WatchParts to Astonish! Dan Tanenbaum’s Watch Parts Dunnys

The dichotomy of Dan Tanenbaum‘s life is obvious. When this self-proclaimed “technology geek” isn’t operating his internet companies, he’s in his workshop carefully constructing assemblages out of antique watch parts. Having built up a reputation since 2010 under the guise Watch Parts Motorcycles, Tanenbaum’s art pieces have manifested primarily as miniature motorcycles carefully crafted out of vintage timepiece components, like The Stop Motion Chopper (2016) pictured below.
But this Canadian artist’s career took a turn in the Summer of 2016 when an old friend contacted him with a request. The old friend was David Schlesinger, the principle behind the Corner 12 artist management group and Tanenbaum’s college roommate from 25 years past. The request was simply for Tanenbaum to apply his steampunk-inspired style to a designer toy movement form, specifically the Dunny.
Watch Parts Motorcycles' First Watch Parts DunnyTanenbaum immediately accepted the challenge, which, as he describes in an interview with Kidrobot, was “to transform an otherwise soft and light character into something heavy metal and futuristic looking.”1Custom Spotlight: Dan Tanenbaum and the Watch Parts Series“. Posted on (Boulder, Colorado: Kidrobot, Inc., 20 Feb. 2017). Upon completing his first hand-modified Dunny form, the original Watch Parts Dunny (2016) that is pictured to the right, Schlesinger was convinced these would be well-received by collectors worldwide and encouraged Tanenbaum to create more, which he embarked on doing.
With one of his hand-modified Dunny figures taking upwards — and sometimes over — 50 hours to create, Tanenbaum explains the complexity of his process by likening it to “putting together a puzzle with no matching pieces and no map to get to the final product”, the true difficulty being to ensure that “all the pieces flow into each other making a cohesive creation”.2Custom Spotlight: Dan Tanenbaum and the Watch Parts Series“. Posted on (Boulder, Colorado: Kidrobot, Inc., 20 Feb. 2017). But his hard work, as Schlesinger predicted, paid off; a trio of Tanenbaum’s Watch Parts Dunnys in differing sizes were offered through Rotofugi near the end of October in 2016.
Becoming represented by his old friend Schlesinger’s Corner 12 agency, Tanenbaum’s involvement in the designer toy movement was just beginning. The manner in which the artist could decorate these vinyl forms were countless, an unlimited number of complex assemblies of gears, winding crowns, watch dials, leather bands, and date wheels at his disposal. And while the average piece is encrusted with hundreds of watch parts, the extremely impressive 8″ Watch Parts Dunny (2016), which is shown in more detail below, took thousands.
As he continued creating new works on the Dunny form, Tanenbaum began evolving reoccuring design elements loosely influenced by popular culture. In this embracing of the pop art nature of designer toys, works by the artist began employing a multitude of sharp points emerging from the head, inspired by the appearance of the otherworldly Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise, as well as pieces adorned with goggle-like eyes, harkening a likeness to the Minions from the Despicable Me films.
But there is one reoccurring element in Tanenbaum’s emerging array that deserves greater examination, one that could’ve been culled from countless examples in television, movies, video games, and even comic books: the insect-like robot. While certainly not a new concept, this juxtaposition of nature’s fragility with the hardness of manmade mechanisms suits Tanenbaum’s style effortlessly, who opts to focus on stinging insects. Employed several times by the artist already, he uses pocket watch movement plates as wings and a pocket watch hand for a stinger, as can be seen in the below-pictured The Wasp (2016).
As Tanenbaum’s Watch Parts Motorcycles identity is still emerging within the designer toy movement, the artist was granted quite the boon when Kidrobot — the producers of the Dunny form — requested to offer directly a variety of his one-of-a-kind pieces. Being made available to collectors on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 through, the eight unique works of Tanenbaum’s being offered are pictured below.

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1, 2. Custom Spotlight: Dan Tanenbaum and the Watch Parts Series“. Posted on (Boulder, Colorado: Kidrobot, Inc., 20 Feb. 2017).
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