Wendigo Toys’ Balloon Dunny

In the beginning, she sought him out, and doing so changed the course of both their destinies. At the time, Andrew Martin was already an accomplished sculptor, his Monster Caesar Studios moniker having received well-deserved attention for its Zombie Trophy and Innsmouth Look pieces. But it was his skill at resin casting that led fellow University of Lethbridge student Amanda Bigford to find him, as she sought advice on using the material for her art toy-based thesis project. Forming a romantic and artistic partnership, the duo would found Wendigo Toys together, their shared sense of strangeness and humor leading to the creation of works like the Figments series. And while only their more whimsical tone is obvious on the duo’s first factory-produced endeavor, the Kidrobot-issued Balloon Dunny seemingly defies more than gravity: accepting that associating the design’s inspiration with Jeff Koons “would be a natural assumption,” Martin reveals that “it is not directly related to Koons’ work” at all.

The Real Inspiration for the Balloon Dunny

“I had just finished up working on a miniature blow-up sex doll for [2017’s] DesignerCon, so I had balloons on the brain,” Martin admits. “The initial idea for the [Balloon] Dunny came about when I heard that Kidrobot had acquired the license for Andy Warhol,” the artist continues, further declaring how he “was thinking about all the possibilities that Kidrobot could do with that license,” a direction that led to him considering “adapting Warhol’s Silver Cloud [concept] to the Dunny form.” A collaborative installation between Warhol and engineer Billy Klüver, Silver Clouds debuted at April of 1966’s Leo Castelli Gallery exhibition in New York City, the floating metallic ‘pillows’ inflated with a proprietary mixture of air and pure helium that caused them to hover mid-room. And for Martin’s collaborative interpretation with Bigford of this idea, he “made a quick concept model in hopes of pitching [it] to Kidrobot at DesignerCon,” the artist reveals, which “a friend” successfully passed along “into the hands of the correct people,” resulting in the brand offering to make a factory-produced vinyl edition of the Balloon Dunny.

Wendigo Toys’ Balloon Dunny

Defying the logical refrain that “what goes up must come down,” the 7½-inch tall sculpture will forever float the Balloon Dunny above its weighted anchor. A powerful statement in and of itself about disregarding expectations, Martin couldn’t resist adding a small detail that eludes to another influence: the 42 Kg demarcation embossed upon the weight. “More often than not it’s an allusion to a [David] Bowie song,” the artist states about these so-called “easter eggs” he frequently employs, though this instance is “a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adams reference,” specifically the author’s numeric answer to the query about life, the universe, and everything. As for the only other writing found on the form, the “Blow Here” declaration on the piece’s buttock-located valve, Martin declares this to be “a Kozik contribution,” implying it was added by Kidrobot’s Creative Director, Frank Kozik.

Since Martin generally crafts wholly original sculptures, he does admit that “working on a pre-existing form is limiting in some ways.” Recognizing that there’s a “tricky balance of how much to alter,” he continues, the Wendigo Toys’ duo to employed “creative thinking and problem-solving” to insure the finished form was “recognizable” as well as their own “coherent design.” A successful artistic endeavor by any measure of the term, Kidrobot opted to issue the piece not only in a general release Red version, whose limitation quantity is unspecified, but also in two 300-piece editions: a Gold variation exclusive to Kidrobot.com and a Teal rendition exclusive to I Am Retro. But whatever coloration of the Balloon Dunny one might acquire, the sculpture itself is a testament to the spontaneous sense of excitement that the form imparts, viewers gaining a feeling that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to become a bit ungrounded.

Click Here to Acquire Wendigo Toys’ Balloon Dunny from Kidrobot, or Click Here to Find a Kidrobot Retailer to Order it from.

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