Today we’re going to be talking about the Headless Horseman! I know discussing Ichabod Crane’s nemesis and the bane of Sleepy Hollow would’ve been more appropriate before Halloween, but hopefully the sheer specialness of this piece will compensate for the untimely discussion. While the character has been interpreted — in movies, TV, books, and God knows how many other mediums — a quadrillion times over the last century, we’re here to discuss a designer toy rendition: an innovative production Dunny prototype, Jared Cain’s Headless Horseman Dunny (2014). This copy that we’re examining is one of only six artist proof prototypes that Cain made, including even a test packaging box.

My Impressions of the Headless Horseman Dunny Production Prototype

Nikejerk's Production Headless Horseman Dunny Prototype - Figure
Now this design might look familiar to some, and that’s because Cain, who is also known by the moniker Nikejerk, first created this concept in 2011 for the Most Wanted 2 custom Dunny blind boxed series. Most Wanted gathered the top customizers from the Kidrobot forum, had them each make multiple hand-modified Dunny figures, and then sold them randomly boxed up, just like a production 3″ Dunny series release would be. Cain’s contribution to Series 2 was the Headless Horseman, an experimental idea for a Dunny figure, one with a detachable head.
Nikejerk's Production Headless Horseman Dunny Prototype - Most Wanted II Figure
Originally, these customs were just supposed to have a bloody neck stump that the pumpkin head slipped onto, but once Cain had cut the mouth and eyes holes out, he didn’t like that you could see the neck peg through the mouth slit. To circumvent this problem, Cain devised using magnets hidden within the head and the stump… a sleek and clean solution, which also opened up the option of having interchangeable alternate heads.
Nikejerk's Production Headless Horseman Dunny Prototype - Figure
But let’s get back to this version of the Headless Horseman, which has recessed sculpted elements instead of incised parts. Around the beginning of 2013, Cain was working on a digital turnaround of the design to submit to Kidrobot. Instead of just blindly submitting this art, though, Cain came up with a brilliant marketing campaign: he screen-printed around 150 postcards — like this one — and mailed them to collectors, family and anyone who expressed interest in seeing the Horseman in production. Each postcard came stamped and already addressed to Kidrobot, with space on the back for each person to write why they want to see the Headless Horseman Dunny get made

Then Cain made a 20-page booklet about the piece that included the digital turnaround and concept ideas, which he included alongside one of the resin Horseman heads he’d made and some mini screen prints, like these. This box of goodies was timed to be delivered shortly after the postcards should’ve begun arriving at KR’s headquarters, which would all happen shortly before San Diego Comic-Con… during which Cain would use introduce himself to the Creative Director of Kidrobot. Everything worked exactly as planned, and Cain was even invited to participate in an exhibition at Kidrobot’s Boulder headquarters location a little later that year.
By the time Cain left KR’s office two months later, he had a verbal commitment to make the Horseman which was quickly followed by an actual contract. In March of 2014, Cain had completed the prototype — just like this one here — and the release was scheduled for October of 2015. Sadly, because of production issues and costs, the Horseman’s head on the mass-made version was not gonna be removable right out of the box. But Cain, always forward thinking, was going to make an open-ended deal that if someone bought two of the Horseman Dunnys and sent them to him, then he would mail them back one copy that had been customized to include the magnetic connection, incised face details, and some other embellishments. Talk about one of the coolest givebacks to fans that I’ve ever heard of!
Nikejerk's Production Headless Horseman Dunny Prototype - Timeline
But then the turbulence at Kidrobot hit, with everyone Cain had been working with there being laid off, and his design just seems to have disappeared from the production queue. Maybe the new employees only saw the modified concept, without the removable head, and that’s why it got canceled — because the best part of the design was no longer included. We’ll never know, I guess. These contoured head versions really accentuate Cain’s black-line contoured, swatches of color style, so it’s a true shame that they will seemingly never be produced.

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