What are CrypToadz?

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Robert has reported for a variety of international publications including the Associated Press, The Guardian, Vice, and Decrypt. Current areas of interest include the political economy of technology, cryptocurrencies, and privacy. Robert has a Bachelor of Science from UCL, and a Master's degree from the University of Oxford's Internet Institute.

CrypToadz might not look very pretty, but they are immensely valuable, and are one of the latest profile picture NFT collections to go viral. As of mid-October 2021, the project is the twelfth-most popular non-fungible project of all time, having raked in $135 million to date since its launch a month earlier. But what are the CrypToadz, what’s the trend they’re part of and how can you buy one? Read on to find out.

CrypToadz are NFTs, or, non-fungible tokens. These are cryptocurrency tokens, based on a blockchain, that represent ownership over a digital or physical asset. In the case of CrypToadz, it’s a picture of a one of 6969 squat pixelated toads. People pay a lot of money for NFTs due to their scarcity, and because you can prove who owns them. No matter how many times a CrypToad changes hands, you can trace the original owner on the blockchain. This record will persist for as long as the Ethereum blockchain does.

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The NFT industry is a fast-growing one, and CrypToadz is one of hundreds of so-called profile picture NFTs, named as such due to their popularity as profile pictures on social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Setting a CrypToad as your profile picture is quite the statement, and the owners hope that doing so proves that they have their fingers on the pulse and that they own an exclusive item that captures the zeitgeist.

Critics of NFTs maintain that all this is pointless; that the market is part of a speculative bubble that will pop the moment people realise that paying tens of thousands of dollars for a reproducible picture of a toad isn’t worth their money.

What are CrypToadz?

At their core, CrypToadz are not so different to the other profile picture NFT projects. A limited number of variants on a theme, in this case 6969 pixelated toads, are released to a captive audience who snap them up for 0.69 ETH each and hold them. (The number 69 is likely chosen due to its crudeness; Dogecoin fans, for instance, clamoured for the price of their coin to rise to $0.69 on 4/20, the annual celebration of marijuana culture).

The pixel-based images are a riff on CryptoPunks, the most popular profile picture-based NFT project. There are 10,000 CryptoPunks, and, like the CrypToadz, some are of different colours, some smoke cigarettes and others wear headpieces. CrypToadz comes with some specific features: some, for instance, have flies buzzing above them.

A couple of things distinguish CrypToadz from other projects. The first is its lore. The project’s pseudonymous creators claim that the Toadz are “small amphibious creatures that roam the swampy basin of what was formerly known as Uniswamp.” (The similarly named Uniswap is the most popular decentralized exchange on Ethereum).

The CrypToadz were taken from Uniswamp by the “evil king Gremplin,” who exiled the leader of the CrypToadz, “Colonel Floorbin” to “Gooch Island.”

In CrypToadz lore, Gremplin is a humanoid with a pointy nose and a tail. In real life, Gremplin is the pseudonym of an NFT artist who previously worked on the art from another successful project, Nouns.

James Wyper, a Toadz holder and friend of Gremplin, told decentralized finance publication The Defiant that Gremplin is “the visual historian of the space,” and that he fashioned “so many inside-references and Easter eggs in the Toadz designs.”

Then King Gremplin, “declared his divine right to rule over all CrypToadz in the Metaverse”. The metaverse is an evolving term that, broadly, refers to online worlds connected by a persistent online identity. Lots of people think that decentralized technologies, like cryptocurrencies and blockchains, are central to this movement.”

The evil king Gremplin them renamed Uniswamp to Gremland, which he rules over with his “army of Fronkz.” The Toadz call this the “Croakening”, and the project calls upon the community to “help rid the Toadz of the rule of Evil King Gremplin by choosing how many to free during minting.”

It should be noted that this backstory currently has no bearing on how CrypToadz are used. They are simply cryptocurrency tokens that link to a picture of the respective toad. But this is far from a criticism; the project is a social phenomenon, and compelling stories encourage people to get involved (and invest) in the project.

Like lots of other decentralized NFT projects, the creators behind CrypToadz want other people to use the project however they please, integrating it with other projects at their whim. To this effect, the creators include the following disclaimer: “To the extent possible under law, Gremplin has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to CrypToadz by Gremplin.” The project carries a Creative Commons license (CC0), which lets investors build derivatives projects without legal repercussions.

A number of derivative projects have already sprung up, including CrypToadz Socks, Zombie Toadz, and CryptoFlyz. With CrypToadz Socks, each holder of a CrypToadz can mint a pair of socks for their toad; Zombie Toadz functions as a decentralized autonomous organisation (DAO) that pools together funds to buy CrypToadz, and CrypFlyz is a variant on CrypToadz by SuperRare artist Matt London.

If this sounds bizarre, no fear: it is. That’s part of the joy of a project like CrypToadz. Its community can take in whichever direction they like, and the market decides which projects are worth investing in. The community is very interested in the “vibe” of the project. So much so, that typing “!vibe” into the project’s Discord server returns a picture of five bobbing turtles. By early October, the command had been punched in 36,700 times, according to The Defiant.

