Monday, April 25, 2016

3D Printing Favorite 1980's Toy Characters - Day 1

Hi dudes and dudettes!

I thought I'd take a moment to write a bit about a project I am working on! Its in the early, early stages but I think it has a lot of potential!

That projects is . . . dum dum dum!

3D Printing our favorite 80s toys!

This Christmas I got a 3D printer as well as some plastic spools. I had been drooling over 3D printing for about 15 years since I first heard about an early version called a "Fab Lab." I knew that 3D printing would allow me to do some things with toys that were only possible using Sculpey clay. So I carefully watched the industry, waiting for the printers to get cheaper and better. Finally, my husband got tired of listening me talk about it and got me one for Christmas! I was completely surprised but also SUPER intimidated! I had no idea where to even start.

So the printer sat in my office for a few weeks. Finally, I broke it out and decided that "today would be the day."

I started by watching a lot of Youtube videos. In no time I figured out how to turn a 3D file into a printable file. I wont go into that right here but the first thing I printed was a skull:

As you can see the skull is very detailed, as to almost look real. I was hooked! I started printing a ton of free objects from In time I got quite good at figuring out how to print certain files so they would turn out well. We have printed bunnies for Easter, snakes, funny characters like Zelda and Anna from Frozen, etc! So it was time to figure out the creation side.


My ultimate goal is to be able to print 1980's toys! Here are some ideas:

- Print prototypes that are hard to find (Like my Treat Heart Pig)
- Print characters that never existed in toy-form like Noble Heart Horse.
- Print miniature, doll house versions of favorite 80's toys. Teeny SSC dolls, for instance
- Print accessories that might look cute with classic 80s characters
- Print custom fan items that never existed. An example would be a litter of pink kittens for Custard the cat.


Of course, if it were THAT easy, I would have them in The Pink Room already! But it isn't quite there yet.

In order for me to get a proper model of a toy I would either have to build it or scan it. 3D scanning is very possible but it is also very expensive. The scanners that tend to do the best are in the $3k range and they still have lots of issues. There are a few that are in the $500 range but they tend to cost quite a bit in "clean up" time.

Building is possible but my skill level isn't quite there. I have found a very cool (and free!) program called Sculptris that I am getting better at learning how to use. I have to say, it totally rocks for creating scary and odd alien-looking characters, but I'm struggling somewhat on the 1980's toy designs.

Also, printing isn't without its downfalls. Each item that prints has to have what's called "rafting" which is a grid-like structure that separates the piece from the surface its printing on. This grid is very hard to remove and has to be either sanded or melted off, which is somewhat of a pain. Some pieces that don't have a flat bottom (Treat Heart Pig's Head) will have to be heavily treated to remove the rafting.

Also, the plastic is very rigid. Sort of like the plastic used in water bottle lids, but much thicker. This means that certain toys won't be as flexible after its creation.

That said, I am still going to plug away at this idea. I think it will be fun to get really good at either scanning or sculpting.

If there is some toy item you would like to see 3D printed in the future, drop a comment! Remember, almost every plastic color is available, including glow in the dark! The sky is the limit! I would love to hear your brainstorms!

Have a good week!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds so fun! I'd love to see the mini SSC dolls you mentioned, or anything Rainbow Brite, Lady Lovely Locks, Care Bears, or MLP. :) Who'd have thought back when we were kids that 3D printing would be a thing? ;)