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A Comprehensive Guide to the Top NFT Avatars

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NFT Avatars. Image source: OpenSea

If you’re looking to get into NFT Avatars, you might be suffering from decision paralysis. 

After all, there are so many projects out there and new ones launching nearly weekly. It’s hard to keep track.

NFT avatars are images of a character, usually from the shoulders up, frequently used as digital profile pictures. The vast majority of NFT avatars are individually unique and algorithmically generated from an array of traits (ie: clothing, accessories, hairstyles, etc.) with various rarities. Many NFT avatar projects have other functions built-in, or at least planned for the future. For example, some NFT avatars give their holders access to special virtual clubhouses, while others may have future implementations in games or multimedia projects. 

Because of the frequency of similar launches and the money being thrown around, these NFT avatar launches feel similar to the ICO boom in early 2018, where buyers aped in hoping to see massive upswings in price. Avatars with rare traits from popular projects tend to explode in secondary market value on OpenSea, with some selling for many times over their initial mint price. Some buyers mint multiple of these NFTs at launch, hoping to quickly flip for a profit, while others hold long-term in the hopes that the project grows in popularity.

The market for NFT avatars is still relatively niche, which is why many of these projects have edition sizes of 10K, but only between 2K and 4K unique owners. Still, demand is growing, as evidenced by active Discord channels, Twitter feeds and, perhaps more tellingly, on-chain data, as it is NFTs projects what’s driving the recent Ethereum gas price increase.

The OGs

CryptoPunks

CryptoPunks is the OG NFT avatar project. It set the precedent for every other project following in its footsteps. CryptoPunks was released by Larva Labs in June 2017 — one of the first NFT projects on the Ethereum blockchain. The 10K uniquely generated 24×24 pixelated avatars were free to claim by anyone with an Ethereum wallet. 

Now, CryptoPunks have achieved legendary status, broaching the mainstream art world and headlining auctions at major art houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. CryptoPunks are essentially the rolexes of NFTs. Even the lowest-priced Punks fetch tens of thousands of dollars. The rarest ones — zombies, apes and aliens — are priced well into the millions of dollars.

Avastars

After the launch of CryptoPunks, the NFT avatar space was quiet for a while. And then in April 2020, Avastars launched with some particularly unique elements. 

Unlike most other NFT avatar projects, users are able to generate Avastars and view them before purchasing. The price to mint a specific Avastar varies based on the rarities of its traits generated. There are 5 generations of “Prime Avastars,” with 5,000 unique Avastars per generation. These have all been minted already, so now only “Replicant Avastars” can be created by combining the traits of existing Avastars. 

The Hashmasks

Hashmasks launched in late January 2021, just before the massive wave of mainstream interest in NFTs after Beeple’s $69M Christie’s auction sale. The project collaborated with more than 70 artists globally to create an incredibly distinct art style. Holding a Hashmask NFT generates 10 Name Change Tokens (NCT) every day, 1,830 of which can be burned to give a Hashmask a unique name. 

Meebits

  • Highest Sale Price (pictured): 1K ETH
  • Floor Price: 1.45 ETH
  • Official Site: https://meebits.larvalabs.com/
  • Discord: Same as Punks
  • Edition Size: 20K
  • Owners: 4.8K
  • Total Volume Traded: 26.4K ETH

Also created by Larva Labs, Meebits are unique 3D voxel characters intended to be used as avatars in the Metaverse. 

Meebits’ initial launch in May 2021 garnered some criticism within the wider NFT community due to the fact that over half of the supply was reserved as free rewards for CryptoPunk and Autoglyph holders. The rest were available for anyone else to mint at the price of 2.5 ETH (roughly $10k at the time of launch) in a Dutch auction format. This led some collectors to accuse Meebits of being a cash grab aimed towards already wealthy crypto OGs.

The New King of the Jungle

Bored Ape Yacht Club

Many were priced out of the OG avatar projects, and as a result, a new project looked to prioritize accessibility. The Bored Ape Yacht Club launched in May 2021 with a flat 0.08 ETH (around $270 at time of launch) mint price per ape. Moreover, the BAYC team fostered a dedicated community around the project with an extremely active Discord and special benefits for holders. Each BAYC NFT grants entry to a special “Bathroom” section on the official BAYC website where users can write digital graffiti on a communal wall. 

Bored Ape Kennel Club

BAYC launched a spin-off project in June 2021 called Bored Ape Kennel Club, wherein every Ape holder could adopt a pet dog NFT for free. All of BAYC’s proceeds from the 2.5% royalty they get for Bored Ape Kennel Club NFT resales on OpenSea are donated to charity.

The BAYC project set the gold standard for subsequent NFT avatar launches, and inspired many similar animal-based avatar projects that grant holders special perks. 

Endless Animals; Endless Ideas

Some NFT avatar projects have innovated upon BAYC’s exclusive entry pass model with tactics like allowing NFT holders to participate in a community DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) or determine future functionality mechanisms. Others are upfront about just being cool status symbols.

Regardless, animal avatar NFTs are especially popular on OpenSea, where the rarest ones see staggering sale prices. 

Bulls on the Block

Bulls allow holders to vote on the usage of funds in a community wallet (similar to a DAO).

Cool Cats NFT

Cool Cats plan to include a future breeding mechanism — similar to CryptoKitties, the first NFT project to really explode into the mainstream public consciousness in 2017 — determined in-part by community members.

Gutter Cat Gang

Gutter Cats give users initiation into a digital gang.

Gutter Rats

  • Highest Sale Price (pictured): 7.9 ETH
  • Floor Price: 0.2 ETH
  • Official Site: Same as Gutter Cats
  • Discord: Same as Gutter Cats
  • Edition Size: 2.9K
  • Owners: 1.3K
  • Total Volume Traded: 563 ETH

Created by the same group as Gutter Cats, Gutter Rats are at war with the aforementioned Gutter Cat gang and during the launch process, could only be minted by Gutter Cat gang members.

SupDucks

SupDucks “grant you legendary status,” according to their developers.

Lonely Alien Space Club

Aliens aren’t exactly animals, but these NFTs grant users access to exclusive “Space Club” sectors of the website and community Discord.

Weird Whales

Weird Whales isn’t garnering quite as big of resales as the other projects mentioned, but it stands out due to the fact it was created by a 12-year-old coder. On July 19, the kid posted a thread on Twitter detailing his journey creating the cute avatar project inspired by CryptoPunks. His story garnered attention and all 3,350 Weird Whales were purchased that same day.

An NFT for Everyone

Of course, there are also plenty of NFT avatar projects that aren’t based on animals. Some of them display more human-looking characters, while others incorporate elements from science fiction and fantasy. Some of them are downright weird, if not also offensive, such as CryptoJunks.wtf, which mocks the whole algorithmically generated avatar concept by making … algorithmically-generated genitalia. 

And these projects are also furthering the idea behind NFTs by launching ambitious secondary use cases for the tokens. Truly, there’s an NFT project for everyone out there. 

World of Women

Created by the artist Yam Karkai, World of Women aims to bring more diversity and inclusivity to NFTs. The project features avatars of women only. And some specific rarity traits grant users access to exclusive clubs. These include a royalties club that splits 50% of OpenSea secondary sale royalties amongst members; an investors club that will split profits from the WOW fund created to support the art of other women in the NFT space; and a curators club that helps decide what art the WOW fund will purchase.

DeadHeads

DeadHeads is an NFT avatar project with the ambition of becoming a larger animation endeavor. The project roadmap includes plans to purchase land plots in metaverse games like Decentraland and Cryptovoxels to turn into graveyards. DeadHead NFT holders will also receive 3D model files of their avatars to use in those games. But even beyond that, DeadHeads ultimate goal is to fund an animated series. 

The Vogu Collective

The Vogu Collective has an especially distinct art style, combining streetwear fashion with robot characters. Vogu just dropped on July 26, 2021 but it’s quickly gaining traction as one of the hottest projects in the NFT space. Future plans for Vogu are still vague, but the project’s team has suggested their intent to create multimedia stories and other art based on the characters.

Animetas

While Animetas haven’t launched yet, the anime-inspired cyberpunk art has generated massive interest within the NFT community. The project has big things planned, including retro-style arcade games and merchandise, both physical and virtual for the metaverse. Animetas also have pet NFT counterparts in the form of Animonkeys, which will feature a fusion mechanic in the future, allowing them to be played in the eventual arcade games.

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