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. The fandom is still alive and well on Facebook, so I recommend searching Makies there and joining one of the fan groups.
If this first week of 2016 is any indication, it’s going to be a whirlwind year for doll collectors. Fresh off the heels of Mattel and their Monster High reboot fiasco, Makies has announced a quick change of their own. Operations are moving from the UK to the United States. Shocker, right? Part of the fun of Makies for me has always been that they weren’t produced by a US based company. Knowing this doll was printed and shipped from the UK made the wait for her very exciting. It was like my Makie was already having an adventure, even though she hadn’t yet arrived at my doorstep! On top of that, the 2 week shipping promise was usually on point, which is a very short wait for a custom doll from another country.
I first became acquainted with Makies back in November of 2013. A Facebook ad for Makies had popped up on the sidebar of my timeline and it stirred my curiosity. 3D printed dolls that you could design? How cool was that? Shortly after, I sent out an e-mail to Jen, who was the Communications Director at the time, asking for more information on the line. Honestly, I didn’t expect an e-mail back. Not many companies care about tiny blogs like mine. But surprisingly, shortly after sending the message, Jen replied back and answered all my questions. That’s when I realized that MakieLabs wasn’t your typical doll business. Since that original correspondence, I’ve tried to keep track 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 been going through this past six months.
The most recent bombshell from the company happened the other day, when the website displayed the following message: Makies are moving to America! Things are afoot and so the MakieLab is moving to the USA. The land of opportunity awaits. Will they be back online soon? Have they gone back to the future? Watch this space…
The line, “have they gone back to the future” makes me wonder if they’ve devised a way to keep the new price, but still have fully 3D printed bodies. The new plastic bodies they introduced a few months back look like they have a lot of kinks to work out still, so maybe they’re going back to the original concept of having your doll be 3D printed from head to toe? I’d be more than okay with that!
There are a few reasons why this move could be happening, but honestly, it’s all speculation at this point. All the company has officially posted is the blurb on the website. Does it have something to do with being accepted into the Disney Accelerator program for 2015, a program where they receive funding and mentorship? Maybe, but I don’t see any rule stating the companies need to be in the US full-time to be accepted. Could it be that the US has allowances for businesses that the UK doesn’t? I have literally no idea. It’s a huge question mark as to why this move is happening.
What I can safely deduce, though, is that most likely the move has very little to do with the fan base or competitive sales (US vs UK). There are a lot of collectors here in the States, but the UK collectors are far more boisterous about the line. In fact, most of the people I’ve talked with who own Makies are based somewhere in the UK, not the US. At least, that’s how it seems based on the doll shows I’ve attended with my Makies, where people tend to ask me lots of questions about them, because they have never heard of the line and/or weren’t sure if they could trust it.
The move itself is frustrating to me, because it seems to have come out of nowhere. Thank goodness I didn’t buy anyone gift cards this Christmas! With no re-opening date posted and no idea what this new Makie store will look like and offer, I would hate to think I gave someone a gift that they couldn’t use for who knows how long.
Those in the UK have even more reasons to be frustrated, I’d imagine, because I’ve heard the horror stories about the fees that are tacked onto packages from the US and elsewhere. I would hate for Makies to be hard to get in the country that they originated in. I also feel bad for the people who helped build MakieLabs (the brand), who may not be able/want to move their entire lives to the USA.
My hope is that MakieLabs will give us a bit more information as soon as they can. Collectors young and old would really like to know more about the future of the line or, at the very least, when the shop will reopen. And then there’s the weird boys in the website screenshot (ie: the guy with the beard). What’s the deal with him? I don’t dislike him, but I’m hungry for information.
What do you think of Makies and their move to the US? Pros? Cons? Share your thoughts in the comment area!
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
I went a bit overboard this past Black Friday. In my defense, there were so many amazing sales on dolls that I would have majorly regretted not picking a lot of these guys up!!!! Of course, all of these dolls will be getting full reviews in January, but here’s a sneak peek!!!!
