Jago is an indie studio in L.A., and it will make a free-to-play, card-collecting role-playing game with characters from the original Garbage Pail Kids line of trading cards and stickers that Topps issued in the 1980s. It will also have more contemporary cards, which have been selling at a rate of 1 million a year. The gameplay will be similar to Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, the hit team-fighting mobile game from Electronic Arts.
“Garbage Pail Kids are icons of the ’80s, and a mobile card battler featuring their freaky antics is a natural expansion for the infamous and beloved brand,” said Jago Studios CEO Stuart Drexler in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Topps and look forward to bringing these memorable characters to life in a new way fans can interact with, directly on their mobile devices.”
Garbage Pail Kids has hit its 30th anniversary, and it enjoyed massive playground popularity in the 1980s as children around the world collected and traded hundreds of millions of cards, much to the disgust and dismay of their parents. (I do not recall if I offended my parents with this card habit.) [My dad thought they were funny. My mom did not. –Ed.]
Depicting kids in foul and comical scenarios, such as Fryin’ Brian, sizzling in the electric chair or Tee-Vee Stevie, mesmerized by multiple screens, Garbage Pail Kids created over 600 collectible characters between 1985 and 1988. Fans latched on to the outrageous parodies and passionately worked to complete their collections, with many schools banning the cards outright, claiming they were a distraction to students.
New Garbage Pail Kids packs were issued in 2003 and were met with massive enthusiasm, initiating a new era for the notorious brand. Garbage Pail Kids cards continue to sell today at over 14,000 retail outlets across North America.
Currently in private beta, the game is the debut project from Jago Studios. Drexler, who is also the executive producer, founded Jago Studios in 2017, launching the company with the exclusive license to develop card-collecting and role-playing games across platforms for Garbage Pail Kids. He brings over 20 years of experience creating interactive games, toys, and content for global brands including Moshi Monsters, Habbo, Barbie, Elmo, Harry Potter, and Lego. At Disney Interactive Media Group, Drexler oversaw product development across all of Disney’s virtual worlds, including the ground-breaking Club Penguin massively multiplayer online gaming platform.
“The game from Jago Studios will bring our Garbage Pail Kids to mobile devices around the world in a new way people haven’t had before,” said Ira Friedman, vice president of global licensing at The Topps Company, in a statement. “For fans from the ‘80s or the new generation just learning about the brand, virtually battling with GPK collectible cards offers a new mobile social experience that remains faithful to the irreverent heritage of Garbage Pail Kids.”
The mobile game will be available worldwide on the App Store and Google Play. Jago Studios has six employees and it has raised $675,000. It is seeking a $2 million round of funding.
“Garbage Pail Kids hits several notes for us that make it a perfect fit,” Drexler said. “First, we believe in the power of humor to bring people together. People like to laugh, and it’s something we could certainly use more of these days. GPK was really one of pop culture’s truly viral phenomena, spreading like wildfire across playgrounds around the globe, and without any advertising. Humor is by its very nature inherently sharable.”