Even during a crypto
when non-fungible token sales are down, the price of one Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT still remains above six figures while Bored Ape holders party at Ape Fest and NFT.NYC this week.
But for all the hype around the digital assets, 18-year-old Ricky da Luz discovered how to tap into the space with physical items. A passionate toy designer, he began messaging Bored Ape NFT holders on Twitter, offering to make them toy replicas of their Apes for free.
Before launching IsmToys, he saved about $10,000 mowing lawns and used that capital to make the initial free toys to give to people in the Bored Ape community, da Luz told Insider at the NFT.NYC conference Thursday.
His first Bored Ape toy was commissioned in January for about $400. Fast forward today, and he is the founder of IsmToys, which he runs with his dad, Tony da Luz, and a team of six staff.
“We’re tripling down on helping Web2 companies enter the Web3 space, while also converting their audience into Web3 people,” the younger da Luz said. “We link the toys to actual NFTs and the digital assets act as authenticators for the toys.”
He said his company so far has cleared over $700,000 in toy revenue, which comes from a combination of commissioned, one-of-a-kind creations that sell for an average of $700 (though some can be as much as $2,400) and various other toys that can range from $50 to $200.
Da Luz said 99% of IsmToys’ transactions are done in ethereum. Transaction receipts were reviewed by Insider on Etherscan.
Since January, IsmToys has received commissions for more than 300 one-of-a-kind toys, but the NFT.NYC conference has bolstered prospects. For the next month alone, they have over 200 orders on deck.
IsmToys also mints NFTs that then act as an authenticator for people to receive the coinciding physical toy. IsmToys minted a series of 888 “Golemz,” and it brought in $300,000 in 96 seconds, da Luz said.
And last month, the company minted 400 Bored Ape chess sets and accompanying NFTs — priced at $400 each — and they sold out in less than 24 hours.
Leaning into Bored Apes
Last year, he had reached out to 100 users on Twitter who had Bored Ape NFTs as their profile pictures, and about five replied.
One Bored Ape holder, @phibacka31, accepted da Luz’s free toy, and then showed it to other holders and spread the word.
“Without the Bored Ape community, IsmToys wouldn’t exist,” da Luz said.
In the traditional internet space, if you were to offer a toy to a celebrity, it wouldn’t even get noticed. But in Web3, more users are likely to take a chance on something, he said.
Within the Bored Ape community in particular, da Luz added, members have an extremely strong bond with the brand, so that’s why he reached out to them first. And some go by their internet names, saying they identify more with their web names than birth names.
“I’ve kinda identified myself as my Bored Ape now,” a Bored Ape NFT holder who goes by @dejen_art online told Insider at the NFT.NYC conference. “Ricky’s toys really bring the digital world into the physical world, and seeing that art come to life is just incredible.”
Her husband, who goes by @nftgerry, agreed and said he wasn’t surprised that the online community embraced da Luz and his toys.
“Anytime someone’s emotionally attached to something, even just a photo of something, you want to see it and celebrate it all the time,” he told Insider. “I’m emotionally attached to my Ape, so having toys of my Ape is reinforcing my emotional attachment to my digital persona.”
The custom toys are something that people can relate to since the physical world is still what people know best, da Luz said.
“A lot of people think the metaverse is cool, but ultimately we’re still in the physical world, and we have physical things,” he said. “So having something you can touch, a physical representation of your identity is huge.”