You may remember a post I had put up a few weeks ago on TCT Magazine’s Top 20 Influential People list but, then again, you may not—in which case, here it is. You may also recall me mentioning how Alice Taylor, co-founder of MakieLab, made it to TCT’s illustrious list. And, if you’re particularly perspicacious, you may even remember the word “creepy” had been bandied about to describe the 3D printed, customizable MAKIE dolls that MakieLab sells. But, then again, you may not…
If you can get past the creepiness (it’s all in the eyes, I tell you, it’s always in the eyes), there really is an interesting 3D printing story here, and it’s not for no reason that TCT ranked Taylor among those most likely to move and shake the industry.
Taylor—formerly the commissioning editor of education at Britain’s public service broadcaster Channel 4 and, now, CEO of MakieLab—together with CTO Luke Petre, COO Jo Roach and CDO Sulka Haro, had founded the company back in March of this year. Based in London, MakieLab alpha-launched MAKIES.me in May, with plans for an open beta slated for October.
The MAKIES themselves are 10 inches tall and fully poseable; customers can customize their MAKIES by choosing their feet, hands, facial features and clothes (to an extent). For now, they only come in one color: porcelain white, which lends to the overall creepiness. According to MakieLab, early testers likened the look and feel to unglazed porcelain (sort of), though the dolls are actually 3D printed in a bioplastic. By removing a panel in the head, the doll’s eyes are moveable, and the body has been purposefully designed to fit a LilyPad Arduino, so that really intrepid MAKIES makers can further customize their dolls with LEDs, RFIDs, voice chips, even Bluetooth. Interestingly enough, these action dolls are intended for ages 14 and up, due largely to child safety standards of 3D printed products. The company is currently testing MAKIES and hopes to be able to market a product that’s safe for children age 3 and up.
At £99 (that’s around $150), these dolls aren’t exactly cheap. In MakieLab’s FAQ, Taylor wrote, “So they’re more expensive than a mass-produced Barbie, or American Girl (just), but less expensive than a collectible Blythe or Pullip.”
As the MAKIES product line broadens, so too will the price range; going forward, price points will range both higher and lower depending on the degree to which the customer wants his or her MAKIE customized. On a somewhat positive note, if creepy is what you’re looking for, you will certainly get what you pay for, and then some.
Whether you’re as creeped out as I am, or you think I’m completely off base, 3D Printer Hub welcomes your comments. And if you’ve got a hot tip from the world of 3D printing, or you’d just like to make a suggestion for future articles, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. Until next time, keep on pushing those dimensions.