In 2015, 3D artist Aiman Akhtar and his wife Hwa Kinoshita Kim were driving back from a camping trip to Yosemite National Park when they stopped at an In-N-Out Burger and were given some dinosaur stickers. The couple happened to have a mushroom identification guide out as well, and the sight of the mushrooms next to the dinosaurs led to a flash of inspiration. Aiman pulled out his sketchbook and began drawing a dinosaur-mushroom hybrid creature – what would become the Fungisaur.
Back at home, Aiman, who has worked as a 3D Character Artist for companies including DC and Alliance Studio (creator of Overwatch) and created eye-catching costume designs, sculpted the creatures in ZBrush and 3D printed the prototypes on a Form 2. Hwa designed the Fungisaurs brand, and the couple took the idea to DesignerCon 2016, with Aiman 3D printing several toys that were then painted by professional painter Elvin Torres.
The idea the team pitched for Fungisaurs was that you could paint your own and hide them like Easter eggs for a scavenger hunt. People loved the idea, and Aiman and Hwa decided that they would mass market the toys, which led to a Kickstarter campaign that recently wrapped up with a successful funding. At this time, eight Fungisaurs, which are being sold as a mystery box, have been designed and manufactured, with the manufacturing now being handled by a factory partner.
The Fungisaurs themselves are pretty adorable, but it’s not just the toys themselves that have made this idea such a success. Aiman and Hwa have built an entire world around the creatures, including an origin story that you can watch below:
The story describes how the Fungisaurs escaped from the lab where they were created and are now being found all over the world. They even have their own Instagram account documenting their travels. The next step, once the Kickstarter rewards have been fulfilled, is an augmented reality game that will be part of an app slated for release next summer. They also hope to pitch an animated series.
“In the coming weeks we’ll receive the funds from Kickstarter and begin the process of creating molds for toy mass-production, however it will likely take until spring 2018 to complete our factory order including all of the hand-painting and packaging,” Aiman explained to 3DPrint.com.
“Then we’ll work out shipping and distribution logistics and get the toys to Long Beach port and then to all of our backers, and hopefully in several stores. We’ll be posting regular project updates on Kickstarter and www.fungisaurs.com until all rewards have been fulfilled.”
The Fungisaurs creators developed their creatures in the hopes of getting kids to care about science and nature. Science lessons are embedded into the Fungisaurs story: the reason that they’re now all over the world, for example, is because mushroom spores travel on the wind. Add to that the fact that kids are encouraged to use the toys for scavenger hunts, with or without the upcoming AR app, and Fungisaurs bring together cute toys with STEM education and incentive for kids to get outside and run around. It’s unsurprising that the idea took off so well on Kickstarter.
“Team Fungisaurs is looking forward to even more new experiences as we build this brand. We’re in the process of publishing our Fungisaurs augmented reality demo on the Apple Store and are now going to start looking for partners for full mobile game development as well as starting to pitch our animated series to studios and producers in Hollywood, CA. We look forward to the next chapter of our story,” Aiman told us.
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