Feb 16, 2014
Kidrobot Creative Director Galen McKamy on TMNT, Munny and More
[With Kidrobot’s recent announcements of upcoming TMNT and Mega Man toy lines, collectors have been wondering what the future holds for one of the original American art toy pioneers. Rather than speculate, Vinyl Pulse reached out to Kidrobot and set up an interview with Creative director Galen McKamy (picture above, 2nd from the left) to ask about TMNT but perhaps more importantly about how licensed toys and art toys mix and relate to each other. Completed a few weeks ago, we’re happy to bring you the interview --- complete with pictures of the new TMNT mini series which was revealed today at Toy Fair in NYC, courtesy of Kidrobot.]
Q: Hi Galen. Before we jump into talking about TMNT, can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Kidrobot as the creative director?
A: In a nutshell, or a half shell... I wear about 50 different hats. We have between 15-20 licenses that we work with, our core brands and collaborations that all happen at the same time. I create the proper pathways for each of these brands or products to speak to the right consumer, while maintaining our brand's ( Kidrobot) integrity. I work with outside partners, artists, and companies to produce product that is compelling and hopefully progressive.
I am a designer/artist by trade, so I still like to get my hands dirty. I also have nearly 15 years in the toy design industry so I constantly try to push our manufacturing and artist partners to go beyond what other companies are doing. I have an amazing team of product, package and graphic designers that consistently rise above expectation. I am extremely fortunate to have such a great crew with me. My role allows me to connect with many amazingly creative people and companies around the world. I'm never not working, that is a fact. I think that the key to my role is to be accessible, honest, and constantly aware and moving.
Q: So we now know that Kidrobot will be releasing several licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures in the near future. First, congratulations on adding the Turtles to the KR lineup. Second, can you tell us a bit more about what collectors can expect from the new toys?
A: We are so excited to launch this property. We have a great relationship with Nickelodeon. You can expect to see a lineup of the core classic TMNT characters- heroes and VILLAINS. Maybe a curveball or two. We are launching a line of 3" figures, medium figures and special addition Blister carded figures that really pay homage to the roots of TMNT. We are also producing a limited run of apparel to compliment the collaboration.
Q: As KR's creative director, how do you approach these entertainment crossover projects? Is it important that the toys reflect a distinct Kidrobot design aesthetic?
A: 100 percent. We get approached daily by many different brands and licenses. We have to maintain our integrity and elevate our brand awareness in the proper way. We are a collectable product company. This means that our aesthetics should be ownable to Kidrobot and compliment the license we are working with. The licensing partner also needs to sit well within our space. Turtles has a nostalgic quality that resonates with KR collectors.
Q: Up until the Marvel crossover products, Munny had been strictly DIY. The Marvel Munnys took a hybrid approach -- blank figures with Marvel character stickers. Is that the same approach for the Turtles, or do these have printed/sculpted designs? Is Munny now a full-fledged platform toy with both designed and DIY editions?
A: We initially rolled out Marvel Munny for two reasons. One, we know that artist and customizers purchase Munny to create their own art. The Marvel property skews young as well. We wanted to give the little ones a creative toy that inspires them to make/ create. The second reason, is that Hasbro holds the master toy license. I actually came from Hasbro where I worked on Marvel and many other properties. So based on my past life and our restrictions within the property, Munny was a perfect fit for us. Turtles is our second launch of a licensed property on the Munny brand. There will be molded accessories for sure, maybe even some shells!! [editor: the TMNT Munnys will also feature deco stickers].