Wednesday morning, the Twitterverse was the scene of a lively debate about crowd-funding website, Kickstarter. kaNO kicked it off with the self-proclaimed can-of-worms-opener above. I didn’t have a response initially. The flaws in his logic seemed so obvious that his statement was neutralized. But then Huck Gee re-tweeted it, and I started getting direct messages asking if I was going to comment, and well…I do like to opine.
I didn’t even need the full 140 characters. It’s really the second sentence that’s crucial: Crowd-funding creates toys people WANT. That’s a fact. You vote with your money. It’s not a PR-driven blog. Nor is it “pan-handling”. Believe me, I know. I live in the Bay Area.
Solid point, Steve Brown. If you’re a retailer, artist or member of the media who is privy to DKE’s toy distribution list, you might consider their sale emails as the land of unwanted toys. Toys that were once priced at $100 are knocked down to $15 as supply eclipses demand. Well Kickstarter tells you precisely how much demand there is. 178 people wanted to see a DIY vinyl sneaker toy, but only 23 thought a second series of community-designed platform figures was a good idea. In the latter case, the company told me they’d move forward with funding their project in another way, but at least they were given a reality check. This type of data could have been useful for the makers of, oh I don’t know, Miao And Mosubi, or one of dozens of vinyl toys I see hanging out at my friends’ retail toy stores years after their release.
Mr. Supreme, you seem to be doing just fine on your own! But I think we will be seeing an influx of toy-related Kickstarter projects. Don’t like ‘em? Don’t pledge ‘em! I mean, I’m not trying to be a dick, but there’s a third option. You’ve got your definitive YES, your distinct NO, and then there’s WTF. Have fun with it. Instead of surfing eBay, look around. Be someone’s benefactor. It feels GOOD.
Insightful thoughts from a man who has made “440 characters and counting” on his own as well as with major companies. Perhaps the market is shrinking or perhaps it’s just changing; but it’s a reality that the stores are closing. Kickstarter goes directly to the fans, and it extends past the usual suspects to reach potential new fans.
In addition, people may simply want to help out someone they like and/or think deserves to realize a dream. We don’t have to drive Teslas and carry the initials VC to be angels anymore. Our small change can make a big difference in a person’s life, as LASH was telling me when it came to his (double-funded) Kickstarter project.
I want to also devote a few jpegs to the other side of the debate.
Nobody’s arguing this. I’ve visited Huck’s studio and witnessed all of his equipment first hand. I know that amassing that kind of gear doesn’t come cheap. But Huck Gee used to work for Kidrobot, the company that would later release his production figures and help him achieve the kind of fan base who would pay $800 a pop for his custom work. In other words, Kidrobot was Huck’s Kickstarter.
Lamour beat me to it by saying “No way! Even that much more props to Indy Toy Makers!” That’s essentially what I told Paul when I saw him last month for his show at Super7. It’s rad when people make their own toys. It’s rad when a crowd comes together to fund a person’s toy design. And it’s rad when a company throws its money behind artists to manufacture their figures.
The moral of this story? Toys are rad. Kickstarter is one rad way to get them made.
More of your thoughts? Please leave some comments.