×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Superplastic Raises $10 Million to Turn Janky and Guggimon Into Animated Instagram Stars (EXCLUSIVE)

Superplastic, the designer toy brand launched by Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz, has raised a $10 million Series A round of funding to turn two of its characters into animated digital media stars: Starting Tuesday, the company’s Janky and Guggimon characters will come to life on Instagram, where they will publish animated videos, interact with their fans and more.

“Our characters live their lives on social media,” Budnitz told Variety during a recent interview. “It’s like making a movie that never ends.”

Superplastic’s character’s Janky and Guggimon recently teased their animation debut on Instagram.

Budnitz’s focus on social media comes after attempts to work with Hollywood failed at his previous venture, Kidrobot. Founded in 2002, Kidrobot quickly became one of the most recognizable brands in the designer and urban toy space, which also attracted the attention of the entertainment industry.

“Different studios in Hollywood kept optioning our characters,” Budnitz recalled. This included plans for a series of feature films at Paramount, and a Kidrobot movie at MGM. “The issue was that nothing would get made,” complained Budnitz.

Popular on Variety

Guggimon
CREDIT: Courtesy of Superplastic

Superplastic’s Guggimon character.

That’s why he decided to take matters into his own hands at Superplastic, which he founded in 2017. Instead of partnering with a traditional studio, Budnitz went out and hired 10 animators. The team is being headed by Jared Johnson, who previously worked as a character animator on “Jurassic Park,” and includes illustrator Mark Gmehling. Superplastic’s art director is well-known toy designer Huck Gee.

Together, the team has been focused on developing adventures for Janky and Guggimon, two of the company’s most popular characters. The duo will use Instagram to unveil their story, react to each other, and even interact with fans.

Janky
CREDIT: Courtesy of Superplastic

Superplastic’s Janky character.

Superplastic wants to continue to make money with toy sales, but Butnitz said that the expansion into digital media was also opening up additional revenue opportunities. This includes licensing its characters, and also brand endorsement deals similar to those of Instagram influencers.

However, Budnitz said that he’s not interested in turning Janky and Guggimon into synthetic digital influencers like Lil Miquela. “They’re not humans,” he said. Instead, the duo was clearly living the lives of toys, with a plot, and some twists to boot. “One of the characters has an alter ego,” Budnitz teased.

Superplastic’s Series A was headed by Craft Ventures, with participation from Founders Fund’s Cyan Banister, Village Global, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, Shrug Capital, and many others.

More Digital

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • Bernie Sanders Trump win

    Bernie Sanders Vows to Break Up Comcast, Verizon & AT&T: 'Their Greed Must End'

    Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled plans to launch publicly-funded broadband networks and break up big internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T Thursday. “Their greed must end,” the Sanders campaign wrote in its high-speed internet policy proposal. The campaign argued that high-speed internet access should be treated as a public utility, [...]

  • The Office

    Streaming Wars Heat Up Rerun Market as New Services Stock Up on Hits

    In a year in which more than 500 scripted series are on the air and new streaming services seem to debut nearly monthly, some of the biggest money being thrown around for content has gone to a handful of old TV shows, the kind that for years have hummed along evening television without much fuss. [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' Nabs 17.1 Million U.S. Viewers on Netflix in First Five Days, per Nielsen

    Martin Scorsese’s mafia saga “The Irishman” was watched by 17.1 million unique Netflix viewers in the U.S. in the first five days of its streaming release, according to Nielsen estimates. By comparison, Sandra Bullock-starrer “Bird Box” scored nearly 26 million U.S. viewers in its first seven days of availability (Dec. 21-27, 2018) on Netflix, according [...]

  • Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on

    Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on Their International Plans

    It’s different strokes for different streaming folks as Amazon, HBO Max and Netflix lifted the lid on their international plans in London this week. Amazon said it’s not in the volume game and talked up a select number of hyper-local shows, while Netflix dished on plans to rev up non-English-language originals. The message from HBO [...]

  • NOBODY’S LOOKING

    Daniel Rezende on Netflix Brazilian Series ‘Nobody’s Looking’

    Having premiered on Netflix Nov. 22, “Nobody’s Looking” marks the first collaboration between Gullane and Netflix – their second, “Boca a Boca” is in development- and comes from a long list of new projects that the streaming giant has announced with it’s $87 Million investment in Brazilian content. The series embodies the streaming platform’s push [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content