Image source: NFT Plazas
Gary Vaynerchuk made his mark by turning his VeeFriends doodles into NFTs and generating over $300 million in trading volume.
VeeFriends won a place in Christie’s auctions, brand partnerships, and a place at the VeeCon convention in May.
The NFT project will get another upgrade as the characters transform into toys for US toy store chains.
VeeFriends hit the shelves this month through Macy’s and the Toys R Us brand as plush and vinyl toys.
The toys are based on ten VeeFriends characters from the extensive NFT collection.
They were designed in collaboration with Toikido, a toy and entertainment startup.
Randomly distributed in “blind boxes”, characters like Patient Panda, Practical Peacock, and Willful Wizard will enter the real world as stuffed animals and vinyl figurines.
The first wave of toys will go on sale on October 17th.
Potential owners can also find them on the websites of Macy’s, Toys R Us, and VeeFriends.
Toys R Us
Once a popular independent chain, Toys R Us was forced to close in 2018 after bankruptcy proceedings.
Andy Krainak, president of VeeFriends, said the iconic brand has a special place in Vaynerchuk’s heart as a collector of toys and pinball machines.
They wrote in a press release that the deal meant more to Vaynerchuk “than you can ever imagine.”
The Series 2 collection
Earlier this year, VeeFriends shared plans to transition from NFTs to consumer products when launching the Series 2 collection.
While the first collection was created from Vaynerchuk’s marker-based doodles, the Series 2 NFTs have a more polished look with cartoon-like features.
This was done to provide a backbone for potential VeeFriends products such as clothing, games, packaged food, and more.
Vaynerchuk explained that VeeFriends needs to “stand up for intellectual property” and move towards more polished character designs for their creations.
Despite the change, VeeFriends is still based on Vaynerchuk’s focus on inspirational content.
This same goal helped him become a bestselling author and social media project.
As the project ventures into new content products, Krainak said he no longer views the project as an NFT game.
“Today, I think of VeeFriends as a transmedia or multimedia company where we’re doing stories in all forms and fashions,” he explained.
“Any form or medium in which we can bring to life, if you will, the characters and traits that we’re hoping to inspire in others.”
Krainak also plans more storytelling opportunities for VeeFriends.
He wants to explore books, video games, and other formats, and says the company is in its “infancy” when it comes to creating everyday online content.
However, the goal is to make community members and the general public fall in love with VeeFriends through story-driven initiatives.
The launch comes after the announcement in July of an initial $50 million funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
According to Krainak, the funds will help expand after the difficult cryptocurrency market in recent months.
The transition from the NFT space to mass market products will be difficult as creators generally don’t want to downplay the value or attractiveness of NFT by targeting a wider audience.
With VeeFriends, Vaynerchuk and his team have decided to reward some NFT owners with free products such as toys and other collaborations, including clothing.
Collectors who have NFTs of characters that transform into toys can request a free version until October 18.
They also get perks at upcoming toy launch events.
“We’re looking at opportunities to reward our current community and holders as they carry on this journey with us,” said Krainak.
“We are here to build VeeFriends over the next 40 years.”