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3D Printed Toys – The Game Changer for the Collectibles Industry

by Nice Rapid | Feb 27,2021 | 3D Printing

Ask a toy customizer what’s the blessing in disguise they have received in the last few years, and they will tell you without a shred of a doubt that is FDM 3D printing. If you are a toy enthusiast, you can get a glimpse at how many of these folks create masterpieces that emulate and sometimes improve the original designs of toy company licensors of big brands such as Hasbro and Mattel. These companies are currently the holders of licenses to create toys based on Marvel Comics, Star Wars, GiJoe, and DC Comics.

The Process of Making an Action Figure

As right holders, these companies have to pay a licensing fee to ensure they continue to pour products. The way they save money with this is by creating these figurines using 3D printing technology. Long gone are the days when a sculptor spent long days creating a detailed action figure. These days most of this work is created using software and FDM 3D printing. It all begins with the creation of a buck or a body type. Since many of these companies look to standardize the collections of many people worldwide, the size of choice of their most popular products is 6 inches.

Next comes the tooling of the buck. These pros would never go for a standardized buck these days since most collectors (kids and adults alike) will call them on their bull. They have to create a series of bucks that can be reused as many times as possible with slight variations. Put a little nip and tuck here and there from character to character, and you’ll get a wide variety of products to sell while making them all look unique. Take Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, for instance: this line of toys has been running strong for close to 20 years now, and some of the figurines have become highly sought collectibles.

The Cost of Producing an Action Figure

How has Hasbro managed to get to this point? These rights usually elapse after 3 or 5 years. However, they keep a strong presence, and the brand looks more alive than ever. The answer is easy: they have worked from a base of at least seven variations of buck for the male and female figure. The last four of them were introduced during the previous six years of the line when they received complaints about inconsistencies in a single product wave. This, in turn, has turned out to be a very profitable business for them. By the end of 2020, the production cost of a single Marvel Legends figure was $4.75, the retail price? $20 apiece.

Although other companies have tried to replicate the formula, they have been inconsistent in their approach. That’s why Mattel recently lost the license to DC characters to McFarlane Toys. The company has emphasized detail by outsourcing their production line to China while making the prototypes back at home using state-of-the-art FDM 3D printing technology. The brand has experienced a steady increase in sales because it and the license holders could not be happier about it. If you wish to see more innovation in this field, keep your eyes open. Toys have changed a lot these days, and children and adults are brimming with nostalgia are reaping the benefits!

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