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.
The Meebits are a collection 20,000 pixelated characters based on the Ethereum blockchain. Like other crypto art collections, they’re NFTs, or non-fungible tokens—one-of-a-kind cryptocurrency tokens that represent a deed of ownership to digital assets.
They were created by Larva Labs, the creator of the (far more successful) CryptoPunks series, a collection of 10,000 2D pixelated characters that have sold for several million dollars each.
That’s not to say The Meebits are a failure. While CryptoPunks have amassed $1.3 billion in sales as of September 22, 2021, according to CryptoSlam, making them the second-most popular NFT project after monster battler Axie Infinity, Meebits are the eighth-most popular project, with $213 million in sales. They even auctioned at the prestigious British auction house, Sotheby’s.Buy and Sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and over a dozen other cryptocurrencies with Wealthsimple. Sign up and Trade here.
The main difference, aside from the doubling of the character count, is that The Meebits are three-dimensional, full-bodied blocky voxel characters. By comparison, CryptoPunks are mugshots of 2D characters. Another difference is that The Meebits are far more varied, with more complicated and varied clothes, masks, facial features, and poses.
And when you buy a Meebit, you get access to an asset pack that includes the entire 3D model and high-resolution renders of your character. You can, according to Larva Labs’ site, “Use it to render and animate your Meebit, or use [it] as your avatar in the metaverse.”
The Meebits, NFTs, and the metaverse
The metaverse is a developing term. It means different things to different people, but generally refers to a set of online worlds that you can interact with through decentralized, or Web 3.0, technologies, such as blockchains. The general ambition for the metaverse is that, say, a Meebit could travel with you through different video games or online spaces. Imagine if you could import this Meebit into Minecraft and Fortnite, or crypto games like Decentraland and The Sandbox. It’s also possible to 3D-print a Meebit by uploading the file to MagicaVoxel as an .OBJ file and submitting it to a 3D printer.
All of this is made possible through non-fungible technology. Whereas coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum are fungible, meaning that each Bitcoin or ETH coin is functionally indistinct from another, NFTs like The Meebits are each unique. Uniqueness and scarcity make them useful for identifying ownership over a particular asset.
The Meebits are all ERC-721 tokens that are housed on the immensely popular Ethereum blockchain. That has helped spawn a whole virtual world of crypto-collectibles, each of which use NFT technology to prove that someone owns, say, a Meebit or a CryptoPunk.
Even though it’s possible for anyone to view a picture and save it to their computers, and although owning an NFT often confers no legal rights over the image, some people have grown attached to the image that the NFT represents.
On Twitter, @punk 6529, a trader with 50,800 followers, has attached their entire virtual identity to owning one of Larva Labs’ NFTs. And people listen when they tweet! In part, that’s because #6529 has developed their own unique voice that, obviously, transcends the CryptoPunk to which they have attached themselves. But it’s also because the NFT is a marker of legitimacy: proof that they’re wealthy—or smart enough to get in early enough to buy their CryptoPunk at an affordable price.
The future of The Meebits is also not entirely in the hands of Larva Labs, who can’t mint any more and no longer entirely steer the project. MeebitsDAO, a development fund for The Meebits universe, is building up a community about the Meebits entirely independently of Larva Labs (although its Twitter bio claims that the project is “aligned” with the company).
DAO stands for decentralized autonomous organisation. They are ways for people from across the world to use cryptocurrencies to vote on the future of a project, including how funds from a treasury pot are disbursed. In a community update on August 10, 2021, MeebitsDAO said that it had bought a decentralized plot of land in The Sandbox and is building tools and experiences for Meebit owners.
Meebits launched in spring 2021**.** The Brooklyn-based software studio behind all the projects (CryptoPunks and The Meebits, Larva Labs), has created Autoglyphs, a generative art project that produces line-based computer art. Created in April 2019, Larva Labs claims that Autoglyphs is the first on-chain generative art project.
Autoglyphs is not as successful as The Meebits or CryptoPunks and lags behind the most popular generative art platform, Artblocks, which is the third-most popular NFT project, with $838 million in sales. Autoglyphs is still successful in its own right. It is the 30th most popular NFT project, having amassed $37 million in sales.
How to buy a Meebit
You can buy a Meebit on Larva Labs’ own marketplace. Larva Labs has a separate marketplace for CryptoPunks; it’s unusual in this respect, as many NFT projects rely on secondary marketplaces, like OpenSea, for trading. You can also buy Meebits on OpenSea.
The marketplace supports Meebit-for-Meebit trading of up to 100 Meebits per transaction, as well as buy, bid, and ask transactions. To buy a Meebit, click here to see a list of all Meebits, and take your pick.
There are seven different “types” of Meebit: human, pig, elephant, robot, skeleton, visitor, and dissected. Human is the most popular: There are 18,881 of them and they sell, as of this writing, for the least amount of Ethereum: 3.84 ETH, or about $11,300. Dissected Meebits—those with transparent skin that reveals their innards—are by far the rarest: There are just five in existence, of which only one is for sale, and the average sale price is 700 ETH, or about $2,068,300. The seller of that single Dissected Meebit wants 5,500 ETH, or $16.2 million.
Then Meebits can have different “attributes.” According to its site, “These are the top-level categories for all hair, clothing, and accessories for a Meebit.” All 20,000 Meebits have pants, hair, and shoes, but only 994 have tattoos. This rarity makes them more expensive, with an average sale price of 6.75 ETH (about $20,000). However, those with hats are the most expensive, averaging at 8.13 ETH (about $24,000), even though they are far from the rarest—there are 4,329 of them.
Remember that each Meebit is owned by a person who may or may not want to sell their NFT to you. As of this writing, toward the end of September 2021, about 2,427 Meebits are up for sale. On Larva Labs’ marketplace, they all sell for ETH, or Ethereum, the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain by the same name, and the blockchain on which The Meebits’ ERC-721 tokens run. However, other marketplaces, like OpenSea, may support other currencies, and direct trades could include the bartering of anything. You can also trade directly for Meebits on the Larva Labs marketplace.
To buy a Meebit, you’ll have to connect your Web 3.0 wallet by hitting “Allow Wallet Access” in the top right-hand side of Larva Labs’ marketplace, or on another marketplace like OpenSea. MetaMask is a popular choice. Then, load your Web 3.0 wallet up with ETH, or the correct amount of whichever currency your desired Meebits sells for—you can buy Ethereum from a cryptocurrency exchange like Binance, Gemini, or Coinbase for other cryptocurrencies or for regular money.
You’ll have to abide by the terms of the sale set by the seller. For instance, we can buy Meebit #18079, a human with no mouth wearing a backward baseball cap, red trousers, and an asteroid gaming t-shirt, outright for 4.36 ETH, which is about $12,847. This is the price set by the seller.
Or we could make our own offer. We can set the currency: This seller wants WETH, a wrapped version of Ethereum, or US dollar stablecoins DAI and USDC. Then we can set the expiration date for the offer. We might have to pay a fee for this offer. Larva Labs won’t take a cut of the sale, but OpenSea will take a 2.5% cut.
In the four or so months since its launch, The Meebits has fallen by the wayside. Sales peaked at $16 million on the day that The Meebits launched, but then fell to about $100,000 a day. Things picked up briefly at the start of August, when sales rose to $8.8 million on August 6, before falling, then rising again to their current peak (as of late September) of $22 million on August 30. Sales have since collapsed. Does this suggest that interest in The Meebits increases very occasionally? Maybe. More conclusively, it shows how the market for Meebits, like a lot of expensive NFTs, is relatively illiquid.
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