In the early 2000s Paul Budnitz launched Kidrobot and started a vinyl toy craze. Collectors and street art enthusiasts were driven wild buying and trading rare editions, and investing in ‘blind boxes’ to acquire full sets.
The brand’s success led to stores in Manhattan, San Francisco, London, LA, Las Vegas and Boulder, and lines around the block to get hold of rare toys and meet artists. But despite its outward success things weren’t as bright from the inside, with Budnitz saying Kidrobot was “constantly broke”. Bringing on investors in 2006 brought the company out of debt and helped them up the ante, but it also meant a division of priorities. “It was a big lesson,” says Budnitz.
After ten years overseeing the company’s runaway success – and watching the popularity of vinyl toys reach its peak – Budnitz had reached almost total burnout. He left KidRobot in 2012 and neither the company, nor the art toy business, ever seemed to completely recover.