MakieLab Banks $1.4m To 3D-Print Avatars Into Real, Upgradeable Collectables

Want a toy designed to look like your online avatar? That’s what’s possible with “smart toys” company MakieLab which quietly launched recently with its 3D-printed dolls based on an avatar you create on the site.

But this is not just kids stuff. MakieLab just closed a seed round investment of $1.4 million. The round was led by early-stage investors Lifeline Ventures and Sunstone Capital and is joined by Anime and gaming industry veterans Matthew Wiggins, Daniel James and Cedric Littardi of superangel-fund Ynnis Ventures.

“Makie” dolls are designed to be upgradeable and modded. The eyes can be swapped out easily, the hair comes off, and there’s space in the skull and back for batteries and DIY electronics like a Lilypad Arduino

Meanwhile, the digital dolls on the site wander around a 3D environment and the two will eventually be linked. Physical objects will eventually be tied to digital achievements such as hit “level 20” before you can buy the crown, for instance.

As far as we know no-one else is doing this.

“Makies are great proof of how 3D printing will impact our everyday life in so many subtle ways. My daughter is already saving her pocket money for a Makie and for her and her peers this physical customization will be the norm,” says Nikolaj Nyholm, Partner at Sunstone Capital.

The idea is that each toy is unique to its owner with the on-demand individualised dolls created via web, smartphone or tablet apps, with physical features that can be re-sized and reshaped. Clothes and accessories are going to be big for these things, and as you can guess they are aimed ultimately at the 3-year-old and above market, though they are starting with adults.

Alpha Edition dolls are £99 but they plan to reduce the costs downwards, obviously, and they have to be push the 3D printed products through extensive toy safety testing before they can be labelled for use by babies, toddlers and younger children.

Founder Alice Taylor says the company uses Selective Laser Sintering, to give it its proper Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing) title, using EOS machines, usually a p100 model.

Taylor was previously Commissioning Editor, Education at Channel 4 while co-founder Luke Petre is an MMO development veteran; other co-founder Jo Roach is a cross-media production director while Sulka Haroformer lead designer of Habbo Hotel.