Kidrobot wasn’t Budnitz’s first effort at turning consumer goods into collectibles; one of his earlier businesses involved customizing Air Jordans, which he then sold for as much as $16,000 a pair. But the manufacturing process for vinyl toys, in which the molds degrade over time, presented a ripe opportunity to create limited-edition collectibles—making the toys out of plastic kept production costs low and price points accessible to collectors. Though some individual Kidrobot toys have been known to sell for upwards of $400, the first designs cost between $10 and $100 when it launched in 2002, and generally cost the same today.
Budnitz sold Kidrobot a decade later in order to focus on his bicycle brand, Budnitz Bikes (he also founded a social media platform for artists, Ello, in 2014). The buyer, WildBrain Entertainment, announced a plan to focus on licensed characters, and nearly bankrupted the company; soon, its stores began closing. Kidrobot was acquired again by National Entertainment Collectibles Association in 2014, and Kozik joined as the creative lead. But the damage was done: In 2016, the company shuttered the last of its brick-and-mortar stores. Kidrobot continues to sell collectibles online, including both artist-designed and licensed toys.