Wilde Imagination Black as Night Basic Parnilla: This doll was a steal. I picked up this wigged Parnilla for under $100. She’s my first doll in the Evangeline Ghastly line, not to mention my first Wilde Imagination purchase ever! For some reason, I’ve always preferred Parnilla to Evangeline. I’m not sure why, to be honest! I think it has something to do with her face. As far as the outfit on Black as Night Parnilla, I don’t like it. The same goes for her wig. My goal in picking up this particular doll was that I wanted a Parnilla that I could change-up every now and then. If I had spent $200 on a fantastic, dressed to the nine’s Parnilla, I wouldn’t want to ruin her look by changing her outfits and wigs. This basic doll gives me the freedom I wanted in my Wilde Imagination doll!
Makie Lab Makie: Makies ran an incredible sale for Black Friday. It included a discounted price on the Makie itself and free shipping if you reached a certain price point ($115, which is the usual Makie price). I had told myself I would buy another Makie in 2015, but the sale was too good to pass up.
Wilde Imagination Patience Glinda: I’m worried about Patience. Wilde Imagination seems to be discounting them a lot with tag lines that play on the idea of ‘losing patience’. That doesn’t bode well for the line. Hopefully, Wilde Imagination is just clearing out their stock to make room for new things! This doll actually belongs to my mother. She’s an avid Wizard of Oz doll collector. It’s interesting to see how Patience’s eyes work. I assumed they were like a Pullip, with a mech you control, but they actually work more like a Giggles doll and move on their own.
A Girl for All Time Lydia: Lydia arrived at my doorstep in exchange for a review. You don’t know how excited I am to share her with you!!! For right now, you’ll have to be content with a few photos. I don’t want her review to be overshadowed by Christmas, so her review will be posted late December or early January. Spoiler alert– I adore Lydia!
Monster High Ghouls Talk 2-pack: My mom stumbled upon this Monster High 2-pack, a KMart exclusive here in the States. It’s super cute and features Catrine and Rochelle in their pajama’s. It’s nice seeing Catrine and Rochelle in a casual look.
Jun Planning AI Hybrid Statice: AI Ball Jointed Dolls have been popping up at Tuesday Morning for months now. Occasionally, we’ll see one at our local store. This week, we found Hybrid Statice!
Did you pick up any amazing dolly deals this week or did any of your dolly purchases arrive recently? Share your thoughts below!
Back in January, I ordered a Makie, the brainchild of MakieLab‘s. Makies are the first 3D printed dolls that you can customize. When my Makie arrived, I posted a box opening video and post, promising a real review when I had enough time to really play with her. Here’s the promised review!
Let’s talk a bit about Makies in general, before jumping into details about my Makie. When ordering a Makie, you’re ordering a few things. First, you’re ordering a custom made head (eyes included) that you create in a special web based app (or on your Apple device) on a jointed stock body. Because no doll wants to arrive naked, you have the option of a handful of outfits (chosen in the app). Last, but not least, you choose a wig. Wigs are non-removable unless you write the company after you order and request the wig be removable. I did that for my Makie, because I wanted to add that extra level of customization to her. (We all like changing our hair every now and then, right?)
Creating my Makie, who I eventually named Siena after my favorite Italian city, was really easy. The website application worked fine and it was relatively easy to see how you were manipulating the head mold. It didn’t take long at all to create something I loved.
Communication after ordering was fantastic. I e-mailed them with a question and got a response very quickly. They kept me informed as to what part of the process my Makie was at, too, via e-mail. As promised, about two weeks later, a package from MakieLab’s arrived from London! (Apparently, it made a stop in Germany, too! Siena’s already been to more countries than myself!)
I’ll be honest– there are some Makies out there that I just don’t like. But their owners? They seem to love them! I guess that’s the nice thing about Makies– since you are the ‘designer’, there’s a good chance you’ll create something you think is aesthetically pleasing.
That’s what happened with Siena. There were things I knew I didn’t want. I didn’t want a block-like, square face. I, also, didn’t want very squinty eyes and I definitely didn’t want my Makie to be stark white or a light peach. I’d seen images of Makies that were light skinned and I wasn’t won over by them. Plus, I figured my collection needed a bit more diversity to it.
