Vancouver-based toy company Toymint just announced the release of 2,500 collectible teddies that unlock a “3D NFT avatar” and access to a metaverse world game for kids.
If that sounds familiar you may have grown up in the early 2000s. A.K.A. the age of Webkinz.
Sure, Beanie Baby may have been the first plush collectible sensation. Twenty years ago they were first introduced at the 1993 World Toy Fair but in 2005, Canadian toy company Ganz launched a collection of stuffed animals with online counterparts that lived in a virtual game world. Within a year, Webkinz had over one million users in Canada and the U.S.
The Webkinz world is still accessible online and kids can choose between “WebKinz Classic” (What the 2000s babies grew up on) or “Webkinz Next” which uses 3D animation. But Toymint claims they are focused on “building better toys for future generations that aren't disposable.”
In a recent press release, Toymint writes that each Minted Teddy toy is “built to hold its value and last far beyond the lifespan of the typical toy” and asserts that merging the virtual and physical worlds is integral to the future of toys and play.
Unlike Webkinz which had dozens of colourful animal characters made from soft materials, the limited-edition Minted Teddies are hard-shell toys with articulated limbs, a magnetic head, and 24K gold-plated stainless steel coin in its back. They are also only available as physical toys in black and white.
Once connected to the online world designed by Italian artist Claudio Bellini with a smartphone the teddy can be customized. The first 100 teddies were launched in December 2021 and another 1,000 were released in January 2022. The latest release comes with new space-themed styles and objects online.
Only 11,111 teddies will be made in total according to Toymint.
“We envisioned a safe place for online learning and play that incorporates art and emerging technology, where communities can be built, creativity can flourish, and where dreams and ideas can come to life,” says founder and CEO of Toymint Zoran Kovacevic. “The toys that children play with can teach them values and lessons that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Toys and play have the potential to change the course of history and should be created thoughtfully and with this in mind.”