Money in the blank
Forget the metric system—vinyl always sounds cooler when it’s measured in inches. Take the seven-inch Munny, a best-selling soft vinyl doll produced by American company Kidrobot, the world’s “premier creator of limited edition art toys and apparel”.
The Munny, and Kidrobot’s other big seller, the Dunny, has been included in the permanent design collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. And when it comes to the Munny, the only acceptable conversion is the DIY kind.
The toys are sold “blank in the box”, ready to be customised with pen, markers, crayon, paints — anything goes. Four-inch Mini Munnys and 18-inch Mega Munnys are also available, with prices starting at $200 (R1 450) for the larger toys.
A gallery of Munny designs—and tips on how to make your own—can be found in the Munnyworld section on kidrobot.com. This week 20 Munny figurines customised by local artists go on display in Show Me the Munny at Toitoy, Cape Town’s “first ever vinyl toy store”.
Participating artists and illustrators include Daniel Ting Chong, Emma Cook, Bruce Mackay, Jordan Metcalf, Simon Berndt and local “hero” Kronk—the first South African artist to have a toy produced by Kidrobot (his Dunny designs include the Gingerbread Man, two Treehuggers, and a five-inch squirrel called Nutter, which comes with an acorn hand grenade). In 2009 Kronk customised two 20-inch Dunny dolls for an art auction held to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
“The basic theme for Show Me the Munny is anything African,” says Earl Fischhoff, Toitoy’s owner, “but they’re free to do what they want with it. It’s their design, their creation.” One of the Munny dolls has been covered in Chappies by Bloemfontein-based designer Reddprime. All of the customised Munny dolls are for sale, with prices determined by and proceeds going directly to the artists.
“This is the first of what I hope will become a quarterly event,” Fischhoff says. “I want local artists to get recognition and publicity. This is a very big platform for the talent we have in this country. I’m constantly trying to get artists to do customs and then we can put them on the website to sell overseas.”