Earlier this summer, Formlabs announced that it was teaming up with global play and entertainment company Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) to launch a new series of action figures featuring the faces of their owners, made possible with 3D printing. The time has finally come, and this week, the two companies announced the commercial availability of the 3D printed Hasbro Selfie Series starting this Friday, September 30th. This is exciting news, not only because nerds like me can get a 3D printed Ghostbuster featuring their own face, but also because of the positive implications for mass customization.
Hasbro Realizes its 3D Printing Dreams
We’ve seen 3D printed action figures before, and in fact, this isn’t even Hasbro’s first attempt at personalized 3D printed toys, 3D printed action figures, and 3D printed figures of characters from other brands to which it has the rights. The toy and game giant’s portfolio includes roughly 1,500 brands, including such iconic names as Power Rangers, Monopoly, Magic: The Gathering, Nerf, My Little Pony, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, and more, so it definitely had the content. But, as Chief Business Officer for Formlabs Luke Winston told me at IMTS 2022, there were some important things Hasbro was lacking until now.
“They’ve been thinking about this kind of thing for a while, but before we came around, it didn’t make sense,” he explained to me. “One, you have to get the cost down, and two, you actually have to get the resins.”
Winston explained that Hasbro and the Formlabs materials science team worked together for quite a while to customize the resins, the foundation of which is “based off one of our Tough Resins” and works with the Form 3. Then the team had to figure out the proper print settings to customize the colors of the 3D printable action figures.
This is the first product introduction of Hasbro’s new personalization platform and, according to a press release, “represents the realization of a long-term goal for Hasbro.” Launching at Hasbro PulseCon 2022 and exclusively on the Hasbro Pulse mobile app tomorrow, fans can create a customized, collector-quality, 6″ action figure that features their face on the body of different popular comic, TV, and movie heroes, including Power Rangers, Marvel, Ghostbusters, G.I. JOE, and Star Wars.
“We are super excited to dive into the world of personalization and customization with Hasbro Selfie Series,” said Brian Chapman, Hasbro President of Design, Development and Innovation. “We have done extensive research to truly understand the fan’s ask for a personalized product, and the team has done a fantastic job at making that dream a reality. The innovation on this proprietary technology is truly remarkable, and we cannot wait to give fans the opportunity to add themselves to their collections.”
Hasbro is using Formlabs’ proprietary software and fast, precise, on-demand resin 3D printing to create what’s been coined the “ultimate consumer experience” at scale. I mean, who wouldn’t want a mini Iron Man or Snake Eyes that looks just like them?
“Hasbro Selfie Series is giving us a new way to engage with the fans. We are just scratching the surface when it comes to customization, and we’re excited to see where this new, innovative platform takes us,” said Kwamina Crankson, General Manager & Senior Vice President, Hasbro Direct.
How the Selfie Series Works
So how does it work? Simple: just scan your face from different angles with a mobile smart device, and then upload the photos to the Hasbro Pulse app, available on iOS and Android devices; however, if you’re in the U.S., you have to be 16 or older to partake in this one-of-a-kind fan experience.
“Then you can customize what hair you have, choose skin tone, there’s a bunch of different resins,” Winston explained. “Then you upload it and order which doll you actually want to choose. Then we print a customized head for you.”
You can also add additional personal details, like glasses or a beard, to your action figure lookalike.
Hasbro has its own Formlabs print factory, which receives the configuration for the head from user orders, and automatically adds it to the queue. Once printed, the customized heads are added to a standard, mass produced, injection molded action figure body, and then shipped right to your door. By using hybrid manufacturing, Hasbro can keep costs down, but deliver what customers want most, which is their own face on a hero’s body.
Winston said turnaround on the action figures will “hopefully” be within weeks, but this will obviously depend on how many people order them. This brings me to the price: fans can purchase these customized, 3D printed action figure lookalikes for $79.99. That’s right—these cost less than $100 each, which, while perhaps a tad costly for something that is, for all intents and purposes, a toy, is actually pretty good considering it’s a toy with your face on an action figure from a legitimate, popular, copyrighted franchise.
I know what I want for Christmas this year.
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