Makies: custom-made, 3D printed action dolls

My wife Alice quit her job a year ago to found Makies with some friends in London and Helsinki. Makies is a 3D printing startup. The company's mission is to create toys and dolls from "playful" digital environments (games, social systems, stuff like that). Essentially, the idea is that you create digital people, along with their clothes and accessories, and play with them online, and at the press of a button, you can order these things as physical objects that get custom produced by a local supplier and shipped straight to you. The idea is to build a business that inspires makers, hackers and crafters -- for example, the dolls' heads are designed to take an Arduino Lilypad, should you have such a notion.

After a lot of experimentation and design iteration, they've gotten to the point where they can reliably produce and ship 10-inch custom action dolls using suppliers here in London, and they want to alpha test it against the real world, so they're selling 100 of these dolls to see how the whole thing works. There are just a few left now -- Alice didn't want me to blog this until all the people who'd signed up for the mailing list and all the friends and family had had a crack at the inventory. You can also play with the doll creator without buying the actual doll. They've learned a ton in a just a few days, and they're looking for more of your feedback.



  1. Ooh, that’s a really nice idea!!!  Really nice web page, too! I was going to suggest custom skin color… but then I noticed it was on the “todo” list, so never mind. :)

  2. They should totally get with some of the virtual environment companies. There are people who go gaga over their 3D avatars.

    1. I thought they were creepy too when I saw these yesterday, but I really think it’s just the color. If you make them a normal skin color (or, well, any color besides what it is ;) then they’d look fine. The seemingly all-black eyes in the second picture don’t help of course :) 

      You could almost certainly figure out a good type of paint to use, and paint skin colors and other details if you wanted. And @TheMudshark:disqus – someone really interested in these might also be interested in making their own doll clothes :)

      Just out of curiosity, I do wonder what specific influences informed the design – it feels reminiscent of a bunch of different things (including grays).

      1.  I quite like the creepiness of the white skin and black eyes, much more interesting than normal skin colour i.m.o. All black skin would be cool too.

  3. The face editor is fun, the fashion choices leave a lot to be desired. Maybe just some plain t-shirts would be nice. Or even custom printed t-shirts.
    For the future, perhaps different body types would be an option.

    1.  Looks like someone was hired to make dolls for a remake of Puppetmaster or something

  4. Oh my jesus I’m a grown man and I’m playing with their online doll designer.

    These people are onto something.
    The concept is so easy to get across, the interface is brilliant, and it lets people make their own dolls. I hope they do fantastically well, they deserve it.

    1. Short note: if you make a doll, try and save it, and click the Facebook option, then get self-conscious about people seeing what you’re doing in work, and hit the back button, you lose your dolly. :(

  5. At last I can build my own Team America: World Police. If not I’ll just settle for a Kim Jong-il. 

  6. I think it’s a great concept!! Hopefully a bit more control in the future –  I’m not crazy about the facial proportions, but then again I’m a picky and pedantic doll collector to begin with!

  7. It’ll never be truely customizeable as we’d like (no import your own shirt images etc) due to copyright wonks. However this is a great idea.

  8. Fascinating concept, and a gift certificate would make an interesting present.

    But for Ghu’s sake, they need some color. As it stands they’re like something that would crawl out of little holes in the depths of the Uncanny Valley and jab utility knives into your ankle.

  9. These would be great for a number of MMORPG, but will they get into trouble over copyright issues?  I can just see the lawsuits drifting down like confetti if they tried to do them for STO, WOW, or EVE Online.  Could they ‘port specs from a game?

  10. I did it! I made a Makie (named Evangeline) and even though it was not cheap (about $150), I ordered it to be made real, or 3-D, or non-virtual, or whatever adjective we’ll have to come up with now that things that live in computers are now the unmarked case…

    Here she is…

  11. This is very awesome!  When I have my own kids I am gonna definitely do the same.

    Thanks for sharing! :) 

Comments are closed.