The good people at London's Nobrow Press have done an 8" vinyl toy for the outstanding kids' comic Hilda, created by Luke Pearson (reviews: Book 0, Book 1; Book 2). The Hilda toy is grownup-collector-expensive, but it's also a very nice piece -- I saw one in person last night when I brought my daughter and her friend to the Nobrow store on the way to our weekly daddy-daughter pizza dinner.
Writing in The Atlantic, Amy Schiller documents how Mattel has spent the past 15 years transforming the expensive, highly detailed American Girl dolls from a source of radical inspiration that signposted moments in the history of the struggles for justice and equality in the US, into posh upper-middle-class girls who raise money for bake sales. As Lenore Skenazy points out, the original American Girls were children who had wild adventures without adult oversight; the new crop are helicopter-parented and sheltered, and their idea of high adventure is a closely supervised day in the snow.
Saige is white and upper-middle-class, just like McKenna the gymnast and Lanie the amateur gardener and butterfly enthusiast, both previous Girls of the Year. Even in their attempt to encourage spunky and active girlhoods, their approaches to problem solving are highly local—one has a bake sale to help save the arts program in a local school, another scores a victory for the organic food movement when she persuades a neighbor to stop using pesticides.
By contrast, the original dolls confronted some of the most heated issues of their respective times. In the book A Lesson for Samantha, she wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions. The book is a bravura effort at teaching young girls about class privilege, speaking truth to power, and engaging with controversial social policy, all based on empathetic encounters with people whose life experiences differ from her own.
Kaitan modded his 3D printed Makie doll into a spectacular intergalactic jewel-thief, complete with accessories.
She was dyed using a mixture of green and yellow iDye poly. Her face up/ body up (?) was done with Perfect pearls iridescent powders, pastels, fine glitter and acrylic paint. The scaly pattern covers her arms,legs and torso as well as her head. She was going to have bright red hair, but I decided I like her bald! smile
Sorry she's a bit “fur coat and no knickers” at the moment - I haven't gotten around to making her other clothes yet smile
Her shoes are painted Makielab black wedges with additional jewels. And of course she gets her own fabulous personalised gun
Gabriele Galimberti photographed children around the world posed with their favorite toys and possessions. At top, Pavel (Kiev, Ucraina). Above, Maudy (Kalulushi, Zambia) and Noel (Dallas, Texas). "Toy Stories"
Makies are manufactured using a 3D printing technology called selective laser sintering (SLS), in which a laser fuses together particles of nylon powder to form the individual parts. The process can produce items with very high fidelity and strength, compared with the more common fused deposition modelling process (FDM), often used in desktop 3D printers, where a filament of plastic is extruded to build up a model in layers.
The downside of this process is price, with SLS machines costing an order of magnitude more than their FDM cousins. Nevertheless, SLS technology could be described as just-about-affordable, and Makies are a perfect application for consumer-quality 3D printing. Digitally designed, and each one unique, Makies are a sign today of a much-talked-about future trend in manufacturing: mass-customisation.
“We set out to make consumer-facing goods using 3D printing. The original vision was: virtual goods would produce physical goods; the physical goods you would be able to modify, and that would feed back into the virtual world. That would create a kind of loop between digital and physical. The only way you can do that is with a digital thing that also lives as a physical thing, connected with an identity. The traditional technology for manufacturing toys makes it hard. 3D printing technology makes it possible.”
So 3D printing makes personalised dolls possible. And personalisation is what makes a Makie special.
MakieLab, the 3D-printed toy company my wife Alice founded, has just shipped its first tablet-based doll-builder: the Makies Doll Factory!
We think designing Makies with fingers feels really cool, like proper making. And, we've revamped the pricing for real-life Makies, so you can order only the hair, accessories and clothes you want with your doll - which makes most Makies a bit cheaper too! App users get this first (we re-jigged the shop along with the app, to make this possible), and we'll be rolling it out to www.makie.me later this week.
If you're headed to SXSW, you should really get all your friends in a taxi and ride out to Toy Joy and then eat some of the spectacular barbecue at Ruby's BBQ, kitty-corner from the shop. It's pretty much the perfect outing, and at least as cool (if not cooler) than anything you'll actually see presented on the conference floor.
As I get ready to (finally) return home from a month-long tour, I'm taking stock of the gifts I scored for my daughter Poesy on the road. First up is this Toysmith Blooming Flower an incredibly clever little papercraft toy. It consists of a complex of folded and cut tissue paper, sandwiched between two plastic rods. When you open out these rods, the tissue paper fans out to make a lovely paper flower.
But that's just for starters. If you give the flower a shake, it "blooms," as other paper fans, in contrasting colors, emerge from the insides of the first-order flower. Each shake or sharp tap creates a new structure, each more lovely than the last. It's difficult to explain, but itsmecharlee posted the above YouTube video in which a charming little girl masterfully demonstrates.
This is the second time I've brought these home (I discovered them thanks to a tip from Bettina Neuefeind, who sent me to the amazing Black Ink, near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass). The first one lasted for more than a month, which is pretty good for a mess of fragile, glued-together tissue paper in the hands of a then-four-year-old. They're only $4, and the kid is five now, so this time I'm bringing home two. They're really lovely and cool.
Etsy seller Rockets and Rainbows makes clever jewelry out of Star Wars and My Little Pony toys, including the Snow Speeder ring shown here. But you can't buy that one, because I just bought it as a surprise for my wife. Don't tell her, OK?
Todd Blatt and the fun-loving weirdos at the Baltimore Node hackerspace froze a Tickle-Me-Elmo in carbonite because of (awesome) reasons:
I was at my hackerspace one evening and we got to talking about crazy ideas, like normal. We have a full size Han Solo in Carbonite at the space, and someone mentioned that it'd be funny to encase old toys in a smaller carbonite box. So I did. I used the ShopBot CNC router at the MIT FablLab at CCBC in Catonsville, MD to cut the box, an arduino to copy code to an attiny85 to run the randomization script for the LED lights, and my MakerBot to 3d print the side panels I'd previously designed for a different project. The side panels are posted here on Thingiverse and I just drilled out holes for the lights.
Autodesk's 123D Creature is an iPad app that lets you design a monster and then order a 3D print for home delivery. The app costs $2 and I just bought it. Looking forward to trying it out with Jane tonight!
Create a skeleton
Add joints and create limbs to build up your 3D character in digital clay. Reposition, pose, and scale limbs; and adjust your creature's shape.
Decorate Add surface details using the sculpting tools, then use the airbrush to paint on color or use image paint add realistic details by to rubbing areas of a photo onto your 3D creature.
Export and share Bring your 3D creature into the render room to generate amazing images to share with your friends. Use the in-app printing service to order a 3D print of your creature, or export your 3D model complete with textures.
Time to clear some space on the knick-knack shelf. Mezco has shown a line of AXE COP action figures at the NY Toy Fair:
Based on a webcomic that turned into a print comic that turned into a web based animation that turned into an animated tv show soon to be on Fox, Axe cop features some of the most outlandish characters ever seen. How outlandish? Well, besides the titular axe wielding cop, there is a t-rex with machine gun arms, an avacado unicorn, and soldiers made of poo. Mezco’s Drake indicated that Mezco has a long history of producing poo based characters and with their Mr Hanky of South Park they have cornered the poo toy market. “No other toy company besides Mezco will be offering three separate poo based characters in 2013 “ said Drake. Mezco will be producing both 3.75 inch figures and plush characters for the series.