A Research Project on Hybrid Experiences

Makie Dolls

Makie Dolls 4Makies are 3D printed dolls. User customizes the doll’s facial features in MakieLab web service after which the doll is printed and shipped. Through the service, additional clothes and accessories are also available.

The lowering costs of 3D printing sees companies adapting the technology to new sectors, such as customizable toys. MakieLab lets customers closely define the appearance – face, skin color, hair type and color – of the elf-like Makie doll via a related web service. Users are able to create as many virtual Makies as they want and then order the creations they like as 3D printed dolls. The service can then be used to shop from a wide variety of additional doll clothes and accessories. Makies support more extensive customizing, too, as the doll’s head can be fitted with electronics, such as Lilypad Arduino sets, Bluetooth, and RFID tags, for further tinkering.

While the price tag of roughly 80€ is not necessarily too high for children, high-end collectible toys are often embraced by adult aficionados. This kind of business model strongly relies on the community, as the users are encouraged to create custom content and share design tips and photos.


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First moments with my Makie doll, Anna Marie

Summer 2012 I ordered my very first Makie doll from MakieLabs.

MakieLabs is a toy and games company developing “future-smashing toy: customisable, 3D-printed, locally made, and game-enabled”, unique ball-jointed dolls. MakieLabs is based in London.

I ordered my Anna Marie from the first alpha-batch. This is the first physical doll that I have bought on my adult age. The closest experience to Makies has been my history as an active The Sims player in the beginning of 2000. I can see some similarities in the fascination of this hobby over the digital/virtual craft.

Anna Marie is “born digital”. This means that you create an avatar, give her name and personality and then you can, if you wish, order her as 3D-printed fully functional doll.

Interestingly, there is something a bit scary in physical dolls. The first two nights I made sure that Anna Marie was in a comfortable position so that she would not get too mad at me, if at some point the scenario of Chucky would come to life. I know, it is a bit funny. But that happened. I guess there is something engaging in the process of creating something unique and then bringing her into life.

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Anna Marie came in a sleek tube. I liked this style!

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The first thing I saw was her pink hair. Pretty!

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Was not too happy with the first self-made clothing, but it was fun! On the background, you can also see her in her digital life.

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Work in progress. This sweater was not the best summer garment though…

Annakaisa Kultima, Researcher and Project Manager of Hybridex.

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3D printing

3D printing 13D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. It is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Consumer-grade printers are used to create toys, tool parts, and jewelry, among other things.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), is used to make solid objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies, such as traditional machining. The technology can be used anywhere throughout the product life cycle from pre-production (i.e. rapid prototyping) to full scale production (rapid manufacturing) and even for post-production customisation.

Consumer-oriented 3D printers are cheaper, smaller, slower, and are usually lower resolution than their industrial counterparts. 3D printing can be used for creating virtually any kinds of reasonably sized solid objects and even fairly complex machinery that is assembled from 3D printed parts. Consumer printers are still used for rapid prototyping, but also for entertainment purposes, e.g. printing models of virtual characters and play equipment such as dice. Notable companies providing 3D printed characters include FigurePrints and Makie Lab.

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World of Warcraft FigurePrints

WoW Prints 1FigurePrints provides 3D printed models of World of Warcraft characters based on each player’s own avatar. After the user chooses the desired character and equipment, the 3D model is printed, polished, and mailed.

FigurePrints recreate digital WoW characters as fully detailed 3D replicas according to each player’s distinct avatar using rapid prototyping machines that convert three dimensional computer models into physical objects. FigurePrints is first directed to the right character and realm, after which the company takes a snapshot of the character as he/she appears on Blizzard’s Armory website. Players are then given the option of outfitting the character with any of the gear that he/she currently possess and to pose the character in any way they want. The character is then 3D printed as a statue or bust. During the final pass FigurePrints may tweak the angle and position of the weapons and armor to make a stronger and more aesthetically pleasing final statue. They may also need to add additional support elements to make sure that the print is stable given the chosen gear and/or pose. Finally, the model is mailed to the customer.

FigurePrints provides also (limited batches) of 3D replicated pet characters familiar from World of Warcraft.