether it is "special".  Access is key but one way to make it 100% not special would be for DKE to have a booth next to you at NYCC and sell all the same stuff I have sold you in the past. But if it's a popular toy and you are the only one selling it (an "exclusive"), then it is special and customers have to seek you out if they want it. The hard part is for you to anticipate what the customers will want. That's what puts stores out of business. Quite often a store owner will ask me my advice about getting an exclusive and I tell them I can get it made and sell it to you, but then I ask them if they have ever sold 50 or 100 pieces of the same toy before, or have they had experience with that particular artist or brand, and the answer is usually no. I think most retailers have an exclusive horror story to tell where they learned the hard way. We do end up redistributing a lot of unsold exclusives to other stores and the formula generally works out ok. They have an opportunity to get all the hype and glamor of the exclusive, maybe sell half of it and make a profit and then we sell the rest months later and they break even or lose a few dollars. The other stores who then have access are usually pretty pleased.

Profiting from art toys is going to be more diificult for you though as a online only retailer. We really don't want retailers competing on price so for you to get noticed you really have to have a good presence and reputation which can be costly. People have to like you and be happy with your service and really be motivated to come back because more than likely they can get the same thing elsewhere for about the same price. The brick and mortar stores are really the folks on the front lines of the battle though. They are the ones educating the random people who walk in and dont know why this hunk of vinyl is $60 when the comparable item at Toys R US for example is 20% of the price and might talk to you or have articulation. So they have the opportunity to encourage sales and growth as the customer first comes in because his friend told him about this thing called a Dunny, to the time where he comes in looking for something deeper and more meaningful. They also have the advantage of the social interaction the customer is looking for when shopping and if they are smart they are trying to create a sense of community with their base. When a customer comes to your site they pretty much have to know what they want or at least know who you are and what an art toy is.  The down side is their expenses with rent, insurance, staff, stock, etc. You on the other hand have the ability to really run a tight ship if you are savvy.

In general though the designer toy market has contracted quite a bit since the financial meltdown a few years back. In order for the market to grow new people need to come to the hobby all the time to offset the ones that have left due to financial issues, space constraints, lack of interest, whatever. New collectors are needed to buy up the stock on ebay these old collectors are selling otherwise who is going to want the latest releases. So this has had a spiraling effect, down in a bad way. With fewer collectors, manufacturers have a harder time making larger runs of toys for distribution to stores, so the stores have to start risking more, buying exclusives (which as we discussed is risky) or tying up even more money making their own toys. So stores start closing, outreach to new collectors stop, and the artists still need to find a way to make a living. Many artists are figuring out ways to support themselves by making smaller runs of toys and selling them direct to their fan base. While this is amazingly liberating, democratic, and a triumph for DIY culture, these artists also will experience diminishing returns as well. In some cases it only takes 50 hardcore fans with plenty of money to keep some of these artists afloat but eventually collectors will drop out for all the same reasons. That's why I am always pushing artists and manufacturers to make even one run of their toy for distribution to give stores a chance to not only make a little money but to try and expand the market to new collectors.

There are several well known artists that early on did all their own retail and tried to maximize profit on all their toys from day one, and that really worked for them, but when you walk into a store their work was never represented (or not for very long) and that was great for collectibility but bad for outreach. Look at what Frank Kozik did early on. He worked with everyone and for a % of the run in lieu of royalties. So he had product to sell for himself but when you walked into any store there was always a Kozik item on the shelf and at all price points $5-$10 range, $50-100, $200, $2000 even. So not only did that expand his collector base but also anytime some ad exec, producer, or creative went into a store they saw his name and the perception was that this guy must be a star (I mean he is but not more so than some of the other guys) and this got him a load of really lucrative other work while the other guys are still having trouble paying the rent. I am not knocking anyone. Being an artist is a difficult existence and many do what they have to survive. All I am saying is that Frank was fortunate enough to see the big picture and sacrifice some money up front for his greater career goals.

The Sucklord is an example of an artist who has survived making his own handmade toys throughout the years, but the toys are too expensive for most and it's harder for a new collector to know where to start. S.U.C.K.L.E., as you mentioned, are super affordable at $2 each and is a perfect way to get Suckadelic branded items into stores and expand his market, not to mention the crossover with vintage toys we all love so much (well most of us).

