NFTs can represent digital artwork and media, but they can also cultivate community—and give holders a real say in a project’s future.
The Gimmicks is the latest example of that approach in action. Hailing in part from actress Mila Kunis’ production studio, it’s an animated series that uses Solana NFTs to let fans shape the storyline and character arcs over time.
Developed by Web3 animation studio Toonstar in partnership with Kunis’ Sixth Wall, The Gimmicks is an animated web series about washed-up professional wrestlers trying to get back into the spotlight of the squared circle.
Toonstar CEO John Attanasio described it to Decrypt as “South Park meets WWE, but interactive and greasier.” The Gimmicks came about after pro wrestlers Luke “Doc” Gallows and Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson were released by WWE as the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“They reached out about collaborating on some animated shorts for social media, so that they could get their stories out and keep their creative juices flowing (and preserve their sanity),” Attanasio told Decrypt.
From there, Toonstar began developing the concept for The Gimmicks, which features voice acting from Gallows and Anderson alongside fellow wrestlers FKA Enzo Amore and Rocky Romero. Comedy writers Dave Ihlenfeld and David Wright—who have worked on Family Guy and Star Trek: Lower Decks—will pen the series.
The Gimmicks follows in the footsteps of Stoner Cats, the Ethereum-based animated series that was funded by the sale of NFTs last July. That project was created by Kunis’ Orchard Farm Productions with voice actors like Kunis, her Husband Ashton Kutcher, and Jane Fonda in the mix—along with guests like Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.
Now, Orchard Farm’s recently-established Sixth Wall digital arm is collaborating with Toonstar on this Solana-based counterpart.
Sixth Wall partner Lisa Sterbakov described The Gimmicks as “an iteration on the Stoner Cats [concept] with the ability for even more community engagement and audience interaction.”
There's enough talent in Chico's family alone for a 2 night Wrestlemania #Smackdown @azucarRoc pic.twitter.com/MicnvtJUkK
— The Gimmicks (@therealgimmicks) March 5, 2022
“No one has the ideas that push the potential of Web3 or create content as fun as Toonstar does, and no one can turn around content as quickly,” Kunis told Decrypt. “The Gimmicks allows us to experiment with what it looks like to create in and around a community, taking the tech seriously but keeping the content fun.”
The Gimmicks announce free NFT Mint
Toonstar and Sixth Wall will launch 10,000 Solana NFTs—each depicting a unique character—to build the community around the project, with the public mint taking place on March 18.
Unlike Stoner Cats, which sold its Ethereum NFTs for about $785 worth of ETH apiece, The Gimmicks’ NFTs will all be free to mint (with the only cost being Solana's transaction fee).
“We felt that offering a free mint would encourage a much broader range of participation by lowering the cost of entry into our crazy world,” said Attanasio. “Our goal is to help create a new generation of franchise IP with blockchain communities, so we believe monetization will come in various forms if we build character worlds that people love and want to be part of.”
At the end of each episode of The Gimmicks, NFT holders will be able to vote on which story path the next segment will take. It’s a similar “choose your own adventure” inspired design as Shibuya, the recently-unveiled Ethereum-based video platform co-created by NFT artist Emily “pplpleasr” Yang.
The Gimmicks will also feature an on-chain social layer called “DIC Punch”—the acronym referring to a Decentralized Inclusive Community—that Attanasio described as “our version of the Facebook poke, but harder.” Each NFT holder’s interactions will be recorded on the blockchain, with a leaderboard to highlight top contributors.
Attanasio said that Toonstar picked Solana for its low transaction fees—key to the functionality of the on-chain social layer—and lesser environmental impact than some rival blockchain platforms (like Ethereum). The studio aims to “engage both degens and newbies alike” with The Gimmicks, he explained, and chose its platform accordingly.
Unlike Stoner Cats, The Gimmicks’ video content won’t be entirely exclusive to NFT holders, although they will gain access to episodes before the wider public. Kunis suggested that The Gimmicks offers an accessible way for new users to begin interacting with Web3 and NFTs.
“It goes along with our mission of onboarding new people into Web3,” Kunis said. “We know the NFT-curious can be afraid to jump in, but Toonstar's ideas, tech, and content, combined with the low transaction fees and low environmental impact of the Solana blockchain, make this an easy entry point.”