Gary Vaynerchuk made a name for himself when he transformed his VeeFriends doodles into NFTs, generating more than $300 million worth of trading volume.
VeeFriends earned a spot at Christie’s auctions, brand partnerships, and a slot at the VeeCon convention in May.
The NFT project is getting another upgrade as the characters will transform into toys headed for America’s toy department store chains.
VeeFriends will be hitting shelves this month through Macy’s and the Toys R Us brand as plush and vinyl toys.
The toys will be based on ten VeeFriends characters from the vast NFT collection.
They were designed in collaboration with Toikido, a toy and entertainment startup.
Characters like Patient Panda, Practical Peacock, and Willful Wizard will be joining the real world as stuffed toys and vinyl figurines, randomly distributed into “blind boxes.”
The first wave of toys will be available for sale on October 17.
Prospective owners can also find them on the Macy’s, Toys R Us, and VeeFriends websites.
Toys R Us
Once a popular independent chain, Toys R Us was forced to shut down in 2018 after bankruptcy proceedings.
Andy Krainak, the president of VeeFriends, said the iconic brand holds a special place in Vaynerchuk’s heart, being a toy collector and flipper.
They wrote in a press release that the deal meant more to Vaynerchuk “than you could ever imagine.”
The Series 2 collection
Earlier this year, VeeFriends shared plans of shifting from NFTs to mainstream products when it launched 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.
It was done so to create a backbone for potential VeeFriends products, like apparel, games, packaged food, and more.
Vaynerchuk explained that VeeFriends needed to “stand up the intellectual property” and transition into more fleshed-out character designs for his creations.
Despite the change, VeeFriends is still built around Vaynerchuk’s focus on inspirational content.
The same focus has helped him become a bestselling author and social media project.
As the project ventures into new content products, Krainak said he doesn’t view the project as an NFT play anymore.
“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 expects more storytelling avenues for VeeFriends.
He is looking to explore books, video games, and other formats, saying the company is in its “infancy” when it comes to generating daily online content.
However, the goal is to make community members and the broader public fall in love with the VeeFriends via story-driven initiatives.
The launch comes after the announcement in July of a $50 million seed funding round led by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
According to Krainak, the funds will help the expansion following a rough crypto market in recent months.
The transition from the NFT space to mass-market products will be difficult as creators typically don’t want to diminish the value or appeal of the NFT by targeting a broader audience.
With VeeFriends, Vaynerchuk and his team decided to reward certain NFT holders with free products like toys and other collaborations, including apparel.
Collectors who have NFTs of characters being turned into a toy can claim 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.”