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CASE STUDY
U.B. FUNKEYS

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.

Funkey Family

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’s Involvement…
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.

Funkey Virtual World

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 design.

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 tasks organized.

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.

Funkey Zoot Game Room “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, Arkadium.

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.”

Funkey Organ Structure 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)