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May 4, 2015

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Why I Re-Established Our Relationship with Kidrobot

In June of 2013 I pretty much gave up on Kidrobot, and I wrote a long blog post about why I no longer wished to stock their art toys. I'm not even going to delete that post, I still stand behind everything I griped about there.

In a nutshell, here's what I was bitching about (copied directly from old post):
  1. Wholesale accounts could not sell Kidrobot products on eBay.
  2. Wholesale accounts could not sell the Kidrobot blind-boxed items as open-box.
  3. Online retailers only got access to certain designated items. No 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. 
Since I wrote that post, a LOT has changed for Kidrobot:

They closed up a bunch of their famous brick & mortar locations (not sure about the other shops, but I know for a fact that the NYC flagship store was unsustainably expensive to rent each month). This, I'm sure, put them in a better position in terms of cash flow.

A natural result of those closings is that they cut down on their staff/employees. Sad, but another money saver.

They did a number of clearance sales, eliminating much of their overstock and dead stock by selling it at super discounts to both customers and retailers.

They slowed down their new releases temporarily (as far as I can tell).

Most importantly, they were acquired by a company called NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association). The NECA acquisition allowed Kidrobot to stop struggling so hard to pay bills and instead focus on refreshing and revamping of their product lines. From the investors' standpoint, the previous venture capitalists that were backing Kidrobot were able to cash out and exit.

So, Kidrobot went from a company whose direction was almost certainly dictated by non-art-toy-related people (VCs), to a company whose direction is dictated group of people whose sole focus is the creation of awesome collectibles (NECA). Appointing Frank Kozik as Creative Director ensured that the Kidrobot culture/aesthetic would remain firmly within the bounds of what we all expect from them.

That's a lot of changes.

With all those changes, the Kidrobot "illuminati" were able to re-shape the way the company works with retailers. No more will online retailers be considered second-class partners. I had a lengthy conversation with a long-time Kidrobot employee a few months ago which showed me that they were serious about creating a more positive relationship with online retailers like Tenacious Toys. I was thrilled to have that conversation. I am not a person who burns bridges. I always do my best to maintain positive relationships whenever possible, whether it's in my personal life or in business. That's why I chose my words carefully in that blog post in 2013. I wanted to complain loudly so that they heard me, while still remaining as constructive as possible, and I think it paid off.

My recent conversation with the Kidrobot employee revealed that I am now able to purchase ANY Kidrobot product, without limitations. That means we can now stock the cornerstone 8-inch Kidrobot Dunnys once more! Just for reference, the last one they allowed me to buy was the Kozik Redrum 8-inch Dunny in 2006 (so long ago, I had to consult Trampt to figure out what year that was). I can also now stock their "Premium" items like the Kidrobot Black line of figures and other items previously reserved for brick & mortar locations. I am not entirely sure if this is true for ALL other online-only shops. I haven't really asked around (there aren't that many of us left anymore).

To that end, I have placed my first order with Kidrobot in a long, long time: the upcoming Junko Mizuno Violet Soda Lady 8-inch Dunny. I love Junko and this piece looks phenomenal from the randomly leaked images I've seen. I have unhidden our Kidrobot page and added KR back into our Manufacturers menu in preparation.


There were a couple other issues I dealt with in my 2013 blog post that have since become irrelevant: I am no longer ordering blind box toys and low-ticket items from any manufacturer. I looked long and hard at our numbers and decided that it no longer makes financial sense for Tenacious Toys to sell items priced under $40 or $50.


Because of this shift, I no longer care about selling any blind box toys, or opened-blind-box toys. I am not sure whether KR will continue their old practice of providing "free" case exclusive Dunnys to shops that buy cartons of their 3" Dunny series, but it hardly matters to me since I'm not stocking those items.


Furthermore, I no longer wish to give eBay a percentage out of my sales of art toys, so selling Kidrobot toys on eBay is now a moot point for me. I'm slowly dialing back inventory in our eBay shop and removing toy items from it.


Basically, with all the changes that both Kidrobot and Tenacious Toys have gone through in the last 2 years, all my previous concerns and gripes about buying wholesale from Kidrobot have either been addressed to my satisfaction, or been eliminated.


So, onwards and upwards, happy tra-la-la frolicking, hand-in-hand with Kidrobot! Expect us to stock most, if not all, of the 8-inch Kidrobot Dunny releases in the future, plus anything else priced above $40 retail that I think might sell.


There are a TON of really interesting pieces coming down the pipe from Kidrobot. I hear whispers. Get ready!


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