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creator-logoGames – of both the video and tabletop nature – are becoming more and more customizable thanks to 3D printing and virtual reality. The lines between video and tabletop gaming are blurring quite a bit, too, as gamers can capture and 3D print screen images of their favorite video game characters, or scan and digitize physical objects for the virtual world. Both kids and adults are loving the opportunities to design, animate and print their own characters, game pieces and scenery – and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Skylanders is a prime example of a game that overlaps the virtual and physical worlds, and its popularity shows how much people love having the ability to interact in both of those areas at once. Players enter into the world of Skylands by placing character figurines on a device called the “Portal of Power,” which reads their NFC tags and transforms them into digital characters on the screen. It’s been an immensely popular game – one of the top 20 best-selling video game franchises of all time, in fact.

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[Image: Activision]

It’s also a game that just screams “CUSTOMIZED 3D PRINTED PIECES!!” So it’s no surprise that Toys For Bob, the game studio that introduced Skylanders in 2011, is now giving fans the opportunity to create their own 3D printed characters that can be imported into the new Skylanders Imaginators video game along with the company’s prefabricated figurines. The Skylanders Creator App, soon to be released for both iOS and Android, lets users design their own personalized characters that can then be ordered as 3D printed figures from Shapeways, as well as put on T-shirts and Imaginator Cards, the latter of which will also allow for transferring of the character into the game itself.

“They’re fully playable, like any other Skylanders. Everything you do with your character will be represented here,” Toys For Bob co-founder Paul Reiche III told VentureBeat. “We’ve worked with Shapeways to make sure they’re ready to go and playable as toys to life. This is this first time ever—you can go from the digital to the physical and have a fully playable character.”

A 3D printed figurine of your personalized character costs $49.99, which is about five times as much as a regular Skylander figurine, but there’s plenty you can do with your character even if you (or your parents) aren’t willing to shell out that much. An Imaginator card, which also allows you to upload your character into the game, costs $14.99, and you can, of course, share your character via Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms for free.

Additional opportunities for customization will continue to present themselves, as well. The Skylanders Creator App will regularly offer new parts that users can add on to their characters, and users will also have the option to change their characters’ appearances, voices and even catchphrases if they want to.

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[Image: Activision]

The 3D printed figurines are limited in quantity, though it’s not clear at this time just how limited they will be. The full-color figurines will come encased in a plastic display dome, and aren’t quite as durable as standard prefabricated characters – they’re more collector items, to be uploaded into the game and then set carefully on a shelf. The Imaginators game itself will come with a price tag of $75 for a starter pack, while T-shirts with your character will run you about $25.

Skylanders Imaginators will be officially released October 13-16, depending where you are in the world. Activision, which owns Toys For Bob, will launch a competition for the best 3D character design on October 24. Discuss further over in the Toys for Bob 3D Printing forum at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Activision / Sources: VentureBeat; Forbes]
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