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Akutars: The First NFT Collection From Micah Johnson’s Akuverse

The Akutars NFT collection includes 15,000 unique 3D avatars inspired by former MLB player Johnson’s digital astronaut character, Aku.

Former MLB player and rising digital artist Micah Johnson is launching his inaugural NFT collection from the Akuverse.

The first collection of Akutars includes 15,000 unique 3D avatars launching on the Ethereum blockchain. Johnson worked closely with Aku advisors and founding creative council members Pusha-T and Upscale Vandal to select a team of design collaborators for the collection.

Image courtesy of Aku.

“Aku is the first and only one making art and building a community at the highest level of fashion and culture,” Pusha-T said in an official release. “The first Akutar lineup is a family affair of Black creatives coming together to take the Akuverse to the next level.”

That team of fashion and streetwear designers includes Billionaire Boys Club, ICECREAM, Paper Planes, Puma, Upscale Vandal, and WHO DECIDES WAR. Each collaborator handcrafted 1-of-1 NFTs within the collection, while also contributing unique design elements that have been incorporated into all of the Akutars.

The collection will launch to the public on April 22.

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“It’s really beautiful to see the level of detail from top to bottom going into this for our community,” Johnson told Boardroom in an exclusive interview. “Sometimes you see a lot of projects rushed out there, [and] you see people trying to get the most money [as] quick as possible and not putting emphasis on the art. In this case, we went above and beyond any requirement or expectation to deliver for our community, and that’s what’s really important.”

To kickstart the minting process, Aku airdropped 9,241 Akutar mint passes to Aku community members who own one or more Aku Chapters or other Aku-related NFTs.

Johnson told Boardroom that each pass is attached to one free Akutar, and holders didn’t even have to claim them; they were automatically added to their portfolio on April 7. The community members who owned multiple Chapters and were lucky enough to get their hands on an airdrop have also been rewarded rare traits for their Akutars.

Bringing it all together

The world met Aku on Feb. 21, 2021, via an animated video, and since then, Johnson has taken the Akuverse to new heights through storytelling. The first Aku Chapter drop sold 1,400 editions in minutes and attracted roughly $2 million in sales.

Johnson said it took a team of 40 creatives to bring Aku’s inaugural Akutars NFT collection to life. When it came to selecting collaborators, Johnson said he was excited to share the creative process with recognized designers familiar with the Aku brand and interested in expanding the platform.

“It was just organic and on some family-type relationships that brought this together,” Johnson said about how the six collaborators joined the project. “The creative process reflected that.”

Image courtesy of Aku.

The hardest part about bringing the first Akutars collection to life was scaling the teams out, Johnson shared, especially since every single Akutar asset is 3D-built in Unreal Engine and created with the Akuverse in mind. The former MLB star turned digital artist wants to make sure this new project stays connected to the expanding Akuverse. Jonhson said the most straightforward aspect of the project was working alongside his team.

“Once we got people in the door, everybody was really excited,” he said. “Getting those ideas together and seeing everyone work together was honestly the easiest part. We just have really dope people.”

The collection is set at 15,000 NFTs because Johnson wants to expand the Aku audience base. Historically, we’ve seen NFT collections cap at 10,000, but the best part of this industry is setting your own rules, and Johnson continues to push that needle on that front.

Getting your hand on an Akutar

The public sale will run on Aku’s website as a dutch auction, Johnson told Boardroom.

A dutch auction is a bidding technique where customers make bids of increasing value until nobody wants to bid anymore. It’s a more competitive alternative to traditional auctions and a way to determine the highest price Akutars can go for. This process will help set prices for Akutars, which means the collections won’t get a price tag until the bidding process concludes.

Here’s a breakdown of how the airdrop happened:

  • All Aku NFT holders received one base Akutar
  • If a holder owns four unique Aku Chapters, they were rewarded one base Akutar and one Akutar with an OG trait
  • If a holder owns ten unique Aku Chapters, they were rewarded two base Akutars, two Akutars with OG traits, and one Akutar with the Mega OG trait

Holders with multiple unique sets in each category were eligible for multiple rewards. For example, someone who holds eight unique Chapters received two Akutars and two Akutars with OG traits. Akutars with the OG traits and Mega OG traits are only available to Aku community members that fall in the above categories. Following the airdrop and 1% being allotted to Aku partners, there are 5,759 Akutars left to claim on April 22.

Akutar holders will gain access to exclusive products, collaborations, and experiences. Each Akutar also grants holders access to the growing Akuverse and everything it has to offer.

Aku’s Success

Crypto research firm Delphi Digital reported that the total trading volume for Aku Chapter NFTs reached 225 ETH on OpenSea last month, which is the project’s highest month on record. The firm highlighted Aku’s success in a new report called “Aku, The Moon God & The New Age of Web3 Media.”

 There are 15,435 total Aku Chapter NFTs, and if a holder has reached Moon God status, that means they own an edition from all ten Chapters. Delphi crunched the numbers and determined that the current cost to achieve Moon God status is approximately $75,000. Aku Chapter holders clearly see the value in the project because only roughly 2% of total editions are up for sale on secondary markets.

So, how many Moon Gods can there be? The answer is only 570, and that’s because that is the number of editions in Chapter III.

Delphi reported that most Chapters are trading at least two times higher than their original mint price.

What’s Next for Johnson?

The Akutars NFT collection comes after Visa announced that Johnson would be the first person to mentor participants of its Visa Creator Program, a one-year opportunity for creators looking to build their small businesses with a boost from non-fungible tokens.

Aku was also named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Media Companies of 2022.

Johnson’s main goal with the launch of this collection is to expand the Akuverse community. He also wants to introduce more brands to the Akuverse ecosystem through partnerships so more business leaders can experience and leverage Aku’s value and strong, authentic network. Two months after Johnson launched Aku last year, production powerhouse Anonymous Content optioned Aku for TV and film projects. Johnson shared that we’ll be seeing Aku on the big screen soon.

“What’s next is already in the works,” Johnson said. “We’re in film development right now. We’ll have a smaller mini-series coming out later this year and obviously IRL events. The options for us are pretty much limitless at this point.”

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.