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Azurbala NFT Mint Postponed After Art Goes Viral for Wrong Reasons

The next big non-fungible token (NFT) mint has been delayed by a controversy of its own making: its artwork.

The project is none other than Azurbala, a Bored Ape Yacht Club-inspired profile picture (PFP) collection, whose mint passes have already amassed more than $3.6 million in sales volume on OpenSea. The new venture is tied to a larger storytelling ecosystem created by Tally Labs, which will include the release of a “Bored and Dangerous” novel set in the Bored Ape universe written by Neil Strauss, an actual author.

The project, which has been in the works for over a year, tweeted a video of its art reveal on Friday to mixed reviews for its cast of amateurish, reptilian characters.

“What on earth is this cursed shite,” crypto influencer Cobie wrote. “Gotta be a troll job to garner attention?” another user suggested.

The response to the video was so strong that the project’s team decided to scrap the artwork altogether. Jenkins the Valet, a Bored Ape character that acts as the project’s social media steward, tweeted Monday that the collection’s mint has since been postponed.

Prices for the collection’s mint passes have fallen since the less-than-ideal reveal. The floor price for a “Bored and Dangerous” NFT on OpenSea is now just 0.26 ether (around US $341), down from around 0.52 ETH (around $676) before the video was tweeted.

The situation drew comparisons to the Pixelmon saga of last March – the NFT collection raised $70 million to build out a Pokemon-style video game, but its reveal of blocky, meme-worthy artwork ultimately tanked its momentum.

Big picture

Despite its artwork hiccup, Azurbala appears more equipped to weather the controversy than the Pixelmon team was. The project’s leaders say they hope to turn this week’s setback into a positive by incorporating community feedback into the artwork’s next iteration.

“We failed at doing the very thing that we do best, which is to involve the community in the creative process,” Valet Jones, co-founder of Tally Labs, told CoinDesk. “But it has caused us to build out a bigger and better version of our community software. We’ve had great feedback from our community giving us examples of art they think captures the vibes of the Azurians.”

Jones and Tally Labs’ other co-founder, Safa, say they plan to start gathering community feedback on the new artwork this week, which they will then turn over to a professional artist to remake the PFPs. There is no set date for the mint’s next go-round.

The Azurbala Discord channel has remained lively, with more than 1,500 members currently online at the time of writing. The Discord even has a chatroom teasing snippets of interactions between its future characters.

(Screenshot of Discord Channel for Azurbala)
(Screenshot of Discord Channel for Azurbala)

The Tally Labs duo will take on the artwork issue with no shortage of bankroll. The company’s “Writer’s Room” NFT collection, which gives its holders some creative direction over the project’s storytelling, has also had nearly 7,000 ETH (around $9.2 million) of sales volume separate from Azurbala.

Even the project’s cartoon figurehead, Jenkins, has had its own degree of professional development – the Bored Ape character is signed to CAA, a major talent agency that started signing Web3 clients, fictional and otherwise, earlier this year.