An interesting application of 3D printing is shown by London and Helsinki based MakieLab. The company announces their alpha launch of MAKIES, a user designed 3D printed doll. Along with the launch, MakieLab has announced their seed round investment of $1.4 million, led by early-stage investors Lifeline Ventures and Sunstone Capital. The round was also joined by Anime and gaming industry veterans Matthew Wiggins, Daniel James and Cedric Littardi of superangel-fund Ynnis Ventures.
I find the dolls a little terrifying, but they show cool potential. Currently MAKIES are all white with selectable hairstyles and big, vivid eyes. The process of making the dolls online is very reminiscent to building a Wii character, by allowing you to select features like eye height, nose arch, and whatever else you need to make your doll unique. They're priced at £99 (€120) with outfits running around £20.
"We’ve seen amazing levels of creativity from our customers since letting the first few in during open alpha just a few weeks ago”, says Alice Taylor, founder and CEO of MakieLab. “We’re now hard at work to enable further customization of MAKIES, more creativity, and to expand to include digital and physical gaming.”
Customization clearly adds a large amount of value to toys, with one example out of the US being Build a Bear Workshop. The website and brick-and-mortar storefronts give children a few choices when designing their stuffed animal, providing a much higher sense of ownership.
Ever since 3D printing became available, technologists have predicted new disruptions to materialize, but so far not many companies have been built around providing products manufactured from 3D printing. A couple months ago, The Economist predicted a "third industrial revolution" built around 3D printing, and MakieLab is likely a good example of the medium's potential. I'm sure there's a lot of low-hanging fruit that can be printed, so it will be interesting to watch MakieLab and the industry at large.