Rug pulls and scams unfortunately plague the NFT industry. Some founders create a project, hype it to infinity (often paying influencers) and then walk away after millions in crypto has been transferred to their wallet.
Once a project decides to pull the rug, it not only leaves thousands of people out of their investment, but they also lose the community and friends they've spent months interacting with. Occasionally in these circumstances, projects are taken over by the community to revitalise it. Unfortunately though, the majority of rug founders leave investors to move on and accept the loss, disappearing into anonymity.
Today however, we're sharing the story of a new team that is de-rugging one of the most promising projects of 2021 correctly - The Tokyo Rebels
How it started - The Tokyo Ten
Back in 2021 a project launched called The Tokyo Ten - a very promising idea with an experienced team that went all out for their launch. They offered exclusive meetings with high net worth individuals and token staking, amongst many other benefits. The rug pull truly shook the community, mainly due to the incredible artwork, community and utility promises. The Tokyo Ten sold out in a few hours and was a resounding success, until the artwork was revealed.
After the reveal, the community was outraged by the percentage of citizens (common pieces) in the collection. Additionally, the artwork for commons was not up to the same standard of rarer pieces in the collection. The project owners made a couple of small attempts to rectify the situation, but as the weeks went on, hope was lost and their Discord server plus all socials were deleted. Not only did every investor lose their money, they also lost access to a vibrant community.
If you would like to learn more about the original rug pull, you can head into The Tokyo Rebels' Discord server and read more in the channel: ttt-rug-research
The Tokyo Rebels - A New Team
Enter 2022, a group of original holders of The Tokyo Ten set out to revitalise the project, forming The Tokyo Rebels. They built a team that has the passion and drive to bring the original project back from the ashes, with a new roadmap, utility and community that promises much more than The Tokyo Ten ever could.
Social links and more details on the project are at the bottom of this article.
The Tokyo Rebels Team Interview
Jordan - @realmoon_lander
Can you give us a little bit of background on yourself and your role in The Tokyo Rebels?
My name is Jordan, and was an original holder of The Tokyo Ten Project. Personally I have been around the crypto space since mid 2017 and NFTs for about a year. My background is in Systems Engineering and Product Development. As a member of the core group building The Tokyo Rebels I mainly focus on roadmap development, discord management and general organizational functions.
When and how did you learn about and decide to start creating NFTs?
About a year ago I was curious about NFTs and what exactly the benefits of them could be. At first the “collectors item” function of it all was easy to wrap my head around but digging deeper the other possibilities seemed endless in application. It became pretty obvious to me that this industry was much more than just art and could have expansive and practical application.
I continued to learn more and when the opportunity presented itself with the right group of people I decided it was time to explore creating our own ecosystem within the space.
What does it mean to de-rug a project to you and what conversations led to you starting TTR?
Rugs are common in this space (unfortunately) and likely anyone who has purchased NFTs has been rugged. When The Tokyo Ten project was killed many in the community were angry and especially disappointed that not only did they lose $ and a project with seemingly lots of potential but also a great community.
This is what motivated us to rebuild the project in a light that far exceeded its original intentions. While derugging a project is a whole other type of challenge it also has a deeper meaning to those involved, it becomes a personal matter to make sure it succeeds where the previous project failed. The core group of us started to feel this way within a few weeks of The Tokyo Ten server being deleted and we haven’t looked back since.
What was the main drive behind taking over a project as opposed to starting something new?
The concept of the previous project was sound and had endless ways it could be approached, so why let a good idea go to waste or at least that is how we saw it. There are a million projects out there that look the same and really are just derivatives of larger projects. We saw this concept as unique and wanted to lean into that.
Can you give us an outline of the steps required to relaunch TTR and was there any unexpected challenges you didn’t initially consider?
First and foremost you have to assemble a diverse team of dedicated and talented people, without that there is no chance of revival. Coordinating with people who you know nothing about and trying to create a path forward can be difficult but luckily for us our visions were aligned from the start and we fell into our roles naturally.
The unexpected challenges are too long to list but let’s just say we have been creating things basically out of thin air with no $ or true direction. We have gotten this far due to sheer will and dedication to creating the best project we can.
How has the community of The Tokyo Ten reacted to your desire to bring the project back?
It’s an interesting place to be when trying to rebuild a project that was rugged. The community has done nothing but support and cheer us on. They have shown patience and understanding as we have worked through all the hurdles of doing this.
At the same time naturally the community can be skeptical on if it will work or not. That feeling is understandable, they have been burned once and most have a bad taste in their mouth. That only means that we have to deliver on our plans and continue to build on the excitement of the potential for this project.
What are some of the changes you made to the original roadmap/utility with TTR?
There are quite a few, while the core concept of the project and world building through lore remain the same, all of the art and future utility are completely re-done. The static art has been transformed into complex animated characters with far more variety and components than previously implemented. We have also started to build a full ecosystem marketplace utilising our $YIN token for low friction transactions as well as the ability to form clans within the universe.