The Kickstarter idea was basically the same model borrowed from Ayleen and George from October Toys who used it with great success on OMFG and they have been super supportive answering all my questions for hours on end. Injection molded PVC toys are cheap to produce individually but the tooling is a killer. Designer toys are a small niche market and while we can fund a project with the help of 200 people, in the real world if your tooling is $10,000 and the market is maybe for 10,000 pieces then your cost is a $1 per unit before you have produced anything, paid for sculpting, paid the artist, shipping, packaging. So with no financing your 2" plastic slug of a toy needs to retail for $5!!! That is why all designer toys are so expensive.  If you are able to sell a million green army men and your cost of tooling is the same then it ammortizes to one penny each. Now you can sell a toy retail for .25 or .50 each in huge tubs of 100 figures. So Kickstarter has allowed us with relatively little support to cover those up front costs and frankly for the time being its where most of our projects will start from now on.


 
TT:
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Vectar figure
Suckadelic S.U.C.K.L.E. Vectar figure

That was the most incredibly thorough response I've ever received to an interview question. You literally covered every facet of toy production and the current state of the art toy industry. I have no further questions. Good luck with the Kickstarter, not that you need it!




Readers: back this Kickstarter! They have achieved several of their "stretch goals" which means backers of a certain level ($40) are now getting EVEN more figures for their pledge! The project ends July 16th so you don't have very much longer to get in on it.

Not convinced? Maybe the fine piece of videography below will convince you:



Featured Product - Little Blue Ox by alto x Creo Design

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Designed by Chris Dobson (alto) and produced by Creo Design in Scotland, the Little Ox figures are 3 inches tall and come cast in 2 pieces: head and body. The point of articulation at the figure's neck is held together with strong magnets.



Adding to the professional presentation is the thoughtful packaging: a branded takeout container with nutritional information on the side, secured with twine.


The resin piece stands 3 inches tall and is cast in 2 pieces, held together at neck by magnets. This is a Tenacious Exclusive blue color limited to only 10 pieces worldwide. It is available now for $38 at the Tenacious Toys website. Hit the jump for more photos.

Jun 30, 2013

Harry, A Radioactive Ape By RedMakiToy

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On 26th April 1986, at 01:23, Chernobyl's number 4 nuclear reactor exploded, releasing large quantities of radiation and contaminating an enormous area of the Soviet Union. This forced the government to quickly evacuate the entire human population, but nobody took care of the animals. Two weeks after the disaster, a baby monkey was born in Prypiat's zoo. Radiation must have affected him, for he was evidently different from all of his kind.



Harry is a 6" resin figure with lots of detail, from his radiation gloves to his skull-bearing barrel of toxic waste.  But the really intriguing feature of of this piece is Harry's teeth.  Harry's teeth are made from real bamboo.  Now that's attention to detail.

Harry is available for pre-order now from RedMakiToys and will ship in August.  This a 200 piece limited run.

RedMakiToys is also running a contest to design the packaging for Harry.  Get your design in my July 5th and you could win $100 and Harry figure.



Why I'm Canceling My Wholesale Kidrobot Account [RETRACTED]

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PREFACE, August 2015: Everything below has been retracted and I have decided to once again stock Kidrobot products. See this blog post for more info. -Benny

June 2013:
Last week I had an interesting conversation with a high-level Kidrobot employee regarding their products which I can (or cannot) purchase from them. The end result was that I decided to stop supporting Kidrobot by being one of their retailers. Or, in other words, I asked them to cancel my wholesale account.

I can imagine this statement would inspire a range of responses:
"I'm not surprised," some of you are thinking.
"That's insane" might be a response from die-hard KR collector.
"Who cares?" is probably what many of you are thinking.

See, as a retailer, canceling your wholesale account with a vendor is pointless- you never need to do this. You can keep your account open and just never order. It would have the same effect: no new products from that vendor in your shop.

So what's the point of me doing this, and why am I telling all of you in a blog post?

The act is symbolic. I need to make a statement which shows Kidrobot that their actions over the past 5 years or so have negatively impacted active members of our art toy community.

We were granted a Kidrobot wholesale account just prior to the release of Dunny Series 2. At that time, there were not very many store stocking Kidrobot toys, or art toys in general. The market was wide open, lots of interest from collectors, not much competition for my new business. For several years, Kidrobot was my bread and butter. I sold a whole mess of 3" and 8" Dunnys and the sales of those products allowed me to stock other, less well-known products. It led to my support of emerging brands and emerging toy artists.

Dunnys also acted as a gateway drug for toy collectors just getting into the scene. They could go on the forums, read about how cool everyone is, and figure out which artists to collect. Dunnys led collectors to new artists. I owe a lot to Kidrobot. I think we all do. If you sell art toys, many of your customers started out collecting Dunnys.

Everything was copacetic for a couple years. During 2007 & 2008 I made enough money selling stuff online to allow my wife to stop working for 2 years and attend school to get an advanced degree.

