Company Spotlight: a Q and A with Christina from MakieLab

UPDATE 10/2016: The Makies brand seems to be dead right now. The site never re-opened and social media hasn’t been updated. As of this update, I am considering Makies out of business. Brands have been known to surprise us before and come out of oblivion, so you never know what will happen. But, for the time being, I would try to find a Makie second hand if you’re looking to add one to your collection. This interview was done a few months before the beginning of the end. Clearly, they had plans, some which were very exciting by the sounds of it, but alas, most of them never saw the light of day.

Makies are very popular jointed 3D printed dolls.  I’ve been a fan ever since I stumbled upon a facebook advertisement. Currently, I own two Makies and love them both! Because of this, I thought they’d be the perfect company to spotlight with a Q and A post! Christina Hsu, CMO of Makielab, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the line and the changes they have recently rolled out.

Makie Me!

Question: Makies have been on the cutting edge of the doll world creatively since they made their debut. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for this unique line?
Answer: Absolutely! Our CEO and Co-Founder, Alice Taylor, came up with the idea for Makies while attending an industry toy fair. At the time she was a corporate executive working in the digital and games space. As an avid gamer herself, she thought — how cool would it be to bring digital/virtual goods to life in physical form. And, since she had a toddler at home, she set out to create a toy that her own child would love. It was important for the new toy to be stereotype-breaking, forward thinking, technology related and overall AWESOME. What happened next? Makies were introduced!

Since we started the company, we set out to make the best toys that we can imagine, which turns out is the best toy that all of you can imagine. Makies are the world’s first 3d printed toys, certified toy-safe for children 3+. We love that kids of all ages, from age 5 to 95, can enjoy our products and the experiences of making them.

Question: How have fans taken to the line? How does that make you, as a company, feel?
Answer: Our fans have been so supportive and enthusiastic since day one. Our first iteration of the dolls were prototypes to test our Makie Maker engine, and to see if there was demand for 3D printed characters. And it worked! Ever since we have been optimizing and improving our product. It doesn’t stop here. We’re driven by product development. We’re happy to say anyone who has experienced creating and making a Makie has given us incredibly helpful and positive feedback.

How does it make us feel? We love it! We love hearing feedback and seeing our customers’ excitement. We physically make the Makies, but you are truly creating the Makies universe with us and we couldn’t be happier! The creativity we see on social media with everything all of our fans have done with their Makies is incredibly inspiring. It keeps us moving forward on a daily basis. So we want to send a big thanks to our community!

Question: One thing that draws Makies apart from other doll lines is that the company isn’t afraid to take risks. Cutting right to the chase, what can you tell us about the changes that were recently made to the Makies dolls?
Answer: As you know, Makies are premium, modern, creative dolls. We love that we can give creators, like yourself, a chance to make their own dolls. Since we launched, we’ve been listening to our customers and hearing your feedback. In fact, we plan to launch more feedback and surveys, so it would mean the world to hear from you when we do.

We’ve learned that for people who love Makies but don’t buy, it’s overwhelmingly because the price is too high. 3D printing is expensive technology, and over the past few years we’ve optimized our processes and models to bring our costs down and pass the savings on to Makies fans. Unfortunately, materials costs haven’t come down as fast as we’d hoped, and we realized that the only way we could continue to keep our custom dolls on the market and offer them at an affordable price was to introduce injection molded bodies. We thought hard and explored a lot of options before arriving at this decision. We’re a very small company, and we need growth in order to survive and thrive in the competitive toy space.

At this time, we have Girl Makies available for purchase. Our Boy Makies will be taking a “vacation” for the rest of 2015 and will return with new and improved bodies in early 2016. Most of the creativity happens with the custom face and accessories which continue to be fully 3d printed. With the introduction of the new bodies, we’ve been able to drop the price of a Makie doll from $115 / £69 to $74.99/£49.99. Best of all they are still made locally in Kent, England.

Makie Cosplaying as Doctor Whooves

Question: How will these changes affect the line? What are the positives and/or negatives?
Answer: What these changes mean specifically: the customizable elements of the doll remain EXACTLY as they were before: fully-custom sculptural facial features, choices of skin tone, choices of outfit, choices of hair and eyes and accessories. The new body is smoother, so it’s much easier to dress compared to the former 3D printed surface, and it’s also shinier. Most joints have been re-designed: the new neck joint is much more robust, and the wrist and ankle joints have been adjusted so they’re easier to play with than ever. A side effect of this is that hands and pop-on shoes designed for the former 3D printed bodies won’t fit the new bodies and vice-versa: we’ve heard from many Makie owners that they’d still like the option of buying goodies for their fully 3D printed Makies, so we’re looking at ways to make that happen.