There are also initiatives to gamify the experience within the community as members work together to hunt down riddles and clues for unique art pieces as well as treasures.
Is it difficult to find the time to work on TTR with your schedule?
Yes and no. In reality I think we all wish we could do this full time but we certainly make sure we have enough time to accomplish what we have set out to do. We have made some incredible connections since starting as well which has certainly helped us progress.
What have you decided to do differently than other projects?
I think in this space you see a lot of money grabs, a lot of overblown hype with little effort and people scrambling to get out a halfway working product. For us it’s been about doing it right and making sure we can deliver. Our friends over at Genetic Chain live this way as well so it’s been great to have a partner that incubates that way of thinking.
At times it can feel like things are moving slow but ultimately it will give us lasting power in this space and build confidence in the community that we are always going to bring our A game to the market.
What’s something that you’d like to create but the technology isn’t quite ready for yet?
Really there are two things that are getting close but to my knowledge no one has really nailed it yet. The first one is low friction transactions while on the ETH network. I think this is something everyone in the crypto and NFT space can attest to. There are some potential paths we are exploring but for true adoption it needs to be easy.
The second is a true meta verse MMO type experience. It is easy to build a web2 marketplace for our members to verify and interact with but having a meta verse space where you can validate and upload your NFT pfp and walk around, chat, interact with other projects is our dream. (If you are building this please DM me)
What are your goals and dreams for TTR moving forward?
For us it’s to continue to build and expand our world. We want our NFTs to be keys into our universe where the value can spill over into our reality. We want it to be an interactive place that people enjoy spending time in but don’t feel obligated to just be there to be there. The story itself is unique and we want the world to continue to carry forward that feeling.
Chris - @__rnoxx
Can you fill us in on some of the challenges of recreating the art for a project where you didn’t have the original assets.
The main challenge for me personally was in the tediousness and scale of it at the very beginning of it.
No psd files meant that we had to either mask or redraw the whole thing from scratch. We went for the latter. The more we dug into the released NFTs that people owned we started to notice a ridiculous amount of errors and honestly lazy planning/design from the original project. Pieces that didn't match with others, colors that were the same named differently, areas where there was no coloring at all or missing shadows, etc, etc.
It was laughable in some cases and as much as we had a giggle it made us realize how much work we had ahead. Masking was also out of the question due to the fact that most of the assets are animated in one way or another now, and as much as it hurt me there was genuinely no other way to do it all besides redoing the whole thing.
This is not a dig at the previous artist which I'm not 100% sure was into the whole rug (most likely was though as they never stepped forward after what happened), I'm sure the person before us had a tight deadline and had to cut corners to meet it. Once the redrawing of all original assets was finished the other huge challenge was creating new ones that matched the old style.
Most of our community, despite everything that took place, liked the old art style. So we had to make sure that whatever we made fit the original aesthetics. This includes new weapons, clothing, accessories and of course the lore related backgrounds.
What piece of advice would you give digital artists that are starting out with NFTs?
Honestly just think outside the box. As new as the space might be there's very little chance that what you want to do hasn't been done already. When we first started there was maybe one collection with animated assets out, and as cool as that collection was it genuinely didn't feel like it had much depth to it so we decided to push that boundary.
Ingenuity is your friend. If you have an idea that no one else has done, figure out why it hasn't happened and even if you think it's impossible I guarantee you there's a way to do it. We had many many hurdles along the way that I genuinely didn't think we would break, thankfully Alex in his almighty wisdom figured it out one after another after weeks of testing things out.
If you can think of it there's most likely a way. And if you can't figure it out yourself I'm sure there's someone that can help you do just that.
What’s one thing you’ve learnt from creating TTR that you’d advise new artists to be careful of?
First and foremost be careful of who you share ideas with. The amount of thieving and bad intentions from people is unfortunately quite high in the space, especially if you're new. Surround yourself with people you can trust 100%.
Avoid at all cost people that suddenly show up and try to tell you where you should take your project. Same reason as above. A lot of people just want to take advantage, especially if you're new and in one way or another take all your hard work and make profits from it. Source your own crew and don't be naive.
What’s the hardest part of creating NFT artwork?
Being original I'd say but truthfully the hardest part of creating NFT artwork resides in the fact that it's all a numbers game unless you get extremely lucky and the right person sees and promotes your work just because they like it and want to support.
More than an art game, it is a connections game. And the more you have the more chances all your hard work will pay off. So don't be like me and start networking.
We're excited to see the launch of The Tokyo Rebels - the passion and drive from the team is very evident and it's clear that they want all the original holders to have a new community to call home. They're also whitelisting all previous holders of The Tokyo Ten and are really putting in the effort to re-invigorate the community.
We'll be keeping up with the team over the next few months and will post a follow up article after their launch. As with any project we write about, we advise you to do your own research before making the decision to mint.
Check out The Tokyo Rebels: