Toy brand Mattel recently announced a partnership with non-fungible token (NFT) platform Cryptoys to turn its iconic intellectual property, which includes Barbie and Hot Wheels, into avatar-like digital collectibles for use in games. This week, the children’s channel Nickelodeon began promoting its first NFT experience, which is expected to launch this Summer. The developments highlight the increasing scope of NFTs as children’s entertainment products.
Mattel, NFTs and the metaverse
Cryptoys, was developed by Miami-based OnChain Studios, which is backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Dapper Labs, amongst others. Using the Flow blockchain, it’s targeting the casual web game sector as opposed to a fully immersive 3D metaverse experience. Mattel and Cryptoys are interested in exploring how NFTs can become the foundation for the “future of toys”, where users buy a virtual Barbie to play within a game.
“We want to be at the forefront of that evolution of toys in both the physical and digital worlds,” Mattel’s president, Richard Dickson, told Fast Company. “Our business leads us to wherever the consumer is, and that includes the metaverse and NFTs.”
Mattel is the first toy brand to partner with Cryptoys. The toy company first expressed interest in NFTs in April 2021, and in June it became the first toy manufacturer to mint NFTs. In November, it dropped a Hot Wheels collection, followed by a luxury digital collection of Barbie NFTs in partnership with fashion house Balmain.
The company’s first collection started the conversation about NFT products with children as the target audience. The following two drops, Hot Wheels and Barbie’s, seemed more targeted at wealthy collectors than kids. This partnership with Cryptoys brings the conversation back to how digital collectibles can be engaging for kids or a preferential form of online play for parents.
As for Nickelodeon’s collection, it is being developed in partnership with Recur. Nickelodeon is part of Viacom CBS, which announced a deal with Recur in October.
Hints dropped by Nickelodeon on Twitter imply the channel’s 90s content inspires the project with references to nostalgia. The 90’s Nickelodeon audience is likely in their late 20s and early 30s today, which is more in line with typical NFT consumers. It is still unclear whether the experience will be structured to engage young children or target the audience that used to watch the shows.