Let’s talk about Siena. I’m sure the burning question on your mind is this: is she a good representation of the graphic I created when I ordered her? Yes. I believe Siena looks a lot like her virtual self. The skin color is a slightly different shade than expected, but as these are hand dyed, I expected so much.
Siena came with a light face up on her cocoa skin. I chose to give Siena large eyes (angled down slightly), round cheeks, a large mouth with defined lips and a button nose. One of my favorite aspects of her design are her pointy ears! There was no way she was going to have normal human ears!
Her eye brows are shaded in with a dark brown. I made my dolls eye brows pretty thick, so I’m happy the face up included those. Directly above the eye is a thin line of black eyeliner, topped with an equally thin line of light pink.
It looks like they used a watercolor pencil or something similar to that for the face up. She doesn’t have drawn on eye lashes or ‘real’ eyelashes, though I have seen some Makie’s leaving London with what look like ‘real’ lashes. (Don’t quote me on that, though!)
The eye make up is very simple. If you’re looking for something more elaborate, you have to e-mail the company to see what options they might offer you or order the girl without a face up and do it yourself. I don’t believe there is any blush on Siena’s cheeks, but she does have rosy lips, also done in what looks like some sort of watercolor pencil.
I chose to give Siena bright green eyes. They are roughly 16″ eyes.
The look inside Siena’s head is kind of interesting. The head cap is super simple to take off. (Just pinch the top and bottom of it and it’s off.) Once open, you’ll expose a unique eye mechanism. You’ll also notice the thing that draws this apart from most 1/6 bjd’s– the eyes. Makies don’t use full round eyes, like you see in other dolls. They use strange half eyes. You can remove these eyes and put in eyes of your own, but know that the perfect balance these have might be compromised if you do that! Also, the eye mech might not work very well, so you’ll probably need putty. I don’t plan on changing Siena’s eyes because they look great as is, but you can change them if you’d like.
Siena has a hollow sort of feeling to her body that makes her feel lighter than the similarly sized ABS plastic Hujoo. I don’t feel there’s a great difference between Siena and a Hujoo, but of the two, Siena is a little lighter.
She has a number of joints. Her head moves as you’d expect, up, down, left and right. It takes more force to move it into position than you’d think.
She has joints in her shoulders, elbows and wrists, as well. There is no joint in her torso. Of course, she has joints at her thighs, knees and ankles. Her limbs move more fluidly than her head does.
As far as posing, I think she holds her own to other 1/6 bjd’s. There are some limitations to her joints. Her elbow joint is the most limited when compared to other bjd’s. It doesn’t rotate left or right, just moves up and down. The knees are similar. They don’t rotate left or right, either.
Because this doll was made with customizing in mind, most (not all) of the joints were made to be removable. Her head, shoulder, wrist, thigh and ankle joints can be removed from the ball joint and then placed right back on. The shoulder was a little tough for me to take off, but the other parts were easy.
One surprising aspect of Siena’s body is her back. There’s a huge battery compartment like square in her back. Apparently, this is so you can ‘mod’ or ‘hack’ your Makie. To be honest, adding wires to my dolls has never occurred to me, but I guess I can see how this could be a fun for the engineering types. Older style Makies had a hollow neck, so you could literally move wires from the ‘battery compartment’ into the head. It looks like they have modified the neck mold to no longer allow wires to move up and into the head.
For those, like me, who have no interest in modding in any way that would need a battery compartment, note that you might want to limit the number of ‘low back’ tops or back photography you do with your Makie because the compartment goes relatively high on her back.
Besides the large rectangle on her back, I have to talk a bit about the shape of her torso. It’s not as feminine as you’d expect. It’s kind of blocky and her bust looks a little strange to me. This probably has a lot to do with the hidden compartment on her back, though.
While proportionate to her limbs, her hands do have a bit of a fork like look. The fingers are very straight and pointy. I hope they improve on those one of these days. I should have ordered an extra set of hands.
I really like her feet, though! They’re not too large or too small and they even have toe-nail imprints on them.
Now that we’ve gone over a bit about the body’s look, how does it feel? And, because many of you asked, how does it compare to the ABS of a Hujoo? Siena’s body feels different, that’s for sure, from a resin or ABS plastic bjd.
