Some might describe October 6th of 2011 as a dark day, a metaphorical storm brewing as Kidrobot‘s founder, Paul Budnitz, announced that then-VP Bob Africa would be replacing him as the company’s president. And, early the next year, Budnitz quietly and completely exited the brand that he had built. “Quite honestly”, Budnitz admits, “when I left Kidrobot I was fried. I’d been working 14 hour days, 7 days a week for ten years, and I felt I needed to step back to find my inspiration again, as I was afraid I’d be repeating myself if I stayed on”. Focusing his attention on other innovative projects, like his bespoke Budnitz Bicycles venture and the Ello social network, it seemed unlikely that Budnitz would be returning his creative energy to the designer toy movement. But “suddenly it just felt like it was time”, claims Budnitz, referring to the formation of his new designer toy brand, Superplastic.

But what is Superplastic?

Two days before Christmas morning last year, Superplastic’s Instagram account sprung into life, their debut image being an elegant question mark on a teal backdrop. Invoking a sense of mystery and unlimited possibilities, speculation ran high when it was noted that Huck Gee posted the same picture almost simultaneously, with Gee’s role later confirmed to be the art and production director for Budnitz’s new venture. As a vision of what Superplastic would be was slowly revealed through a series of teasers, it wasn’t until the end of February that the brand’s first designer toy sculptural form became hinted at and its name was revealed to be JANKY.

And while the term “janky” is slang for something of poor quality that was hurriedly assembled, this new work was anything but that. “JANKY took Huck & me eight months to draw and sculpt”, Budnitz recalls, explaining the process as being that “Huck would draw something, and I’d throw it out. Then Huck would draw something else, and I’d throw it out. Repeat. For months”. This lengthy development period was to ensure that the finished piece would “meld his style and mine”, Budnitz discloses, adding that “it had to be perfect, an evolution of the platform [designer] toy”. To achieve this, the design “always had to feel like there was a door open for the artists to do their own thing”, Budnitz explains. This meant that “nothing [on the design] was too specific”, he continues, “except the sneakers”, as “JANKY is kind of a sneaker-obsessed anthropomorph”.

Superplastic’s JANKY Series No.1

“There’s just so much you can do with it”, says Budnitz about JANKY, “and you can’t tell if he’s good or bad, nasty or nice”, allowing these aspects to be explored by the various creators invited to contribute artist-designed decorations for the JANKY Series No.1 collection. With the sculpture set to be produced in twenty limited edition, 3-inch tall JANKY designs that will be randomly sealed in “surprise box” packaging, Budnitz explains that the selection process was simple: “We called a bunch of the greatest artists that we love and admire, and they all said yes”. And this list was indeed impressive, the international array of illustrators, painters, graphic designers, and other creatives representing their aesthetic on the JANKY form including mcbess, Ricardo Cavolo, Bubi Au Yeung, Jason Limon, Pete Fowler, Junko Mizuno, El Grand Chamaco, Huck Gee, TADO, Joe Ledbetter, Sket One, Dolly Oblong, Dalek, Camilla d’Errico, Mark Gmehling, and Jake Parker.
Eschewing from traditional retail methodology, Superplastic’s debut pieces are being offered through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. “We immediately saw crowdfunding as the best way to connect fans and artists, to create experiences and not just sell shit”, Budnitz discloses, adding that “Huck and I are more interested in the crowd than the funding”. Elaborating on this, Budnitz emphasizes how they are “integrating experiences that interact with the art”, especially exploring concepts that “make the experience of getting stuff interesting and fun”. For instance, with this Kickstarter campaign, “we made a bunch of challenges that change the toys everyone gets”, he exclaims. “If fans complete enough challenges, everyone gets a free set of gold dead bunny slippers for their JANKYs”, Budnitz continues, “or extra JANKYs for one cent”.

More of Superplastic on Kickstarter

In addition to JANKY Series No.1, Superplastic are also offering an 8-inch tall SuperJANKY featuring decoration by El Grand Chamaco as well as an unpainted white 4-foot tall Giant JANKY through this initial Kickstarter campaign. “JANKY is a central character for Superplastic”, Budnitz explains, “but there’s a lot more coming”, such as the Pete Fowler designed Maximillian Ca$h limited edition sculpture that is also part of the crowdfunded offerings. And when one considers this is a mere taste of what is planned to come from Superplastic, the future seems promising. “And with so much emphasis on digital stuff over the last decade”, Budnitz concludes that “people are just starving for something real and beautiful they can hold in their hand”. Something like Superplastic; a company that, as Budnitz states, will be “making art that is accessible to just about everyone”.

Click Here to Support Superplastic’s JANKY Series No.1 Campaign on Kickstarter.

For more information on Superplastic:
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