Wanna buy a Dunny? Collectible French Dunny designer toys went on sale Thursday at a trading party at Kaimuki's Urbanz Toys, one of 27 stores worldwide chosen by maker Kidrobot to carry the toys.
Kidrobot is known for its limited-edition art toys and apparel that merge urban street trends, fashion and pop art. In fact, the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired 13 Kidrobot toys late last year to add to its collection.
The latest series, featuring the company's small, rabbit-shaped figures, showcases the work of cutting-edge French artists, and eager collectors made their way to the local storefront to purchase the little buggahs.
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French Dunny toys were distributed to only 27 stores internationally with Urbanz Toys in Kaimuki making the cut.
The 19-piece assortment of toys is sold "blind," meaning buyers hand over their $6.95 per piece without knowing what's inside the box. Afterward, trading begins. Or hoarding.
Hidden within some boxes was "Le Billet Cach," a small certificate guaranteeing a few buyers the golden opportunity to receive a special, larger Dunny, free from the self-proclaimed French Love Team of Koralie and SupaKitch.
Only 500 of those Dunnys were made, and two have been claimed by lucky purchasers at the Urbanz Toys event -- Desiree Hunter of Ewa Beach and store co-owner Kathy Bachlott (who, honestly, didn't have an advantage over the other buyers, accusations to the contrary).
The happy Hunter was later seen just outside the shop with her fellow collectors, sitting with a case of just-purchased French Dunnys in her lap.
Closing the lid and wrapping her arms around it, she recited in a quiet voice, filled with contentment, the collector's mantra of bliss:
The hobby of collecting has always had a geek connotation. But when it comes to things like kicks -- for you older folk, athletic shoes -- and vinyl-made toys, a hipness factor enters the picture.
Youth-based businesses --specifically those influenced by the street culture of hip-hop and graffiti -- have wrapped collectibles into their marketing. It's an international cultural phenomenon and one that has reached our island shore.
Urbanz Toys in Kaimuki, co-owned by Kathy Bachlott and Scott Nonaka, was one of 27 stores worldwide to debut the French Dunny designer toy limited series Thursday night. In specially chosen stores across the mainland, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, France, the Netherlands and Italy, enthusiastic collectors bought up the eclectic Dunnys -- sometimes at the rate of 25 in a case. The night's sale also was a trading party, fueled by complimentary wine and cheese (or, in our case, pupus), as collectors wheeled and dealed not only with Dunnys just purchased, but other collectibles brought along in bags and plastic cases.
Kidrobot has made much of its reputation on the Dunny. The company carefully watches over the line, from designer to producer to retail stores in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. The 3-inch, bunnylike toys are a hit because of their collectible value, as artists use them like a blank canvas for their unique designs.
Series come out regularly in limited release, and the thrill of purchase comes from opening the box and tearing open the foil wrapper to see what Dunny you've got. An especially rare Dunny can fetch beaucoup bucks on the collectors' market.
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Collectors waited outside of Urbanz Toys in Kaimuki before opening their boxes to trade their toys.
COLLECTORS themselves, Nonaka and Bachlott would regularly travel to the mainland to buy toys and such. "But then we noticed there weren't so many places in Hawaii that have a store like Kidrobot's," said Nonaka, "so we opened our own a little over a year ago."
Urbanz Toys' solid sales of Kidrobot items didn't go unnoticed by the company. The store became the Hawaii host of trading parties about twice a year.
"On Oahu the number of designer toy collectors is growing," Nonaka said. "It started out kind of small, but over a year's time the number's doubled. We have 200 people on our Web site's message forum and an e-mail list of around 500."
For artists, designing for Kidrobot helps makes their reputation, and the collectors that night -- some of whom waited up to two hours to get in the store -- had their checklists ready. One collector, who wanted to go by the name Jimi of Honolulu, was looking at a Dunny featuring the work of an artist named Tilt, with splashes of color over a basic white figure.
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Desiree Hunter holds her "Le Billet Cach" which she found in one of her boxes.
"I like the simplicity of his work," he said. "It's colorful but not overtly busy. I collect particular artists like him, and I enjoy the hunt of trying to find his work in this series."
Ace collector Jase Chun keeps the bulk of his toys home in Kapaa, Kauai, but the 19-year-old has a display shelf in his small University of Hawaii dormitory room. An original Beanie Babies collector, Chun said, "I usually sell and trade upward for toys that I want, either straight up with other collectors here or on eBay."
"If I can't get what I want here, I go to Kidrobot's online store and buy more. But I like the interaction of the trading parties."
Bachlott said a second shipment of French Dunnys arrives Thursday. "It's the most we've ever ordered. It's a huge honor to get their exclusives and do the trading parties."
Kaimuki's Urbanz Toys, in conjunction with Kidrobot, hosted a French Dunny trading party last week. Local collectors lined up to purchase the small, rabbit-shaped figures that showcase the work of cutting-edge French artists.