She is not your typical Barbie, Monster High or “girl’s toy aisle” doll.
She is much more than that.
This is Yuna from Dream Big Friends. The first in a series of dolls made to inspire young girls, but still be fun, imaginative and playful. She loves science, travel, rockets, art, design, Korean food and Giant Robot. Her big dream is to run a company designing rockets that will one day take her to Mars. She’ll be the first one to stand on the planet’s surface, naturally.
Yuna was created by Dream Big Friends, which is made up of Sun-Min Kim + David Horvath and Klim Kozinevich. Sun-Min + David are best known for creating the Uglydoll line of plush toys. Klim Kozinevich is the bigshot of Bigshot Toyworks which has created toys and product designs for Hasbro, Kidrobot, Fisher Price and more. Together they more than 20 years of experience in the toy industry.
We got our first real look at the Yuna prototype at DesignerCon on Saturday, November 21st at the Dream Big Friends booth. I ran into David Horvath hanging out at the booth and was able to get some info on Yuna and Dream Big Friends. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the whole project.
Q & A With David Horvath
How did you come up with Yuna, her design and name?
Sun-Min and I have been talking about creating an alternative to what you typically find in the “pink aisle” for a very long time. We are fans of many of the toy lines you find in the “girls aisle”, and own quite a few, but we’ve also come to understand the concern and discussions about such toys and how they might influence children. Our wish was to create an alternative… another choice…. no matter where you sit on the discussion. Are slim fashion model toys detrimental to the development of children? Are they good for us? Bad for us? Pink is just a color? They’re just toys?
Either way, we felt it was time for another choice… We wanted to make a doll that would play well with others, be based on inspirational characters from all walks of life and all parts of the world, and rather than be an anti-fashion doll, be pro-fun, pro-aspirational, and pro-Korean food truck!
For just as long as Sun-Min and I have talked dolls, I’ve been discussing possible toy projects with our pal Klim Kozinevich, who recently had much success with his Four Horsies Kickstarter, which prompted our conversation about bringing Yuna to life via crowdfunding.
Klim is a giant in the toy industry, working on projects for the major toy companies and dozens of other global clients. He’s one of the most knowledgeable pros I know when it comes to design and making good things with great care.
The design came about through very fluid back and forth between Sun-Min, Klim and myself.
Yuna’s name was originally going to be named after my “home town” where I stay in Japan, but Sun-Min quickly moved that name over to the cat!
Good move! We love Yuna’s name.
Yuna looks like a very articulated doll. Much more than other dolls of its kind. How much articulation does Yuna have and how tall is it?
Yuna is ten inches tall and is made of super high grade, safe plastics, articulated at the wrists, elbows, knees, shoes, hips, head and shoulders, but her true articulation comes out when she expresses her ideas.
Where did the name Dream Big Friends come from?
Dream Big was our theme from the get-go, so it seemed like a natural title. Dream Big and aspire to be happy.
What was the reason you decided to launch the project through Kickstarter?
This was a new one for me personally, but Klim and his team at Big Shot Toy Works have had much success with Kickstarter, which seemed like a great way to grow an early adopter fan base before going straight to retail. It felt like a great way to open up with our message.
The goal of $175,000 is a huge one to fund the project.
I agree! The goal is the exact cost to bring Yuna to life from prototyping to mold tooling to factory production and shipping.
What made you decide to use the Giant Robot shirt design and include it in Yuna’s bio?
Giant Robot was a perfect fit for so many reasons, an obvious one for me being the star of our doll line, Yuna, is the first Asian American main character in a “fashion doll” line. Giant Robot has done wonders for Asian Pop culture and we wanted to give a special shout out to our pals on Sawtelle Blvd. Giant Robot was also the birth place of many of our most popular toy lines, and we have a special place in our heart for GR. But most of all, Gian Robot is my Cheers. It’s a place where I can pull in on a Saturday night and catch up with family. It’s home.
