Stuffed sharks and toy soldiers: the strangest things British eccentrics have tried to insure

Wine, whisky and stamp collections, fine artwork, Beatles memorabilia and antique golf clubs are other curios successfully insured by Direct Line.

Full-sized replicas of Chinese Terracotta Army soldiers, stuffed sharks and a toy soldier collection worth more than £10,000 are some of the trickiest treasures insurers have been asked to cover.

Other odd items that their owners want covered include dead tigers, artwork from anonymous artist Banksy and a collection of teddy bears from the German designer Richard Steiff, who invented the cuddly toys.

Wine, whisky and stamp collections, fine artwork, Beatles memorabilia and antique golf clubs are other curios successfully insured by Direct Line.

The firm estimates that we own almost £222bn of collectibles worth more than £500 each. Two-thirds of the population own such items, around a quarter…

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Designer Toy Company Superplastic Secures $10 Million

Founders Fund’s Cyan Banister, Global Village, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, Shrug Capital, and …
  • Cult designer toy brand Superplastic recently announced it raised $10 million in funding and launched an innovative animated entertainment division

Superplastic — a cult designer toy brand — recently announced it raised $10 million in funding and launched an innovative animated entertainment division focused on bringing its popular characters to life. And the company’s first two synthetic celebrities (Janky and Guggimon) also dropped on Instagram recently.

The $10 million funding round was led by Craft Ventures — which is a venture capital firm founded by David O. Sacks (Yammer founder and former CEO) and Bill Lee (a serial entrepreneur who was the co-founder of two companies that sold for more than a combined $1 billion). Founders Fund’s Cyan Banister, Global Village, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, Shrug Capital, and many others had also joined the round.

Superplastic already has an obsessed fanbase and the designer toys based on Janky and Guggimon routinely sell out in minutes on the Superplastic online store.

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“The old studio model for animated entertainment is dead,” said Superplastic CEO Paul Budnitz — who is also known for creating the 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 worked with art director Huck Gee 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,” added Gee. “Janky’s just a screw up that wants to be famous.”

Both of the animated characters interact with fans, human celebrities, and each other on social media. By giving Janky and Guggimon lives on social media, it also opened up new avenues for revenue far beyond traditional character licensing. And they earn fees like real life influencers and Superplastic is in talks with global fashion brands about partnerships. Plus 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 Montreal Mural Festival in 2020.

Since appropriating social media as an entertainment platform required completely rethinking the traditionally slow animation process, the team hired top animators from Hollywood, then retooled the technology, and created innovative workflows that allow characters to respond quickly to fans and whatever’s trending online.

“Superplastic is disrupting the way we think about celebrity and media,” explained Lee. “It’s a totally unique integrated vision, from toys to entertainment to what’s happening right now on Instagram.”

Banister agreed with Lee:

“Superplastic is the next Marvel, reinvented for the new millennium.”

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Superplastic Announces $10MM in Funding and Launches Two New Synthetic Celebrities

… 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:

@janky

@guggimon

@superplastic

About Superplastic

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.

https://www.superplastic.co

@superplastic

SOURCE Superplastic

Related Links

http://www.superplastic.co

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Superplastic Raises $10 Million to Turn Janky and Guggimon Into Animated Instagram Stars …

… with participation from Founders Fund’s Cyan Banister, Global Village, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, …

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.

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, Global Village, Betaworks, Index Ventures, Canaan, Scooter Braun, Kevin Weil, Scott Belsky, Shrug Capital, and many others.

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The Color War: Semple versus Kapoor

In 2016, Kapoor bought the exclusive rights to Vantablack. Why does it matter? Vantablack is unlike any black in the world. It absorbs 99.96% of the …

Color is powerful. Studies show that colors have a big effect on our mood, productivity, and even how we eat. If you are an artist, even if it’s just a coloring book to help you relax, you know the power of color on a personal level. Beginning in 2016, a bizarre color war broke out between two artists: Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor. The Semple versus Kapoor feud revolves around one color in particular, but it’s really about accessibility in art, with a hit of old-fashioned pettiness, as well.

The artists

In 1954, Kapoor was born in India and moved to England in the 1970’s, where he studied art. He made a name for himself creating sculptures and experimenting with negative space. Some of his best-known works include Cloud Gate at the Chicago Millennium Park (known as the “bean”) and a towering spiral ladder for the London Olympics. In 2013, he was knighted for his achievements in art.

Stuart Semple was born in Dorset in 1980. He first got interested in art after visiting the National Gallery with his mother and seeing Van Gogh. He went to school to study art and in 1999, he became one of the first artists to use the internet and experiment with digital art. His style incorporates text and pop art.

Paint it black

In 2016, Kapoor bought the exclusive rights to Vantablack. Why does it matter? Vantablack is unlike any black in the world. It absorbs 99.96% of the light that hits it, so to the naked eye, it looks like a black hole. The color is produced using a complex technological process that involves an antigravity chamber. It actually “grows” and because it absorbs so much light – more light than any other black – it gets extremely hot. Surrey NanoSystems created it. When Kapoor bought the rights, the scientists revamped Vantablack so it would be slightly easier to actually use. Now, it doesn’t need to grow, it can be sprayed on surfaces, but it’s still a complicated, haphazard process. Kapoor is the only person in the world who can use this black. He’s only made one piece of art with it – a $95,000 watch with Vantablack painted on the face.

The “blacklash”

When Stuart Semple learned that Kapoor had bought exclusive rights to a color, the Semple versus Kapoor feud began. Semple is all about accessibility. He mixes his own pigments and sells them online for very cheap. To make a statement, Semple created a pink paint (“Pinkest Pink”) and started selling it, but only if the person buying it signed a waiver stating they were not Anish Kapoor and they were not buying it for Kapoor. Sales flooded in, with people labeling their work with #sharetheblack. Then, Kapoor responded. He posted a picture of his middle finger, dipped in Pinkest Pink, with the caption, “Up yours.”

Black is the new black

The Semple versus Kapoor feud got kicked up a notch. Semple was annoyed that Kapoor had gotten his hands on the pink paint, and so decided to respond again. This time, Semple created a new black. After creating Black 2.0, he’s now perfected his paint and called it Black 3.0. Unlike Kapoor’s black, Black 3.0 is handled like regular ol’ acrylic paint. It still absorbs between 98-99% of visible light, so it’s practically identical to Vantablack, at least to the naked eye. Like Pinkest Pink, Semple will not sell Black 3.0 to Kapoor.

What’s the point? Is Semple just being a jerk, or is Kapoor the real villain? Maybe they both are, depending on who you are. Semple is making a statement about the art world at large with his affordable, accessible paints. He doesn’t make money from his pigments. The exclusivity of Kapoor’s paint and the concept of hoarding a color really bothers him. For now, it looks like the Semple versus Kapoor feud is at a standstill. Semple released his new Black 3.0 in January 2019, and there’s been no response from Kapoor. Yet.

———-

All colors evolve over time in how they are created and what they mean to people. Click here to read about some of them.

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