Alright, so a few months back I had dabbled in the world of NFT’s. At the time every crypto currency was in the middle of a boom that seemed to have no end and gas prices on ETH were at least $70-200 per transaction. Folks were paying a pretty penny just to mint artwork in hopes someone could pay for both the piece and the gas. Then, thankfully, the boom ended and crypto dropped to lower levels. Folks who couldn’t wait for the next jump (which could be months or years from now) liquidated their various coins or moved on to other things, keeping the prices low. With lower ETH prices came the lower gas fees, like, much lower – actually usable lower.
I hadn’t kept up with the indie NFT market too much since that last post. My Rarible account still has the same NFT’s on it that I minted back then, they’ll probably never sell but it was a fun experiment. Then, a week ago I saw an old internet art friend of mine who had moved off Rarible onto other platforms that were using various other new systems had been buying up NFT’s that were not only randomized when purchased but had a placeholder image until the big “reveal” date. Now, previously I had only known of tokens that once you minted the thing that was it, you had to burn the thing to change the data. But this new model allows for people to buy an NFT blind, like collectible toys or trading cards. That coupled with the fact that gas was now five solid dollars or less had me setting up an Opensea account and a new Metamask to play around with.
The first one I looked at was Strawberry.WTF which was set to do their big reveal of all the images in a few days. There were others out there like the Bored Apes and such but their floor price was well beyond what I could step into. So, I moved a few ETH from one of my wallets and bought a strawberry to see what the fuss was all about. When I purchased it, since the token images had not been revealed yet, the image was just a static gif. I got a second one and they both had the same looping gif image until the release date. The anticipation of waiting for the reveal was fun so I wandered around some of the other new NFT options out there that were similar.
This type of NFT is based on the popular profile picture artwork seen in the original CryptoPunks that came out in 2017. Back then acquiring ETH was difficult as was moving it around to pay for things. Not every exchange made it easy to buy/sell/trade at that point so I didn’t get a chance to get one when they released. But after things got easier more of these profile pic/token image NFT’s sprang up. They all generally have the same number of randomized images, capping out around 10k. Each project has it’s own discord server, twitter feed, and fans that use the image they purchased as their profile image. It’s just whatcha do. Considering how much these cost, you would want to use it everywhere. I’ve seen some go for 0.05, 0.1, and 0.08 at mint only to double each time it sells. The Strawberries were 0.025 ETH each which hovers around $55 bucks right now – a very easy price to jump in at.
While waiting for the strawberry release day I was scrolling through the recent Cool Cats NFT project that had just sold out that morning. These had a generic blue cat as their placeholder image but half were already revealed at the time. I let my daughter pick one out and she chose a fun bandana/ninja mask/flower cat for which I paid 0.04. Two days later the floor jumped up to 0.06 so I grabbed two more to get one of each ninja mask. (Remember that gas has been hovering under $10 all week.) Had I known at the time that the floor would hit 0.1 today I would have bought more the first time. That’s the fun risky bit of all this, you don’t know which projects will take off and which ones will just stagnate. Scroll through NFT twitter and you’ll read cautionary tales about yeti’s and pandas and such. Some of these sets have very crude artwork, or they have so many variable traits that the art comes out like a five year old was left with Photoshop open.
How the artwork is generated is very cool. Basically they use a script that takes design assets and assigns weighted traits to each image. This allows things like hats, shirts, glasses, etc to be given a rarity which of course increases the value if you get lucky to have your NFT contain one of these things. Basically a massive for loop, for each hat in hats add a hat to token, etc. Now these traits are also contained in the metadata for the NFT which you can see in OpenSea and other places. I just think it’s great that this is even possible now where as before it seemed that once you minted something it was set in stone. The only thing is the art, community, or other perks that go with the NFT maintain their value for the owner despite the market price.
The Strawberries are a safe bet as far as art goes because they are pixelated, and owning one grants you access to the web based gameboy style game that the developers have created (It’s coming out soon). The Cool Cats worked out well because they have a seasoned comic artist doing the art and they managed to create random traits in a way that no cat looks “bad”. While my cats are on the very low end of rarity (which is why I could afford them) I did end up with a decently rare strawberry when they released the images. It will be interesting to see how all these fun new projects go over the next few months and as long as gas stays low I think things like this will have a good future.