BURLINGTON, Vt., July 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Cult designer toy brand Superplastic announced new funding today and launched an innovative animated entertainment division focused on bringing its popular characters to life. The company's first two synthetic celebrities, Janky and Guggimon, officially dropped today on Instagram.
Craft Ventures led the $10M Series A with participation from luminary investors including Founders Fund's Cyan Banister, Global Village, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, Shrug Capital, and many others.
Superplastic has already earned an obsessed fanbase. Designer toys based on Janky and Guggimon routinely sell out in minutes on the Superplastic online store. For well-known artist and CEO Paul Budnitz, bringing the characters to life was the next logical step.
"The old studio model for animated entertainment is dead," says Budnitz, who also created cult toy brand Kidrobot and the social network Ello. "Big studios kill innovation, and nothing gets made. We decided to skip the studios and go directly to our fans, by giving our characters lives on social media."
Budnitz and art director Huck Gee worked on Janky and Guggimon for over a year, using celebrities like Kanye West and David Bowie as models.
"Guggimon is an artist that's obsessed with fashion, handbags, and horror movies," says Gee. "Janky's just a screw up that wants to be famous." Both animated characters interact with fans, human celebrities, and each other on social media.
Appropriating social media as an entertainment platform required completely rethinking the traditionally slow animation process. The team hired top animators from Hollywood, then retooled technology, creating innovative workflows that allow characters to respond quickly to fans and whatever's trending online.
Giving Janky and Guggimon lives on social media also opened up new avenues for revenue far beyond traditional character licensing. They earn fees like real life influencers, and Superplastic is in talks with global fashion brands about partnerships. In addition, the company is collaborating with well-known artists a Janky art show in NYC in late 2019, and Guggimon is the first synthetic artist invited to participate in the prestigious Montreal Mural Festival in 2020.
"Superplastic is disrupting the way we think about celebrity and media," says lead investor Bill Lee, co-founder and general partner at Craft Ventures. "It's a totally unique integrated vision, from toys to entertainment to what's happening right now on Instagram."
Founders Fund investor Cyan banister agrees: "Superplastic is the next Marvel, reinvented for the new millennium."
Janky and Guggimon officially debut on today on Instagram, with more characters coming later this year. In the meantime, almost everything is sold out at Superplastic.co.
For more information on Janky, Guggimon, and Superplastic, follow them on Instagram:
Superplastic is a character-based product and animated entertainment company founded in 2018 by well-known artist & entrepreneur Paul Budnitz (Kidrobot, Ello). Legendary toy artist Huck Gee is art director. Famed for its always-sold-out designer toy line, the company unleashed synthetic celebrities Janky and Guggimon on social media in 2019.
Superplastic is based in Burlington, Vermont because it's awesome there.