CryptoKaiju: 2019 in Review

By January 10, 2020DApps
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Disclosure: This post was originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@CryptoKaijuIO/2019-in-review-1-year-of-cryptokaiju-bf4388369317 Oliver Carding is the founder of both CryptoKaiju and CoinJournal.

It’s been a while since we last wrote a blog post, mostly because it’s been a busy year releasing collectibles and improving the Kaiju experience. With 2019 now done, we thought we’d reflect on what was an amazing year which saw us talk on stage on Broadway, make friends at NYC and Berlin Blockchain weeks and even collaborate with an NBA team!

Kaiju in Numbers

When we first scoped out the project, we knew we were doing something that hadn’t been done in the space before and that it was likely to capture people’s imagination, but we expected it to be a slow burner and did not expect as was the case, that the entire Genesis batch would sell out in 40 days which happened in January 2019. Since then we’ve:

  • Released 4 new batches (7 different SKUs)
  • Sent Kaiju to their new homes in over 30 different countries
  • Have minted over 700 Kaiju NFTS, to ~ 250 different addresses (Though this will increase as we distribute the Sacramento Kings NFTs)

Jaiantokoin

Released in March 2019, Jaiantokoin is an anthropomorphic Cryptocurrency character and was released in 2 different styles: Ethereum, the rarer of the 2 and Bitcoin. The batch was limited to 250 pcs, of which only 25 are still available to purchase.

Though we are so proud of Genesis, we recognised that improvements to how the NFC tag “sits” on the collectible could be improved so factored this into the design for Jaiantokoin, adding a shallow “well” into the foot of the character which makes the tag considerably harder to remove. This has now become the standard for our designs and will be continued with newer releases.

Jaiantokoin has been more of a “stable seller” than any of the dino designs. It didn’t receive as much attention as our first release but has been a consistent seller throughout the year and is still our best selling Kaiju (Though narrowly as we’ve sold over 200 Kitties now). In hindsight, doubling the batch size for a 2nd release was ambitious, but it has improved our exposure, is well-loved by all who’ve purchased one and has also meant that there’s been an item available when new people visit the site.

CryptoKitties

We toyed with the idea of a CryptoKitties toy between Genesis and Jaintokoin, going as far as mocking up some CADs and consulting with our manufacturers over the design. Eventually, we decided that having only released one toy previously, it would be better to continue developing our own style and looking at the Kitties again in the future.

In April we returned to the idea and spoke to Dapper to find out if they’d be interested in officially collaborating. A physical toy was not something the company was considering, nor would it be viable for them to work on the project considering the small size of our batches, but they liked the idea and directed us to their Nifty License which allows those who own Cryptokitties to use the designs for their own projects.

Based on the Nifty license, anyone is able to monetize their Kitty creations up to the value of $100,000 with a caveat being that you must cryptographically own the Kitty you are using in your art. We could have simply bred 2 colours and produced toys based on these, but we wanted to try something different which we felt fit more with the Kaiju brand and that was to back every CryptoKitty figure with a real CryptoKitty, linking the physical to a Kaiju and CryptoKitty token, meaning that as is the case with all of our other toys, each digital representation of the physical item would be unique, having its own personality and attributes. Of course, due to the nature of CryptoKitties and the many different cattributes that they are comprised of the collectible wouldn’t look exactly like the NFT, but after endless hours and some seriously busy felines, we were happy with the results.

The next challenge came in how we linked the 3 components together:
  • The physical collectible
  • The CryptoKaiju NFT which contains the provenance/ authenticity information
  • The CryptoKitties NFT linking the collectible to a digital representation.

Our solution was to blend the 2 NFTs together, with the collectible linked to the Kaiju NFT which then references the original Kitty.

The final challenge was how we presented the NFT. If we simply re-used the CryptoKitty design like for like this would look confusing on marketplaces and simply like a Cryptokitties clone. After running some ideas past Dapper, we opted to add a CryptoKaiju branded bandana to our Kitties and do this by overlaying an SVG on top of the CryptoKitties SVG before pushing the file to IPFS

The Kitty toy is stunning, it stands apart from toys by other brands and really brightens up rooms, but we really regret releasing it in August and in hindsight should have waited another month before opening the store for orders: Initially, we thought we were ready, but a week after opening orders, disaster struck when the first off the production line for the Cottoncandy variant were completely the wrong colour, meaning that we had to re-match the colours and test samples before we could resume production. Secondly, we underestimated the delivery time to our office and didn’t factor in delays which ultimately we faced. Shipping 7″ vinyl cats is seriously expensive, so our plan had always been to fly 100 of them and fly/ship the other 200 on a fast boat, for which we were quoted a lead time of 20 days, however, we faced delays at every point. Firstly, despite being sent to the freight forwarders in time, they were not immediately put in a container and we lost a few days to a national holiday in China, however, when landing in Germany we faced serious delays at customs with our precious Kitties sat with customs for over 3 weeks. (The full story is too long for a Medium post, but if anyone wants the full information, drop me an email and I’m happy to share.)

