May 11, 2006
Review of Dave Flores's Kon Artis from Kidrobot
Dave Flores is well-known for his portraits of celebrities and renderings of cultural icons. His unique art style involves crisscrossing curved line segments that almost remind me of the metal structure found in stained glass work. Kidrobot and Dunny collectors have already gotten a taste of Dave Flores in designer toy form through the recently released Evil and Bad 8” Dunnys. Today, Kidrobot is releasing the first colorway (red) of its original Dave Flores Figure, Kon Artis. While Kon Artis follows his previously released Dunnys, it has been in development for quite some time. In fact, it was shown at last year’s Toy Fair in unpainted prototype form (2005). The figure is based on Dave’s paintings of America’s most beloved (or is that loathed) Mouse.
Standing about 8.5 inches tall, Kon Artis is a very striking figure. After unpacking it, I stared at it for quite a while enjoying the figure from various angles. This is without a doubt a great sculpt and a very appealing figure. Perhaps not completely surprising given the source material, Kon Artis feels like a cartoon character come to life.
Dave Flores’ art style makes the jump to 3D quite nicely here. The borders separating the various colored segments that make up Kon Artis are raised vinyl rather than simply painted on. This detail gives the figure an appealing 3D texture which is particularly striking on the hands where it almost reminds me of “webbing”. Additionally the braids (or are they dreds) and the paintbrush accessory enhance the shape and profile of the figure.
While Kon Artis is available in three colorways, each relies on complimentary shades of one dominant color: red, green, and blue. The red one I reviewed varies from a deep magenta to a very pale pink in a mosaic of color that is quite nice.
Articulation / Posability
Kon Artis has 5 points of articulation at the head, the shoulders, and the wrists. In terms of posability, this one is somewhat limited. While the head is articulated, the range of motion is heavily restricted by the braids which become obstructed by the shoulders. The upper arm is fixed relative to the body and instead rotates about the shoulder joint – the arms are always outstretched. The hands do rotate at the wrist which allows for some cool poses.
In addition to the limited articulation available, Kon Artis also comes with an additional removable right hand with an open rather than a fingers-curled over (to hold the brush) position. In fact, the extra hand has the same pose as the more or less fixed left hand. The extra hand is certainly a nice feature and provides some extra flexibility in terms of display options.
All in all, this is a stunning figure with slightly less posability than one might expect. In my opinion this is a fair tradeoff for the detailed sculpt.
In general the quality of the figure’s construction and paint application is quite high. It’s not perfect but close. There are some minor blemishes along a few segment borders, but nothing to be overly concerned about. Also, there appears to be some minor discoloration on the back of the head where the braids attach. Again, not a big deal especially since the head is dark magenta which serves to mask the slight discoloration. This may very well be isolated to this particular figure.
Beyond the design, Kon Artis is notable as it continues Kidrobot’s recent trend of releasing select toys in very limited editions with consequently elevated pricing. Both the recently released Shuttlemax and Kon Artis are examples of what I’ll call KR’s premium products. Interestingly, both of these products ship in an opaque plastic box rather than a standard cardboard box. Perhaps this is pure coincidence, a function of toy size, or something else entirely ;-)
These premium products deliver original sculpts in very small edition sizes – two things that collectors value. They key question is whether collectors will be willing to pay the elevated price in return for the increased collectibility. Of course, this will depend in part (or perhaps almost completely) on the sculpt itself.
As mentioned before Kon Artis is available in three colorways: Red, Blue and Green. Each retails for $149.95 and is limited to just 100 pieces. That’s right, only 300 total. Is that super limited, extremely limited, or uber limited? I have no idea, that’s a personal call, but let’s just say there aren’t very many of these great figures to go around. The Red (5.11.06) and Blue (06.22.06 at NY signing) are exclusive to Kidrobot. The green will apparently be exclusive to a retail partner.
I don’t do ratings per se as I find it to hard to find a set of objective criteria to base them on. However, I will say this is a very nice figure that coupled with the very small edition size would make a great addition to almost any collection. Is it worth the fairly hefty price? That’s really a personal call based as always on how much you “feel” the sculpt/design.
If you want this Red colorway, don't delay. There's just 100 and they're only available directly from Kidrobot.
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Only 100 of each color? Christ, I'll have to pick one up soon (along with Flores' custom Gascan Oakley sunglasses)... apparently KR lowered the price to $80. Anyone know if they made additional units?