Amazon Leads $20 Million Round in Superplastic, Amazon Studios Developing Show Around Janky & Guggimon Characters

Amazon Studios inks first-look TV, film deal with firm that designs "synthetic celebrities"

Superplastic - Janky & Guggimon Show
Courtesy of Superplastic

A pair of virtual celebrities — the “lazy and spectacularly incompetent” Janky and Guggimon — could be starring in Amazon’s next Prime Video original series.

Amazon announced that it is leading a $20 million investment round in character-design studio and art toy maker Superplastic, and alongside the funding Amazon Studios signed a first-look TV and film pact with Superplastic.

Under the first-look deal, Amazon Studios currently is in early development on “The Janky & Guggimon Show,” featuring Superplastic’s two most famous synthetic celebrities. Per the companies, the show follows the adventures of “two lazy and spectacularly incompetent best friends who are hell-bent on getting rich and famous but leave a trail of chaos and destruction in their wake.”

The cat-like Janky is described as a “lovable idiot who spends his spare time scamming celebrities,” while the rabbit-esque Guggimon (who displays disturbingly sharp teeth) is a “fashion icon and master manipulator who’s too narcissistic to care.” The show features a cast of animated and human celebrity friends; Amazon Studios didn’t provide additional details on the project.

The development of “The Janky & Guggimon Show” comes after Superplastic first built the characters into social media stars: Janky has 1 million Instagram followers and Guggimon had 1.5 million.

Superplastic founder and CEO Paul Budnitz previously founded toy venture Kidrobot, and inked Kidrobot film deals with Paramount and MGM that never came to fruition. He started Superplastic in 2017, and embarked on a strategy to turn his company’s toy creations into social media personalities.

“Superplastic’s universe of synthetic celebrities have earned a cult following in every medium they’ve touched,” Budnitz said in a statement. “The new collaboration partnership with Amazon Studios reaches a massive audience and provides a new playground for us to wreak havoc worldwide. We’re grateful for the investment the Amazon Alexa Fund gave us to help us continue to grow the Superplastic Universe!”

Characters created and managed by Burlington, Vt.-based Superplastic appear in social media, music, gaming, high-end collectibles, fashion, animated entertainment, NFTs (nonfungible tokens) and live experiences. The company has collaborated with partners including Epic Games’ Fortnite, Gucci, Mercedes-Benz, Tommy Hilfiger, Christie’s, J. Balvin, Kidsuper, Pusha-T, Paris Hilton, Post Malone, The Weeknd, Vince Staples and Rico Nasty.

Amazon’s Alexa Fund venture-capital arm led Superplastic’s $20 million Series A extension investment round, which brings its total funding to $58 million to date. Other investors in the round included Craft Ventures, Google Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Kering, Sony Japan, Scribble Ventures, Kakao, Animoca Brands, Day One Ventures and Betaworks Ventures.

The Alexa Fund is Amazon’s VC fund that invests in smart electronics, ambient computing, AI, and media and entertainment. Amazon originally established the fund in 2015 to spur the development of voice applications for the Alexa voice assistant.

“As we expand the Alexa Fund to address a wider range of consumer technologies that include ambient computing, smart devices and the future of entertainment, we’re very excited to add Superplastic to our portfolio,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, in a statement. “Superplastic’s virtual celebrities delight audiences and meet their customers where they are, and we see them as demonstrative of a new class of IP that is going to be increasingly relevant with younger generations.”