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Alexey Churchwell

From Miniatures to Minecraft: Printing Collectible Figurines

From video games to comics to movies, geek culture sure has come up with some pretty awesome stuff. Who hasn’t wanted to have a physical copy of Link’s sword from the Legend of Zelda, or hold a real life collectible figurine of your favorite movie monster?

One of the awesome things about 3d printing is that it allows you to make practically anything you want. And, as with any technological advancement, humans are going to use it to make some cool (and geeky) things. So if you’ve been drooling over that guitar/sword from Devil May Cry, why not print it for yourself?

In the spirit of utter geekiness, I’ve found 5 ways you can bring your fandom-inspired dreams to life.

1) Make a D&D Figurine

Image credit Ted Parsec

Image credit Ted Parsec

As any player of Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGS knows, finding the perfect miniature is far more difficult than it seems. Even if the catalogue has a collectibule figurine in your class/race/gender combination, there’s no guarantee that it will be a match. Every D&D character is unique – but every miniature is most definitely not. Luckily, 3D printing is here to save the day.

If you want to print yourself a miniature, your best option is to head over to Shapeways, where you can either design the object for yourself, or find someone else who has already designed the perfect miniature for you. There are a lot of talented artists out there; you could swear that their miniatures jumped straight from the pages of the Monster Manual. If you feel up to the challenge, you can also spend the time to design your own; it will take longer, but the resulting character will look exactly like that half-orc wizard you dreamed up years ago.

2) Make Hours of Digital Work a Reality

Minecraft Image

Image Credit FigurePrints

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably spent hours upon hours customizing your character. You have the best equipment in the game, and you spent a little cash shop money to get the hair color you like – all because your character is your digital face. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take your character home?

FigurePrints lets you print a 3D version of your gaming character. Right now, their options are limited to World of Warcraft or Minecraft; however, in the future, there’s a good chance they will add more games. If you choose the World of Warcraft option, you can get either a figurine or a bust of your character, wearing anything you have in your inventory.

If you play Minecraft, the options get even cooler. FigurePrints actually lets you print an entire section of your Minecraft world. Remember that floating castle you spend 30 hours perfecting? It doesn’t have to stay digital anymore. Just download their world exporter, choose the section you want to print, and away you go.

3) Customize a Robot

Robots from My Robot Nation

Image Credit My Robot Nation

Do your kids want to get in on the 3D printing too? My Robot Nation will let them customize and print their own robot figurine. You can choose from a selection of heads, arms, torsos, and legs, then color and add decorations as you please. My Robot Nation is essentially an awesome, robot-themed version of every online character-making game you played as a kid; the big difference is that when you’re done, the robot gets delivered to your door.

4) Print The Loot from a Video Game

Image Credit Hyrule Foundry

Image Credit Hyrule Foundry

If you still hear “dun-un-un-uuh!” in your head every time you open a box, then I’ve got bad news for you: you’re a Zelda addict. Luckily, you aren’t alone. At Hyrule Foundry, you can order one of the items from the Legend of Zelda universe. The artist uses the Zelda games for inspiration, and Shapeways to get the actual items printed. Now you can own a classic sword, ring, key, or any other item. The pieces are pocket sized, and perfect for displaying on your bookshelf next to your SNES cartridges.

5) Pose (and Print) Your Favorite Collectible Figurine

Image Credit Sandboxr

Image Credit Sandboxr

The problem with collectible figurines is that you can’t control the pose, or the way it looks. Well, that used to be a problem. Now, you can just print a character in nearly any pose you want. Sandboxr is a program that allows animators to release their characters for 3D printing. They already figured out how the character looks and moves; you just have to select your favorite pose.

Sanboxr is still in beta, but if you hurry, you can get early access and help them develop it. The program will also let you design and print your own characters, and even customize existing ones.

This is just a small sample of the amazing world that 3D printing has opened. You can literally design and print whatever you want, exactly how you want it. What are you going to make?


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