Gary Vee’s NFT Project has evolved from hand-drawn drawings to animated cartoon characters, and now toys for all ages. Gary Vaynerchuk, investor and entrepreneur, created hand-drawn VeeFriends drawings that were made from paper and NFTs.
This resulted in over $300 million of trading volume, which led to a Christie’s auction and brand partnerships. The characters of Gary Vee have been made into toys and are now available at America’s largest department store chain.
VeeFriends will launch vinyl and plush toys this month via Macy’s and Toys”R”Us. The brand is being relaunched in all Macy’s stores across the United States. These toys were created in collaboration with Toikido, a toy and entertainment startup.
Vaynerchuk’s characters, such as Practical Peacock and Willful Wizard, are being made into stuffed toys.
They will also be sold via the Macy’s, Toys”R”Us, and the VeeFriends websites.
Toys”R”Us used to be a popular independent chain. However, it was forced out of business in 2018 by bankruptcy proceedings. Andy Krainak, president of VeeFriends, told Decrypt the “iconic” brand holds a special place for Vaynerchuk as a collector and flipper. Vaynerchuk stated in a press release that the deal means “way more to me than I could ever imagine.”
VeeFriends’ transition from NFT project into mainstream products was clearly visible when it launched its Series 2 collection earlier in the year. The original 10,255 Ethereum NFTs were made from Vaynerchuk’s marker-based doodles. However, the newly released 55,000 Series 2 NFTs on Ethereum are more cartoonish and polished.
Vaynerchuk explained that this was intentional. In May, he told Decrypt that he wanted to create the backbone for a wide range of potential VeeFriends products, including apparel, food packaging, games, and merchandise. Vaynerchuk stated that VeeFriends had to “stand up to the intellectual property” and transition to more robust, fleshed out character designs for their creations.
VeeFriends’ core focus on inspirational content is what Vaynerchuk still uses to build the site. This has made Vaynerchuk a celebrity social media star, best-selling author and much more. Krainak stated that VeeFriends is no longer a NFT play as the project evolves.
“If you asked me a year ago, VeeFriends would have been a NFT company.” He explained that VeeFriends is a transmedia company, or multimedia company. We tell stories in many forms and formats. “Any medium or form in which we can bring to life, if necessary, the characters and traits we hope to inspire in others.”
Krainak stated that VeeFriends can expect to explore more storytelling options as it expands its explorations into books, video games and other formats. Although the company is still in its infancy in terms of creating daily online content, Krainak said that it is working towards making the community “fall in love” with the characters through story-driven initiatives.
After the announcement in July of a \$50m seed funding round by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, Macy’s/Toys”R”Us’s launch follows. Krainak stated that the funds will help in the expansion in a rough overall cryptocurrency market over the past months.
He stated that “as we can all see, we are in some sort of a crypto-winter and possibly a looming depression.” “Above all, it’s a security measure in order to ensure that we feel capable and in the right place to continue building this company into the future.” We can do this by having partners and funding.
It is difficult to balance the expansion of a brand from an NFT project into mass market products. However, creators don’t want the original NFT source material to be diminished in any way by reaching a wider audience.
Vaynerchuk, along with his team, have decided to give away free products to VeeFriends NFT holders. This includes toys, apparel, and other collaborations. Collectors who have the NFT of any character that is being made into toys can get a free one between now and October 18th. In addition, they will get perks at future toy launches.
Krainak stated, “We are always looking for opportunities to reward our current community members and holders as we continue this journey with them.” “We want to create VeeFriends in the next 40 years.”