I think I’m Norm.
When can we expect to see Yuna’s friends added to the Dream Big Friends line?
Our goal is to introduce Yuna’s world and her close friends soon after she ships!
Very excited. While there are some early versions on the Kickstarter video used as placeholders to show there’s more coming, the final first 4 pals will (hopefully) knock your socks off, we are super happy … can’t wait to bring them out.
Will there be a standard version of Yuna that will be different from the Kickstarter version?
When Yuna ships, we will get to her best pals first, but yes a second version of Yuna is already in the works.
Since Yuna and the Dream Big Friends line is not going to be like your typical “fashion-type” of doll, will there be clothing available to purchase separately?
We want to get through this Kickstarter first, but we’re currently drawing up plans for the near future. (David did mention to me that they plan to get the Dream Big Friends line into retail stores too.)
Any plans for Uglydoll or Bossy Bear to crossover into the Dream Big Friends? Maybe on the clothing or bags?
I would love a Bossy Bear crown myself… I mean for me to wear. A couple really special crossovers are planned long term, can’t wait to show you.
Now that you and Sun-Min have been based in Korea for a while now, and do some work in Japan, has it made a difference in what you create? The cultural differences from those places and the US.
We’ve been creating several products made specifically for the Japanese market and it’s a real thrill to see how well received our efforts have been. I think having a real love for and connection to Korea and Japan, and our friends and family here, helps expand our creative process.
Has being a father of 2 children, made a change in the products you create now than before?
Our daughter often asks me why things are marketed a certain way, especially when it comes to both the “girl’s aisle” and the use of fashion models on posters in the windows of Korean cell phone stores… so this project is certainly the result of some of her smart questions mixed with Klim’s and Sun-Min’s eternal desire to create and produce the best possible products we can.
What can we look forward to see in 2016 from Sun-Min + David? More Uglydoll? Bossy Bear? Spider boom?
Uglycon is coming to Seoul December 18th at the Fifty Fifty gallery where we will reveal the 2016 Uglydoll plush line, and an all new Bossy Bear book + card game combo set is on the way next year.
Is there anything that you want to add about Dream Big Friends, Yuna or other stuff?
No matter how you feel about the pink aisle or about fashion dolls and the color pink, we hope you’ll back our kickstarter to help send a message to the larger toy industry that there’s a desire for more… for another choice… and not just in the states… I won’t say where but one of my favorite toy store chains in one of my favorite countries has been carrying the same fashion doll line for decades… the vacuum cleaner alone is an eye opener… I won’t say more but… I would certainly like to see a second choice out there.
I mean we all need a vacuum….I’m in charge of the vacuum at my house… although I prefer a swiffer.
A dust free environment is critical for optimal creative work and play, and for building rockets.
But once the floor is clean, it’s time to go out there and explore all that is possible.
What would be anything!
Support Yuna! The project just launched on Kickstarter on Thursday, November 19th and ends on January 3rd, 2016. There are a few backing levels:
• $5 (Yuna postcard)
• $10 (Calendar and Wall Graphics)
• $20 (Button Pack, Calendar and Wall Graphics)
• $40 (1 doll comes dressed in outfit with shoulder bag and Kamata cat figure)
• $60 (1 doll plus button pack, 6 wall graphics, wall calendar and postcard)
• $80 (2 dolls comes dressed in outfit with shoulder bag and Kamata cat figure)
• $160 (4 dolls comes dressed in outfit with shoulder bag and Kamata cat figure)
They plan on introducing a few more backing levels as the Kickstarter progresses. Here is a link to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigshot-toyworks/dream-big-friends-yuna-doll
I am not anywhere near their target audience of young girls and a guy, but I am so excited for this project and can’t wait until it comes out! It’s the first Asian-American to be featured as the central character in a doll line.
For more information on Dream Big Friends or the Yuna doll visit, www.dreambigfriends.com.