Kickstarter in the Community: Cuteness in Connecticut


Fruit-themed plush toys gain massive crowd support

By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor

Kickstarter campaigns come in all different sizes, with various financial goals and backers’ rewards, but some evolve over the campaign’s duration and become much grander than anyone could expect. That’s what happened to Connecticut-based Lucky Squid Studios’ Fruitimals campaign, where fruit-themed animal plush toys captured fans’ hearts and funded every stretch goal.

“Honestly, we were really only expecting to make the first three plush. Of course we were afraid that we wouldn’t even make one,” lead designer Nancy Frey wrote to the Other Press. “However, everyone’s support, even right up until the last minute, completely surprised us!”

Beginning with a modest goal of $11,000 to cover the cost of manufacturing the plush toys and the Kickstarter backers’ rewards, the campaign was successfully funded with over $52,000 from 745 backers, at least a third of the funding coming in right near the end of the campaign.

“It was a complete surprise! Like we hoped, of course. We had no idea our fans were going to give us such a huge push at the end!” Frey wrote. “Thanks to our fans, we feel like we have a bright future ahead of us!”

Frey, artist/photographer Taylor Schroeder, and vector artist/display designer Nick Lukasewski began Lucky Squid Studios in 2009 and took their early creations to the Otakon anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland. While trying to come up with new designs, the three members created Strawberry Cow (part of a series of cows representing various milk flavours) and Watermelon Cow, which was the result of Lukasewski jokingly drawing green lines on the cow design.

“After Nick came up with Watermelon Cow, we all thought it was too funny and strange not to make into something,” Frey wrote.

Watermelon Cow was then given additional fruit-themed friends—Raspberry Sheep, Blueberry Pig, and Orange Fox—all of which made their debut as clay charms at Otakon 2010.

“Orange Fox is one of the few designs that came from clay first,” Frey wrote, explaining where the Kickstarter Fruitimals plush designs came from. “Originally, he was actually Orange Cat. When we baked the clay Orange Cat, the tail kind of broke. I didn’t know about foil armature or any real clay techniques yet. I thickened up the tail, hoping that would help, and it actually ended up looking more like a wolf or dog than a cat. Most wolves aren’t orange, so voilà! Orange Fox was born!”

The 12-inch plush Fruitimals featured in and funded by the Kickstarter campaign included Orange Fox, Eggplantypus, and Cherry Octopus. As the funding increased over the 36-day funding period, additional plush toys were added to the campaign as stretch goals, including fruit-holding bats Penelope and Mortimer (which would be funded if the campaign reached $41,500) as well as DragonFruit (which would be funded if the campaign reached $50,000). Another plush in the campaign that was funded at $31,000 was Gertrude the Pig, which came from Lucky Squid Studios’ Pudgimals line of six-inch animals.

The Pudgimals are animal characters with wide round bodies, tiny legs, and various hat accessories. Along with Gertrude, there is Adam the Bear, Reginald the Lion, Molly the Cat, Floyd the Elephant, Felix the Fox, Flo the Dragon, Randy the Raccoon, and Terrance the Goat.

“We want all of them to be plush soon! We aren’t sure which ones will be next yet. We are going to run a poll sometime in early to mid-December to decide on our spring/summer preorder release,” Frey wrote. “I know I’m rooting for Felix the Fox, Reginald the Lion, or our newest design Terrance the Goat, which is going to have a voice box with various goat noises.”

After the success of the Fruitimals campaign, the team is already gearing up for their next Kickstarter campaign scheduled for Winter 2015, which will focus on their Mythical Kingdom line featuring Qilin, Jackalope, Fat Dragon, and Carousel Unicorn.

“And in other news, we are working with one of our artist/game developer friends to bring a Penelope and Mortimer video game to life!” Frey wrote. “We want to make something in the same vein as Mario or Mega Man, a side-scrolling platformer, something that is fun, upbeat, and explores their characters a little more.”

For more information about Lucky Squid Studios’ projects, check out the official website at