What are the U.B. Funkeys™ and How Do They Work…
Radica’s U.B. Funkeys™ is the first interactive toy that integrates collecting with
connecting. This innovative new product marries vinyl toy collecting with interactive
computer gaming, delivering an all-new virtual environment filled with fun and games.
To play U.B. Funkeys™ users first purchase a starter kit. The starter kit comes
with a U.B. Funkeys™ “hub,” two Funkeys character figures and PC software. Each
collectible Funkeys character plugs directly into the U.B. Funkeys™ “hub,” which
is attached through a USB cable to the player’s computer. When a Funkeys character
is placed into the hub, the player’s onscreen avatar changes its appearance to match
that of the specific Funkey connected to the “hub.” In addition, each Funkeys character
unlocks new games and zones in the U.B. Funkeys™ world. The more Funkeys kids collect,
the more zones they can unlock and games they can play.
There are 42 different Funkeys in all, some more common than others. Each Funkeys
figure allows kids to play a specific game within the world and buy special items
associated with that figure. By playing games in the U.B. Funkeys™ world, players
earn coins that they can use to purchase items for their “crib.” Players can then
customize their crib – from picking out furniture and painting walls, to adding
carpet, plants and other home decor – then save and upload it to share with friends.
Arkadium worked closely with Radica to design, create and launch U.B. Funkeys™.
In roughly 10 months the U.B. Funkeys™ virtual world was created. It includes:
- 4 zones - Funkeys Town, Laputa Station, Kelpy Basin and Magma Gorge
- 16 customized games
- 30 stores
- A “crib” that players can customize with the items they buy in the virtual stores
- More than 1000 items that can be purchased and used to decorate a player’s “crib”
The following case study briefly outlines the 10 months of work that Radica and
Arkadium dedicated to the development and launch of this amazing game.
The Challenges of Designing a New Game and New World From Scratch…
Radica and Arkadium were faced with several challenges at the offset of this project.
Not only did the two teams, have to build an entire virtual world from the ground
up, they also had to create a design aesthetic that would appeal to both boys and
girls within a wide age range.
The competition also created some challenges. The team knew that the ‘U.B. Funkeys™’
world needed to be fun and robust enough to compete with online games like Club
Penguin and even the console games that are popular with this age group. Even though
there was an offline collectible involved, the game needed to be different and better
than what is currently available online.
“Radica had a very clear vision for U.B. Funkeys™. The buildings, trees, water --
every detail -- needed to make the player feel like they were in a world where the
Funkeys would live. The end result is really special and very different than any
game currently on the market,” said Jessica Rovello, Chairman of Arkadium.
Time of play posed a challenge as well. The end result needed to encourage kids
to collect more U.B. Funkeys™ while at the same time making the experience robust
enough so that they could have hours and hours of play even with a limited number
of toys. Future additions and localization were additional considerations in game
Implementing Strategic Solutions
Arkadium worked closely with Radica throughout the entire design process to ensure
that all challenges were fleshed out and solutions clearly identified and implemented.
At the beginning of the project a master schedule was created and weekly meetings
were held to make sure all teams were on track and on target for launch. Arkadium
implemented a project management collaboration tool in order to keep the thousands
of art assets (each of which needed to be approved and then integrated) and programming
Since the entire project needed to be completed in less than one year, Arkadium
designed a process that employed a group of developers and artists who worked independently
for the first four months.
“At the offset of the project Radica provided us with a specific design direction
– including architectural styles and reference images -- to work from. The individual
Funkeys, which were created by Radica, served as the starting point from which everything
would be constructed. We wanted everything to refer back to their design, so it
would seem like a world that they built and inhabited.” said Simon Kono, Lead Designer,
In a parallel path, the programmers were creating the tools that were needed to
integrate the final designs. In addition, editing programs were developed to handle
the creation of new zones, game rooms and items for user “cribs.”
Combining vinyl toy collecting with gaming was an entirely new concept, and the
ability to access different parts of the world dependent on the toy was ingenious
from a marketing perspective. The more you collect, the more parts of the word you
get to open.
In order to encourage collection of the toys Radica created a coin system, which
awards different coin values depending on the character being used. Purchasable
items also depend on the character and of course certain games are only available
if you have the correct Funkey attached to the computer. Independent of the games,
Arkadium worked with Radica to ensure that the entire world was packed with fun
things to do even for those with a small number of the collectibles.
The game is available at major retailers nationwide. The U.B. Funkeys™ Starter Kit
includes the U.B. Funkeys™ hub, two Funkeys figures and PC software for $19.99.
Individual U.B. Funkeys™ figures are available for $4.99 each.
“Our team at Radica has worked with a slew of developers in the past, and Arkadium
is one of the best we have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. The team’s expertise,
professionalism, attention to detail, and most of all their constant positive attitude
have made this by far the most enjoyable project that I have worked on in my toy
career. A large portion of how this project has turned out is due to the Arkadium
team, and particularly the vision that they have helped craft.” - - Ethan Wood,
lead designer for U.B. Funkeys(TM)