Following last year’s launch of “The Gimmicks” with actress Mila Kunis’ production studio, Web3 animation studio Toonstar is back with “Space Junk,” another animated web series that uses NFTs to enable creative collaboration and participation.
This time around, “Napoleon Dynamite” star Jon Heder is attached as a voice actor.
“Space Junk” is billed as a workplace comedy set amongst the stars, following the people tasked with cleaning up debris from spacecraft. “Workaholics” co-creator Dominic Russo told Decrypt that the idea came from reading about and becoming “lightly obsessed” with creating a funny cartoon show around what is actually a real-world space hazard.
“So much of sci-fi is sexy and sleek, and everyone's got the perfect velour outfit with the perfect body in it,” Russo said. “I don't think space is gonna be like that. I think space is gonna be blue-collar workers fixing stuff, and it's not going to be as sexy as we think—or want it to be.”
“They pitched it to me, and I just thought it was a really funny idea—very timely, and kind of a cool idea, not just for the concept of the show,” Heder told Decrypt.
In addition to Heder—who’s also known for films “Blades of Glory” and “Just Like Glory”—the series will feature voice acting by Tony Cavalero from “The Righteous Gemstones” and “School of Rock.”
He also described it as an intriguing opportunity to work on a show built around Web3 distribution methods. Heder, who co-founded Web3 agency and studio Verified Labs, has worked on other projects in the space, as well—including the upcoming NFT-driven animated series “Cyko KO,” as well as his own Order of the Tigons NFT art project that also recently launched an experience in metaverse game The Sandbox.
Like the pro wrestling-themed “The Gimmicks,” which debuted early last year in collaboration with Kunis’ Sixth Wall studio, “Space Junk” will launch a mint for NFTs that viewers can use to vote on narrative decisions, interact with the creators and other fans, and develop their own storylines for characters that live on an official wiki.
Access to the show itself will not be token-gated, however: anyone can watch it for free starting May 19. Toonstar plans to release biweekly episodes, with the season spanning eight episodes at about 10-14 minutes apiece. It’s a slower release cadence than the weekly “Gimmicks” season, but with each episode about double the length.
“Space Junk” will mint its NFTs on Theta Network on May 15, with each NFT selling for $20. Supply details have not been announced.
“The Gimmicks” began life on Solana last year before moving to Avalanche for the second season, but Toonstar CEO and co-founder John Attanasio said to expect similar functionality for the “Space Junk” NFTs on Theta.
The show will also lean into the latest buzzy tech world talking point, artificial intelligence (AI), with an in-universe AI wellness robot named Wellbecca… which will be voiced on the show by an AI chatbot. The Wellbecca AI bot will also be used for real-world community engagement, Attanasio said, to let “Space Junk” NFT holders co-create their own short stories.
Animated series are increasingly casting actors of the same ethnicity to voice their fictional counterparts, following pushback to characters like Apu from “The Simpsons” or Diane from “BoJack Horseman” voiced by white actors. It’s the same kind of thing, Attanasio claimed.
“She's a robot,” he said, “so why shouldn’t she be voiced by AI technology?”