Things changed a little in there somewhere, though. Lots of competition sprouted up and Kidrobot's sales increased dramatically, and they started making decisions about the direction they were heading. I am told that they had numerous high-level meetings about how to control and advance their brand, and the end result was Kidrobot decided to focus on their brick & mortar retailers, giving them an advantage over their online retailers. I assume this is because they felt the online marketplace was diluting their brand, and that it took a lot more dedication to run a brick and mortar. Owners of physical shops have a heavily invested interest in the Kidrobot line. (The sad thing is: so did I.)

And so around that time began a series of retailer rule changes that systematically deprived me of being able to turn a profit on their products:
  1. Wholesale accounts cannot sell Kidrobot products on eBay.
  2. Wholesale accounts cannot sell the Kidrobot blind-boxed items as open-box.
  3. Online retailers only get access to certain designated items. No more sales of 8" Dunnys to online-only retailers.
  4. Brick and mortar retailers granted a free "case exclusive" Dunny to give to buyers of Dunny cases as a reward for their purchase.
Initially as I was thinking about creating this post, I thought I would be focusing on how each one of those rules affected my business, and really how ineffective each one was. But I am not here to judge Kidrobot- these are, after all their products and their business model. We can all agree or disagree on the effectiveness of each of their decisions, but really that's not the point.

The point is: my business was affected negatively.


In speaking to the Kidrobot employee, one who has been there a long time, is extremely friendly and personable, and was genuinely concerned about this issue, it became apparent that he would not be able to change any of these retailer rules, and that my own personal experience with my shop's diminishing KR sales was in fact the eggs that broke when Kidrobot made the omelet.

Translation: "Sorry, dude. I wish I could help you but the rules are the rules."

That's fine. I had a feeling he'd say that, and I knew what my response would be: to cancel my wholesale account.

I got into selling art toys as a collector in 2004. We started on eBay. I knew nothing about building a website, branding, accounting, fulfillment, sales, html or anything a normal businessman would know. I learned everything on my own. I started a (shitty) website to direct my eBay customers to and eventually 98% of my products left eBay and were sold instead on TenaciousToys.com.

I live in Manhattan. Rent is extremely high here. So while I have been dreaming of opening a storefront shop here, I can't afford it. $2500/month rent minimum, plus other expenses, means it'd cost me $3500/month just to have it open. Due to the sometimes not-so-great margins on art toys, I'd have to make $126K in sales per year just to BREAK EVEN. Without being too specific here in public, I feel comfortable telling you that I have only made sales like that in one year of my 8 years in business, and that was a year when I could sell whatever KR product I wanted, wherever I wanted.

My point is that I am, in fact, fully invested in the art toy business, at least as much as any other shop out there, brick-and-mortar or otherwise. My own personal feeling is that I should be given an equal opportunity as any other Kidrobot retailer to try to make a profit off of their products. Kidrobot feels otherwise.

So in these 8 years, as I have transitioned from an art toy fan into a businessman who sells art toys, I have become much more aware of watching my bottom line. And when I find that a product line is simply not profitable, no matter how much I like it, I cannot keep selling it. I've abandoned dozens of product lines over the years. Kidrobot just happens to be the biggest, most obvious, most pivotal of these. I didn't write any blog posts about the others because it wouldn't have mattered.

But you, as an art toy collector, or a shop owner, should know what I'm doing, how this situation has affected Tenacious Toys.

I have noticed a decline in sales of Kidrobot products for the past 4-5 years. It's been steady. Every rule change forced my KR sales down. It became intolerable to me when I received my shipment of the 2013 Dunnys and did not sell ANY to my regular customers. When I complained about this on Facebook, two artists took pity on me and bought a few blind boxes. That, to me, is just sad, and it indicates to me that the Kidrobot product line isn't a safe bet anymore like it used to be.

This year I began selling hand-made custom and resin mini series on my site, a schedule which I've branded "Super Series Sundays." Today I released a resin figure called "Little Ox" which was made in Scotland by Creo Design. Several of my Super Series Sundays releases have sold out. This is what I want and need as a businessman- special, exclusive items that can only be found on my website. I cannot pay money up front to a company whose products do not sell on my site.

As a businessman, I had to make what my dad calls "a command decision" and so I did.


I still do have Kidrobot products in stock (2013 Dunnys still haven't sold!) but as I phase these out, they will not be restocked.

To my customers: I am sorry, but in the future you will have to purchase Kidrobot products elsewhere. There are tons of other great retailers that sell Dunnys.

To the other shop owners: Congratulations. I just reduced your competition by one.

To Kidrobot: Sayonara. It's been fun. Good luck.

To the toy collecting community: I am honestly not sure how all of you will take this. I'm too close to the issue to look at it objectively. But no matter how you feel, leave a comment about it under this blog post. I promise to publish all of them, whether you agree or disagree with me.