Although it is usually retailers that pick up merch derived from animated properties, New York-based specialty shop and toyco Kidrobot is about to go the other way. San Francisco-based animation studio Wild Brain announced a majority stake acquisition of the toy maker and retailer earlier this year. CEO Charlie Rivkin says his company’s investment in Kidrobot will step up the brand’s presence in the U.S., both increasing its retail reach and introducing it to new mediums.
He says the appeal of Kidrobot is creator Paul Budnitz’s unique design sense. Budnitz explains his brand is artistic, but also a little geeky, and Rivkin agrees offbeat Kidrobot characters such as Munny are perfect for animated ventures. Like the toys, the animation will most likely appeal to the tween and older age groups.
With Wild Brain in the picture, there are big plans afoot for the Kidrobot brand. First, the pair has a number of ideas in development based on the toys that it’s looking to take to TV, DTV and possibly feature films. Building mobile and broadband applications is also in the offing. Even with the extra resources, both Budnitz and Rivkin contend Kidrobot won’t stray from its origins. ‘The last thing we want to do is change or alter that brand,’ Rivkin says, adding that Kidrobot will continue running as a separate business under Budnitz.
Meanwhile, Kidrobot is busy doing what it does best-creating funky merchandise to be sold in its three New York and California-based stores. A new clothing line will be rolling out this fall, along with a kid-targeted plastic toy figurine line called Zoomies. Aside from the company stores, Kidrobot merch will still be carried at hipper chains such as Urban Outfitters.
Rivkin acknowledges that there is demand to make these products available at mass retail, but he’s concerned that such a move could compromise the unique character of the brand. ‘Right now it’s a truly specialty store collectible market that we’re catering to. We go mass market, we might inadvertently risk the exclusive nature of that product.’