Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ridemakerz Builds a Virtual World For Boys Filled With Its Toy Cars

There is a gap on the Web between Webkinz and Club Penguin and the more
adult social networks of MySpace, Facebook and beyond, particularly for
boys. Other than Pirates of the Carribean Online, there is not much out there yet. Andreini wants to parlay the loyalty of his customers into a virtual
world where they can design and play with the exact same cars they can
buy in his stores. Making that connection between the virtual and the
real, even if it’s just a toy, is where he thinks he’ll
have a leg up on the competition.

The Ridemakerz virtual world is being designed by the Electric Sheep
Company, which has a lot of experience designing virtual experiences
for corporate clients in Second Life. But this virtual world will be
entirely browser-based, built on top of its Webflock technology platform.

Andreini opened his first store in June, 2007, and now there are a
dozen across the country. His first store in Myrtle Beach, SC hit $1
million in sales 87 days after it launched. This year, that same store
hit $1 million in sales 53 days after June 1. He’s raised $23
million to date from Norm Pozez, whose father founded Payless Shoes,
and Build-A-Bear Workshop. Build-A-Bear, which operates a retail chain
with a similar concept around building teddy bears, is also a strategic
operational partner.

Andrieni estimates the e-commerce business will bring in about $250,000
this year. But he plans to invest $3 million to $4 million a year in
his new virtual world.

Electric Sheep took CAD files of all the body designs and measured all
the parts with micrometers to render how each car looks. Then they
converted that into Flash using 3D Studio Max and Papervision3D.

Alternatively, a child who buys a car at a store can enter the unique
Ridez Identification Number (RIN) number printed on each one at
checkout and he will get a virtual replica of that exact design. So he
can play with the same car at home and online.

Article Link (TechCrunch)

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