A big plus is that the combination of the new plastics and the slightly tweaked joints gives Makies a wider range of motion and freer joint movement. New Makies can pose in ways that weren’t possible before – they can even do the splits! The hands and feet are more detailed, and Makies continue to be toy-safe and practically indestructible. Best of all, you can now bring a Makie home for far less money (35% lower than before). The dolls are still one-of-a-kind, custom and unique to you only.

We’re already looking into how to improve these new bodies, too. This includes minimizing seams and injection marks (which are very common in plastic toys), making better color matches, and updating our shop offerings for new Makies, including hands and shoes.

Makies Banner

Makies Banner

Question: Does the changing of the body type limit the skin tone options? How do the new colors compare to the colors used prior to the new bodies?
Answer: Ice Frosting (plain white) has been retired for now, but we still offer three delicious choices: Strawberry Milk (pink flesh tone), Cool Caramel (tan flesh tone) and Cocoa Bean (rich brown tone). We’re looking into additional tones too, and would love to expand the range in 2016 – we’ll see!

Right now, we’re working with our suppliers to minimize the slight variation between the tone and finish of Makie faces and the new bodies, which is most apparent with Cocoa Bean. When Makies are dressed the differences are barely noticeable, but of course we’d like to get the match perfect!

Question: Are the ‘old’ style 3DP bodies gone or is there hope that that kind of body might stick around for die-hard 3DP Makies fans?
Answer: For the time being, fully 3D printed Makies aren’t available, but we’ve heard from many Makie fans who would still like to buy them, so we’re looking into how we can offer them. It’s not as straightforward as it may seem … but watch this space. 🙂

Makies

Makies

Question: Do you have any final remarks for my readers? Where can we find/follow Makies online?
Answer: At MakieLab, we are constantly looking at ways to optimize and improve our Makies and the Makies experience. We recently participated in a program with The Walt Disney Company and announced some exciting news which you can see here. We can’t say more than that for now, but definitely follow us (@officialmakies) on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. We’ll share more information as it becomes publicly available in a few weeks or so.

One final note, thanks to all our Makies friends for your support, feedback and enthusiasm for our product. We love Makies and what makes every day even better for us, is developing Makies that you love too. We love to see what you make and how you play with Makies – please share your creations on social media with us!

Huge thank you to Christina for answering my questions! I love how Makies continue to change and grow.  Some companies become popular and then are too afraid to adapt or improve upon their concept– MakieLab does not fall into that category. The changes they’re implementing now may seem like a lot to some, but I have faith that they’ll make the line even better than before.

The news announced at the 2015 Disney Accelerator Demo Day regarding Makies (and other start ups) is very exciting. From the article, “MakieLab lets kids bring toys to life by building their own customizable 3D-printed toys through creative games and apps. MakieLab will be introducing Disney-, Disney•Pixar- and Marvel-branded accessories for Makie dolls, as well as helping kids create their own versions of a Star Darling—inspired by Disney’s brand-new franchise for girls—in Fall 2016.” Funny enough, I was just thinking how neat it would be if MakieLab worked with Disney–they can make so many cool things with their 3D printers.  Sign me up for two Makie sized Mickey Mouse ear hats!

I encourage you to say hello to the MakieLab team via the social media sites linked in the interview. What do you think of the changes currently being made to the Makie line? Do you own a Makie?  Are you excited about MakieLab’s creating Disney themed accessories for Makie dolls? (Clearly, with my newest Disney toy endeavour, I am!) Share your thoughts below.

Advertisements

November 12, 2015. Tags: . Uncategorized.

11 Comments

  1. barbielea replied:

    Great article as always! Hmm. I don’t know about the proposed changes. I really love the old Makie bodies and I’m not sure what I think about “shinier” bodies – doesn’t sound very good for photography purposes, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see them. Being the proud owner of two beautiful Ice Frosting dolls, I think ditching this colour is a mistake, although I suppose they must know better than me what sells. I also hate the fact that new Makie shoes won’t fit the old bodies, surely that could have been overcome. I hope I can get the money together to order a new Makie before the changes come in, just in case … We’ll see. Whatever – I’ve always been fond of Makielab because it’s nice to see a UK toy company doing such great things, and because they take such a different, friendlier, more open attitude on social media etc to other, bigger toy companies. I wish them well, and hope these changes bring them more business in.