We are confident that the majority of people who ordered a Kitty between August and October have now received theirs and more recent orders are now being dispatched within 48 hours of us receiving the order, but the delays were disappointing and a seriously low point for what otherwise has been a fantastic year of us shipping on time. Having been in the Crypto space for over 6 years and having collected toys for around 20, I (Oliver) am staunchly against lengthy pre-sales having seen these run on for months and in some cases products never materialise. We’ve always wanted to avoid doing the same but ended up doing what we are so against. I sincerely apologise to any customers who faced a considerable delay, I hope you love your toys and assure you that new products will be planned to ensure that even in the worst-case scenario you aren’t waiting for items you’ve paid for.

Spooky

The idea for a Halloween toy was taken from sketch to having the product in our hands in around 10 weeks and came while designing the Sacramento Kings collaboration. We wanted to release another version of the dino design, but do something a little bit different with it so opted to release a glow in the dark figure. We also decided to play with the NFTs, giving Spooky, Halloween themed traits and releasing 3 different designs.

Limited to 100 pcs, Spooky sold out in 2 weeks and 98% of those ordered arrived prior to Halloween, making it our fastest selling release. There’s not a great deal to say about this release, other than it was so fun to work on!

I think considering the popularity of the original dino design and the fun we had in applying it to a holiday, we will do similar things in the future, however, we don’t want to run foul of flooding the markets with the same design, so don’t expect there to be new Kaiju for every holiday. Additionally, if we do run the design again ideally we will make improvements to the feet to make the tags more secure as is the case on Jaiantokoin and Kitty.

Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings are the most technologically innovative sports team in America and are no strangers to cryptocurrency having been the first NBA team to accept Bitcoin as payment in their arena. Early in 2019 we began speaking to their tech team about releasing a figure and after some discussions settled on 2 different styles based on our dino design in the current and classic jersey colours of the Kings. In November the Kings announced the launch of the 100 figures which will be distributed to fans via monthly scavenger hunts with some including additional prizes including courtside seats, VIP tours and signed Kings merchandise.

There are a few differences between the Kings figures and Spooky/Genesis: First, to best match the Pantone references of the jersey colours and produce a more commercial product we opted for harder vinyl which resulted in more of a matte finish which gives them a seriously cool look!

Secondly, as this was the first collectible not directly distributed by us we had to consider the process for claiming the corresponding NFT. For batches sold online by ourselves, we collect Eth addresses during checkout and then manually mint and issue the token, however, with the Kings Kaiju we don’t have visibility on who’s won, or where to send the token. The solution needed to be simple enough for people not familiar with NFTS, give both us and the Kings internal team the visibility needed to arrange prizes and issue tokens and also secure enough so that the competition couldn’t be completely “gamed”. Due to time constraints and to ensure that it was as simple as possible we included a business card sized instruction card which explained the process to winners and opted for a form where they then enter their email address, Eth address and the serial number (NFC ID) of the collectible. This then emails us to notify us where to send the NFT, looks up the ID against a database and notifies the Kings internal team if it is a winner so that the prize can be arranged.

We are extremely proud of the fact that we released the first first physical crypto-collectible in professional sports and feedback from winners so far has been really positive. Good luck to anyone else taking part in the scavenger hunts as they are beautiful Kaiju!

CryptoKaiju has come a long way in just over one year, we’ve really cemented a name within the space, have a small but really loyal following who we love and are so grateful for and we are extremely proud of being the first in the space to have linked physical collectibles to NFTS. It’s impossible to thank everyone who’s made 2019 so brilliant on a Medium post, but there are a few people who deserve a shout out:

James and Andy from Blockrocket for their continued support and amazing work!

The whole Dapper team for their help and support, especially Caty and Benny who answered every single one of my questions and went above and beyond, even going as far as helping us polish designs so the Kitty looked as good as it does.

Ryan and Jake from the Sacramento Kings for approaching us and giving us the incredible opportunity, allowing us to increase our exposure and release a beautiful product which we love.

Amy Jung for allowing us to showcase our creations during EthBerlin and choosing our figures to be used as prizes at the Devcon UX awards.

2020 is impossible to scope out as the NFT space is still so young, when we see opportunities, or have ideas we chase them. If you’d told us this time last year that we’d finish 2019 having produced another 5 SKUs and that we’d have collaborated with an NBA team we wouldn’t have believed it as it was not in our roadmap. While we don’t want to make promises we can’t keep, we can reveal some of the ideas that are in our roadmap for exploring in 2020:

One thing that we can definitely promise for 2020 is more products, we’ve already begun working on 2 designs (The first of which is likely to be released in April/May) and are also working on other exciting pieces of merchandise which will be bundled together as we did with the Kitties toy. If you’ve been paying attention to stickers and our Instagram you’ll be able to work out what the next design will look like!

Our authenticity verification solution works well. To date, the NFC chip we use has not been compromised and we are confident that the anti-collision measures in place by the manufacturer are standing up so that each has a totally unique serial number, however, though our solution works well, having to look up the serial number and then type this into the DAPP is a bit clunky, especially for new users. Going forward we’d like to explore the additional encryption options offered by the chip and make verification easier with an app. Work in this area is at the top of our list of priorities but is very expensive for a startup of our size and development is reliant on sales/ funding.

As we’ve mentioned previously, in theory, our Kitties collectible is the first example of blockchain-powered Amiibo type technology, albeit very rudimentary. One of the most requested feature request we get is expanding on what users can do with their Kaiju and bringing them into a game and though we’d love to build a game that works in a way that incorporates our NFTS, so a user would receive a physical item, load up their NFT and be able to play with it in a virtual world, we aren’t games developers and hiring a team and producing a game would be very costly meaning that though we are keeping the idea in mind, we are unlikely to explore it in the short term, though we are seriously interested in collaborating with other games either to produce physical collectibles based on their I.P, or bringing CryptoKaiju into their games. If you’ve got a game and want to work with us then please reach out!

Since the beginning of 2019, Kaiju owners have been selling or trading their collectibles on secondary markets with sales typically conducted on Bitcointalk/ Ebay/ Telegram groups with the NFTS sent prior to the physical being dispatched. We’ve begun to look at ways in which users can trustlessly trade their Kaiju which we will explore in more detail during 2020.

Working with 3rd parties

Working with a licensed product and with a 3rd party has really allowed us to be innovative and optimise our processes and has also meant we’ve begun to think about the process for claiming NFTS when the physical collectible is not distributed by ourselves, for example, if another toy company was to work with our technology, or if CryptoKaiju were sold by retailers.

If someone was to buy a Kaiju off the shelf how would we distribute the NFT to the customer? As we mentioned above, in the case of the Sacramento Kings we used a form, but this likely wouldn’t work at scale and isn’t the most innovative solution. One option we explored which is really worthy of a mention as it’s such a great product is Linkdrop which allows users to claim an NFT via a URL. We tested this by sending a few Spooky and Kitties with a QR code sticker attached to the packaging which customers then scanned to receive their NFT. This works well for people familiar with Crypto who already have wallets on their phone but in theory could be another hurdle for those new to the space to overcome. The other issue with this solution is that in the hypothetical situation where Kaiju were sat on shelves in a shop, someone could scan the QR code and claim the NFT without purchasing the item. We really want to explore how this would work during 2020, A./ because we’d like to work with 3rd parties again and have already had some initial discussions with another toy company who would like to sell via retailers and B./ Innovations such as claiming NFTS via QR codes could help improve the overall Kaiju experience, even for those who buy online. We mentioned in our initial press release that we’d love to replicate the experience of opening a blind pack of trading cards and receiving your NFT as you receive your physical item would help aid that.

When working on Spooky and the Sacramento Kings toys we also made a back end change that allowed us to bulk mint from a spreadsheet again making it easier to work with other companies who in the case of the Kings were able to send the individual data for each token which we were then able to mint. This is working well and if we were to work with 3rd parties again we would like to improve this further with the view of making it possible for other companies to simply upload their data and mint.

Thanks again to everyone who’s supported our project, here’s to 2020!

It’s been a while since we last […]

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