“The amount of detail that we put in and subtlety in the project, I think is what strongly reflects why people enjoy it,” said motivateme.eth, a pseudonymous community manager in the Cryptoadz Discord on October 4. Like other projects, CrypToadz’s Discord chat has a 24-hour radio of lo-fi hip hop beats.

One of the most prominent investors is Cozomo de Medici, an NFT influencer on Twitter that the rapper, Snoop Dogg, has claimed to be. This claim has been disputedMotherboard concluded that the account is run by a white man in Italy—but Snoop Dogg has not distanced himself from the account. Cozomo de Medici sold a toad for 140 ETH, or around half a million dollars as of this writing. And an NFT fund launched in partnership with a major crypto hedge fund called Three Arrows paid 135 ETH for a single CrypToad on October 3.

That said, as of this writing, CrypToadz is past its peak, which was set in early October 2021. Trading volume peaked on October 6, when 2,173 ETH worth of CrypToadz changed hands in a single day. Two weeks later, sales had dwindled to 124 ETH. NFT markets, like regular art markets, are often highly illiquid, and it only takes a few big sales to pump up the numbers.

Still, the project is still young and its rise up the leaderboard is certainly remarkable. In the month preceding the writing of this article, it was the fifth most popular NFT project, ahead of titans that surpass it in overall sales, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Cub, NBA Top Shot and Sorare. Ownership over the Toadz is somewhat concentrated: there are 3,382 owners of the Toadz and 5,696 buyers overall.

How can you buy a CrypToad?

The process of buying a CryptToad is the same as buying any other non-fungible token. They’re all based on Ethereum (specifically, they conform to the ERC-721 token standard). Although you can trade them anywhere, the most popular venue is the official OpenSea page. OpenSea is the most popular NFT marketplace.

On OpenSea, they’re called ‘CrypToadz by GREMPLIN’, and the page is verified with a blue tick. You can sort through the Toadz according to differences in a variety of features, including the eyes, head, mouth, nose and backround.

Some features are rarer than others. There are 330 “Undead” Toadz, 284 “Ape” Toadz and 296 “Blue Cat” Toadz. Only 486 wear watches and 446 are trapped in shackles. Then a further 404 have “just for the looks” accessories, as diverse as an orange afro to a McDonald’s cap. (In crypto lore, the joke is that everyone works at McDonald’s when the market is low, because they risked all of their net worth on crypto and are good for nothing else).

There are 56 unique, or 1/1, Toadz. These sell for the most; the highest recorded sale for a single toad was for an ethereal blue 1/1 toad named Basglyphtoad. It sold for 150 ETH on October 6.

The toads sell for two different currencies: Ethereum (ETH), the native currency of the blockchain by the same name, and Wrapped Ethereum (WETH). Wrapped Ethereum is Ethereum that is built on the generic ERC-20 token standard.

Sellers can choose whether or not to put their Toadz up for sale. As of this writing, just 1,389 Toadz are up for sale. You can bid on any Toadz you like, but only those 1,389 are looking for a buyer. As of this writing, the floor price for one of the CrypToadz is 5 ETH (about $19,500) and 40.6 ETH has been traded so far.

To buy a toad, you’ll first have to jump through a number of hoops. The first step is to find the toad that you like. As mentioned, you can filter through different features on OpenSea until you find one that suits your style. You can sort by price, currency and whether or not it is up for sale.

Then, you’ll have to connect a Web 3.0 wallet that supports the relevant currency. To do this, create a MetaMask wallet and connect it to OpenSea using the “connect wallet” feature on the top right. This won’t require you to submit any kind of identification, but you will have to store a 24-word seed phrase that serves as a backup to your account in case you forget the private key (the equivalent of a password in crypto).

Then you’ll have to load up your MetaMask with the currency you plan to bid or buy your toad with. To do so, you’ll first have to acquire that cryptocurrency. This is possible by buying cryptocurrencies on any exchange that supports withdrawals. Several popular ones, including the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, are banned in Ontario—it’s worth checking before you try and sign up. Some brokerages, including Wealthsimple, do not let you withdraw cryptocurrencies.

You can buy your cryptocurrencies using fiat money (regular money, like the Canadian dollar), or other cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. Note that the price of Ethereum is volatile, and a buyer may reprice their CrypToad in case of a market crash. Once you have bought your cryptocurrencies, send them to your MetaMask wallet and connect to OpenSea. Withdrawing ETH from an exchange will usually cost you about $20, and you’ll also have to pay network fees, known as “gas” fees, on Ethereum. These can rack up to close to $100 in times of network congestion.

Once your CrypToad is in your account, you can do whatever you want with it. You can use it to claim derivative projects, like CrypToadz Socks, or stake it in other decentralized finance protocols. Some experimental protocols let you use CrypToadz as collateral for a cryptocurrency loan. Others let you stake CrypToadz to earn other ERC-20 tokens. You could also fractionalize your CrypToadz NFT and sell shares in it, or use it as a key to join exclusive groups.

Remember: the only biding principle for your CrypToadz is that they serve as a deed of exclusive ownership over that particular item. This deed may not be valid in the courts, but it’s the way to access the growing network of decentralized finance protocols, or the evolving online social world known as the “metaverse”. Who would have thought that a picture of an ugly pixelated toad could prove so useful in the modern age?

Last Updated December 8, 2021

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