    • Madeline W. replied:

      I just felt I should let you know that changes already came in some time ago, the 3D printed bodies have already been retired and any you order from now on will have the IM body. The news was announced a couple of months back on Facebook and via email. So unfortunately you won’t be able to get one before the changes happen, sorry! 😦

      • barbielea replied:

        Really? OK, thanks. I did get the email about the price change etc, but when I went to check the site they were still up for the same price so I didn’t think they’d made the switch-over yet, plus I realise that I misread the part about changes to boys’ bodies as referring to the changes in general – sorry. Shame. I won’t be buying til I’ve seen some reviews of the new bodies and the colour difference issue is resolved. Hope the new bodies are OK. I’d really like another.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I never purchased any Ice Frosting skintones. If I had known they could be dyed so easily, I would have bought one for sure! Maddy is right, the changes have already started to happen. There’s a really good Facebook group that has photos of some of the new girls: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OfficialMakiesFanGroup/ If you’re on FB, you should check out the photos. The skin tones have been a little off, to my eye, but I have faith they’ll work it all out. You’re totally right about them being a friendly, open company. They announced all the changes on the FB group, but I wasn’t sure I could talk about them, so I never posted about it. They’re just so nice!

  2. Jenna O'Carroll replied:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m so happy to hear they’re considering more skin tone options, there’s a real need imo for a darker tan that’s not quite “black” but not “just got a tan” complexion. I’m also still waiting with crossed fingers for the 3dp option heh. Though having handled the new im bodies, they’re pretty decent. Shinier than many might like, but the match between strawberry head and body seemed decent to my eye. I wrote a whole blog about it already.

    http://flyingpurplemonkfish.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/big-changes-over-at-makie-labs.html

    I’ve got one last boy arriving hopefully next week (he’s still printing) and then I think i’ll be waiting impatiently for the boys to be back in feb sorta time lol. I love boy dolls, custom boy dolls are especially special. Makies are addictive, i’m surprised you had the strength to stop at only 2 lol. I’m up to 20 now *cough cough* oops?

    I already miss frosting, the dye potential there was super exciting. I have a blue makie, a teal one, a purple one and a green one. Rainbow coloured Makies ftw! I also have two white ones. A lot of us were pretty distressed about the retiring of the colour, but mostly because it coupled with the IM bodies meant no more crazy coloured Makie dolls. Dunking a white one in a boiling vat of dye was super easy and so effective, you can’t dye im plastic really and I don’t feel like spraypainting would look nearly as good. I still live in hope they’ll reintroduce the fully 3dp bodies, even if only in base white for us to dye at home. Because I wouldn’t be able to resist a few more to add to my rainbow of dollies.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Thanks for reading! The fact that the white bodies were able to be dyed was a surprise to me when I first heard about it (a few weeks before they retired the white). I can totally understand why collectors wouldn’t want them to go away. Some of the colors people have made their Makies are so cool! I’m a little bit worried about how the new bodies skintones mix with the 3D printed pieces, which is why I’ve decided to hold off until they tweak the process a bit until I get my next one. I tink she’ll be Strawberry Milk. My Makies both have darker skin. And one day, when they bring the boys back, I want to order a boy of my own. BTW, GREAT article! Your purple girl is so cool!!!

    • barbielea replied:

      Argh! Should have read this before I wrote the reply ^^^, as your link to the review was just what I wanted! Thanks, that has made it a lot clearer. I’ll think it over.

      • Jenna O'Carroll replied:

        Heh no worries. I’ve got a boy coming hopefully in the next few days. they’re currently half and half with 3dp bodies but im arms and legs, which is.. odd. He’s dark too and the colour match on the dark ones seems to be not so good as the paler colours but we’ll see.
        I’m super eager to see what they do with the boys though, i’m hoping like heck for more facial slider options like the ability to extrude the bridge of the nose for “hooked” style noses and such. That would delight me and mean many more Makies heh.

  3. Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) replied:

    I really love the concept of Makies but I’ve never taken the plunge, as it were – I’m quite excited by the idea of the price drop though as it makes it much more justifiable. I feel a trip to the Makie website coming on… 🙂

  4. Makies Are On the Move | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] of Makies and have tried to add one to my collection every few years. Most recently, I posted an interview with Christina, current Chief Marketing Officer, in an effort to understand some of the recent changes Makies has […]

  5. Dolly Review: Makies Disney Outfits (Prototypes/Test Run) | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] my Q and A post I did with Makies right before they closed up shop? I made a point to ask them about their […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: