A YouTube celebrity on par with Jake Paul or Lele Pons, Lucas made his debut seven months ago, amassing more than 21 million views on his first video and remaining at the top of YouTube’s trending list for days. It’s easy to understand why after watching the quick, 21-second video, too.
Lucas the Spider quickly became a staple of YouTube culture, bridging high-quality animation with an interesting schtick: what if spiders were cute? Turning the arachnid into a plushie was inevitable. Slice is parterning with Teespring for the toy’s exclusive, limited-time launch, and is expected to rack up more than $1.2 million in pre-sales alone. More than 40,000 units have already sold in 10 days, according to the company, with a total of 60,000 units expected to sell.
It’s an exorbitant amount of money for a plushie based on a YouTube character introduced less than a year ago, but it’s also in-line with a very popular trend among YouTube creators.
Merchandise lines are all the rage. Creators like Jake Paul launch massive pop up stores in cities like New York and Los Angeles where kids show up with hundreds of dollars in hand to buy t-shirts. Other creators, like jacksfilms, H3H3 Productions and Marzia, have launched their own fashion lines they link to in their videos. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins sells his own line of headbands (a fashion staple in his stream), and Dr DisRespect has his own line of water bottles.
Merchandise is important. It’s branding, but it’s also a way to generate more income during an incredibly testy period on YouTube. Demonetization affects just about everyone and, creators who don’t want to rely on Google AdSense alone for income have to start thinking outside the box. Many creators team up with companies like Fanjoy or Teespring as a way to sell exclusive shirts, general apparel and other items.
The irony, of course, is that merchandise isn’t new. Musicians, TV networks and studios like Disney generate massive amounts of income through merchandise. The difference now, however, is how people view merch. Chris Vaccarino, Fanjoy’s founder, told The Daily Beast that YouTube creators and general influencers celebrate merchandise, and embrace the sales portion of their career.
“When it comes to selling something, with bands and traditional musicians, it’s not their priority,” Vaccarino said. “They’re like, ‘How do I make good music?’ And just assume the money will follow. They will be apologetic about selling merch. YouTubers are like, ‘How can I sell as much as possible to these fans who want to be sold to?’”
Though Top creators like Jake and Logan Paul can generate more than $1 million from merchandising, Joshua Slice isn’t looking to solely profit off Lucas the Spider. The estimated $1.2 million profit will go toward a college fund for his nephew, who voices the spider.
“To bring Lucas to life by way of a soft lovable plushie that contains the voice of Lucas has been an exciting part of a very unexpected journey,” Slice said in a press release. “We’re very thankful that so many people could come together over the unexpected love for a spider. The fact that Lucas can also provide a future for my nephew, the original Lucas, as well as charities we support is really rewarding.”
That Lucas the Spider is getting his own plushie is perhaps the least surprising thing about his catapult success (more than two million subscribers and over 100 million views in less than a year). After all, Lucas the Spider is one of the most popular YouTube creators, and this is what top creators do. If he gets into a diss track competition with another creator, well, then we’ll know he’s really made it to the top.
Lucas the Spider’s plushie can be pre-ordered now at Teespring.