‘We couldn’t be more excited about what we’re building together’ – Miami entrepreneur Will Weinraub
By Nancy Dahlberg
Are Barbie, American Girl or the Masters of the Universe coming soon to a toy metaverse near you? You bet.
Miami-based OnChain Studios and toy giant Mattel announced today a global, multi-year partnership for OnChain’s Cryptoys NFT platform, which is bringing in a new generation of digital toys that will live on the blockchain. The partnership will invite Mattel’s iconic brands into a collectible, interactive world through Cryptoys’ expansive metaverse, ushering in a new era for the toy and game industry on the Flow blockchain, said Will Weinraub, co-founder and CEO of OnChain Studios.
“This is an incredibly meaningful partnership for us,” Weinraub told Refresh Miami. “Mattel is a company whose toys I played with when I was a kid and one that now my own kids continue to play with every single day. Their brands are absolutely iconic but beyond that what they stand for as a company made Mattel the perfect partner for us. We couldn’t be more excited about what we’re building together,”
As OnChain’s flagship product, Cryptoys started out as Weinraub’s passion project with his young daughter before he decided to go all-in and bring his former co-founders back together. Cryptoys are fully digital NFT (non-fungible token) toys that consumers will be able to buy, sell, collect and play with inside an immersive world built on the blockchain. Each Cryptoy can gain capabilities as it is played with and unlock new fun experiences.
Weinraub also signaled last year that the startup planned to open up the platform to other companies. ““That’s going to be cool – you might see some really recognizable characters that will be in the Cryptoyverse,” he said in an earlier interview with Refresh Miami. That didn’t take long.
WHAT’S AHEAD THIS YEAR
Cryptoys’ summer launch will feature original character drops, followed soon by the first of many Mattel drops, including some the companies’ most beloved and stories brands and characters, Weinraub said. Further details on initial Mattel brands that will be involved and financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
“As owners of one of the largest portfolios of children and family entertainment franchises in the world, and as the first toy company to launch NFTs, we are seeing incredible opportunity in the Metaverse for our cherished and iconic IP,” Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel, said about the 77-year-old company that sells some of the world’s most popular toys and games in more than 150 countries.
Dickson continues, “Mattel is continually stretching and scaling our brands to find the bridges between traditional toys and what’s next. We are excited to be expanding in this fast-growing space and to be the only toy company on the Cryptoys platform, giving fans of all ages new ways to be inspired by the Mattel brands they love.”
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Miami is now exploding with crypto and NFT enthusiasts, but Weinraub’s interest in NFTs reaches back several years when people thought he was “going off the deep end” when he would pull out his phone to show people a digital panda he was working on with his young daughter to build something cool together, show her what it was like to build software, and expose her to entrepreneurship. But with three kids, he had a front-row seat to the toy industry, and got immersed in the possibilities that NFTs could bring. The Weinraub kids are happy to help with the market testing and deliver user feedback, too.
Since announcing OnChain’s launch and $7.5 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz last October, the OnChain team has doubled to 40 people, including Web3 engineers, Unity developers, 3D artists, animators and a marketing team.
Along with CEO Weinraub, the founding OnChain Studios team includes his two co-founders from his former startup, LiveNinja – CTO Emilio Cueto and Alfonso Martinez as Chief Experience Officer. Co-founders also include Freddy Oropeza (Chief Creative Officer), who brings 3D graphics and gaming expertise, and COO Jhonathan Torres, an FIU alum with tech and finance operational experience. Weinraub, a #MiamiTech OG who sold the LiveNinja messaging platform to Net2Phone in 2017, is also a founding partner of the startup investment group Flamingo Capital and leads Local Leaders Collective, a YPO-style organization for startup founders. “I feel blessed to be building OnChain Studios with such an incredible team.”
Cryptoys too are coming soon, including the beloved panda, corgi and kitty. “The first drop of our genesis line is coming out in the near future and we are working on a number of other big licensing deals that we are set to announce in the coming months,” Weinraub said. “We want Cryptoys to be the on-ramp that makes it fun and easy for everyone to collect and play.”
You’ll have to wait and see which Mattel toy avatars will be among the first to drop into the Cryptoyverse, or drive or chug in if it’s Hot Wheels or Thomas & Friends, but all are welcome in this new Web3 world of toys and gaming.
READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI:
- OnChain Studios raises $7.5M seed round led by a16a to develop Cryptoys NFT platform
- Finnt raises $3.5M seed to help cross-border families to send, save and spend money
- Teal raises $6.5M seed round to grow career platform empowering job seekers
- New autonomous vehicle command center opens in Boca Raton
- Seedfunders launches in Miami, makes first investment: HeartOut
- Jeanine Suah launches Rezilyent Capital to empower underestimated founders and investors
- There’s a lot of Miami in Michael Sayman’s first startup. He just raised $3M to build it.
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org