It’s textured, like wood grain. You’ll see on the 3D printed limbs circular patterns that are reminiscent of the top of a tree stump.
If you’re a Hujoo collector, you’ll notice a difference right away between the smooth, shiny plastic of the Hujoo and the wood grain like plastic of a Makie.
Siena balances beautifully!!! Seriously, I never have to worry about her. MakieLab’s did a wonderful job on creating a doll that stands in various position on both legs or even one leg! (Disclaimer- it did take me a few tries to get her to stand on one leg, but any doll that can do that at least once, earns a gold star in my book!) Because of the tight ball joints, she holds poses super well, too.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Makies come with an outfit and a wig of your choosing. This is where the company really needs to improve, I think. I have a few different Makie outfits and they all look like hard work was put into them. For that, they get kudo’s. I’m not a huge fan of the construction of the outfits, though.
The outfit my Makie came in was a pretty purple dress. The fabric was nice and the color worked really well on Siena, but, sadly, the fit was off in the torso. It was just too big for her.
Most of the separates I received as part of a special they were running were decent, but nothing to write home about.
I do love the little pink apron. That has a lot of personality. And the jeans are great!
My favorite dress is actually the long, blue polka dotted dress. It fits much better than the purple dress. The fabric used on the top portion sticks a bit to the textured plastic, but it looks super cute on Siena! Add the awesome 3D printed glasses and Siena is ready to go out!
What else can Siena wear? You’re probably safe with most outfits that fit 1/6 scale dolls.
I tried Siena in a handful of Mattel My Scene outfits and they fit well enough.
For Siena, I chose a long blonde wig with a side part. I chose the long wig because after seeing owner images of some of the shorter ones, I wasn’t sure about them. I feel like some of the wigs look much better in the creation app than they do in real life, especially the short wigs.
Long was the safest choice, I thought. (Again, this is such a subjective point– you guys might love the short wigs.) I see now they have many more wigs to choose from when ordering. The purple, blue and red wigs look pretty nice, actually.
I’m pretty sure, if I were ordering now, my Makie would have a fantasy hair color! The wig cap itself is a little loosely rooted, but it fits Siena’s head well enough and, with a little bit of styling, looks pretty cute on her!
I requested my wig be removable for Seina. She seems to fit the same wigs my MSD bjd’s do. Most of those are a size 6-7.
The fact that Makies are created with 3D printer technology still amazes me. I think it’s so neat that this kind of tech is being introduced in the doll world. The staff at MakieLabs really do deserve a pat on the back for making so many strides and improvements upon their product. Some of the early Makies are, let’s be honest, not the most adorable things around. But with any product, there’s a learning curve and these guys aren’t afraid to make the necessary changes to improve on their designs, seen most recently with the introduction of the ‘Cutie’ style faces.
I don’t think you can make a Makie and dislike it. In the end, the doll was designed by you. My Siena may look like some of the other dolls on the Makie site, but somewhere in the specs, there is a key difference, even if it’s something as subtle as the bridge of the nose or the angle of the ears.
Makies aren’t the cheapest dolls around, but from what I can tell, a lot of time and effort is put into making the whole experience (from ordering to receiving) enjoyable. The quality is there. Makies are a solid doll from head to toe. I’m very happy with my Makie. Siena turned out just as adorable as I hoped she would. I would highly consider adding a Makie to your personal collection!
As usual, I’ve put together a video review. It’s super long, but I wanted to get as much in as possible!!!
Questions? Comments? Share them below!
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.
Two weeks ago, I ordered a Makie. And today? She arrived! Now, don’t get too excited yet. This isn’t a full review. This is a box opening post! Almost immediately after getting home from work, I sat down in front of the camera to record a box opening video. Watch it below!
This is Siena, my Makie. As I’ve only had her for a few short hours, I haven’t had time to take many photos. Rest assured, it’s on my to do list!!! For now, enjoy this little sneak peek of Siena!
First impressions? I like her a lot! I think she looks great and very similar to my original computer image. Because Makie is a new doll line, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I’m very pleased with the face up and with the body coloring.
Expect more on Siena in coming weeks! For now, though, feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions about this Makie or Makies in general!