Life is an unpredictable series of events that happens between two required certainties: birth and death. Similarly, a story’s meat unfolds between the beginning and the end, so let’s skip our tale ahead and start in the middle. Let’s assume you already know Brazilian artist Igor Ventura and that I’m a friend of his, or at least that we’re two offline strangers who talk online. Then let’s presume that you also remember my article on Igor’s Pyromaniac Puppet pieces (read it here), which were hand-painted Dunny designs that debuted in the third Most Wanted series. In the aftermath of my write-up, Igor and I realized that the 10th anniversary of the first Most Wanted blind-boxed collection was almost upon us. And through our discussion of how to potentially celebrate, we unknowingly began down a path that would lead to the Kidrobot-produced Exquisite Corpse Dunny series, meaning it all began with a different idea….

The Most Wanted: Legacy Dunny Series

Most Wanted was revolutionary for its time. It was based on the premise that a multi-artist series of hand-painted Dunny pieces could match — or even exceed — the presentation quality of a factory-produced collection. And it proved this, time and time again, throughout its three blind-boxed releases. The best homage, to us, would be to shift these ultra-limited, handmade designs into the realm of proper production pieces from Kidrobot. With the 10th anniversary only two years away, we got to work creating our pitch in July of 2017, Igor’s Red Mutuca Studios co-founder Sergio Mancini rounding out our curatorial triumvirate almost immediately. Over the next two-and-a-half months, more than 100 emails volleyed between our inboxes. What started as a diverse, dozen artist “best of the best” selection mutated into an intimate grouping of six, done to accommodate Kidrobot’s then-apparent preference to mini-series with four or five artists. On October 3rd of 2017, we emailed the pitch pdf to Kidrobot’s Creative Director, Frank Kozik, who politely dismissed it as something he’d “think about.” But all was not lost, as he expressed an interest in a Red Mutuca Studios-designed Dunny mini-series!

Conceiving a Red Mutuca Studios’ Dunny Series

Not being fools, we leaped and latched onto Kozik’s implied opportunity. With our task of selecting artists already done, as an accurate Red Mutuca Studios series would require everyone in the twelve-member collective being involved, we discussed what would make our series special? What would bind all the designs together? Thankfully, Igor suggested a concept from Red Mutuca member David “RunDMB” Bishop: an “Exquisite Corpse Dunny” with removable head and arms as well as split-apart waist, the halves magnetically held together. Functionally inspired by Jesse LeDoux‘s Critter Splitter series, David’s idea was a sculptural version of “picture consequences,” the “mix and match” person-based variant of the surrealist’s exquisite corpse technique. And by using David’s “Exquisite Corpse Dunny” name as the title of our series, a theme of boldly graphic renditions of death seemed appropriate. As Jim Freckingham of Robotics Industries had already prototyped David’s modular design, we proposed our series as a collection of resin-cast, hand-painted pieces for Kidrobot.com. Kozik responded by greenlighting a factory-produced mini-series based on the concept.

The Exquisite Corpse Dunny Series Takes Form

With 2017’s end looming, our timetable only granted us a few months to deliver production-ready designs. Wasting no time, we contacted the Red Mutuca members with our news, informing them of the mini-series’ premise. Yes, we told them, every artist would have a single design, which we’d choose out each person’s submission of five ideas. And no, we warned, no one would have uniquely sculpted parts or accessories, as the entire production budget went into creating this wholly new Dunny form. After everyone accepted our invitation, and we’d received their submissions, we — the curators — embarked on a heated debate to choose each artist’s design that worked best within the theme, the interchangeable functionality, and the appearance of the whole series together. But amidst our disagreements, a new idea emerged: Walter “Chauskoskis” Jacott‘s Seppuku design included the associated artist card as an under-the-foot display piece. A brilliant replacement for the lack of accessories, we immediately knew that everyone should similarly further their design’s narrative by employing artist cards as dioramic elements.

In the meantime, the team at Kidrobot had expertly re-engineered David’s “evolved” Dunny design, adding a magnetic joiner to the neck area — allowing the head to swivel 360° — and a lip to the waist to prevent mid-body movement. At this point, the Exquisite Corpse Dunny was slated to be cast in hard ABS plastic with easily removable arms, two facets that ultimately changed, but that was the state of things as everyone polished their turnaround submissions. Once we delivered all the art to Kidrobot, we received what I recall being our only “no” from them. While confines and limitations existed, Kidrobot’s team always helped us to brainstorm workarounds, the sole exception being our proposal to include an ultra-rare blank Exquisite Corpse Dunny as an embodiment of our tagline, “Collect the Dunnys, Become the Artist.” We wanted to offer lucky individuals the chance to decorate the form themselves, but this was nixed for a perfectly understandable reason: that a first-time buyer might not appreciate this and, in fact, potentially feel ripped off. Once it was explained to us, it was impossible to disagree with their logic; they had, ultimately, ensured the everyman’s ability to enjoy our series.

Red Mutuca Studios’ Exquisite Corpse Dunny Series

Until January of 2020, all we’d seen were photographs of final engineering pilots, pre-production samples that are lovingly known as T1 and T2 (and so forth), these iterations having been made in advance to correct any decoration errors. But after my complete set arrived, I was so gleefully enraptured with their mix-and-match functionality that I didn’t immediately notice several changes. These weren’t cast in hard ABS plastic, they were made from the more-standard PVC (or “vinyl”), which — I have to admit — feels more tactilely pleasant in my hands. Due to this shift in mediums, presumably, the arms require a hearty tug to be dislodged, to the point that most probably won’t do it. And, lastly, the artist cards were accidentally dropped from the product package, an oversight that Kidrobot graciously is correcting by offering them as free, printable digital downloads in the near future. But, ultimately, these weren’t big deals as they didn’t disrupt the heart of our series: the interchangeability.

Ultimately, our Exquisite Corpse Dunny series is about giving you control. In an age that touts how everyone is an artist, we’re giving everyone — even the most artistically uninclined — the chance to create their own unique combinations. From simply swapping parts around to stacking things in strange ways, you’re the one that’s in charge. Heck, if you even want to display the pieces “as is” straight out of the box, then that’s your choice. “Collect the Dunnys, Become the Artist” is more than a tagline, its a call to action. Now, go forth and create.

Click Here to Acquire the Exquisite Corpse Dunny series from Kidrobot, or Click Here to Find a Kidrobot Retailer to Order it from.

For more information on Red Mutuca Studios:
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