Monday, May 13, 2013

Personalized Toys

On one level, this advertisement from Disney isn't that special. I remember going to Disney way back in the late 80s and getting some custom-made plastic gewgaw that I promptly threw in the bottom of the old toy bin as soon as we returned home. I also had mugs with my dogs face on it and I'm sure everyone has given at least one 'Build-A-Bear' stuffed animal or engraved knickknack from "Things Remembered." However, I do think 3D printing offers up something new.

For one thing, the 11 year old version of me would have gone insane for this kind of thing. Just in the interest of honesty, that needs to be said. But I also know that the possibilities of this technology would have been just as compelling. With a little tinkering, you could imagine actual action figures with a real person's face on them or stuff animals with stylized rendering of a real pet. I'm not sure everyone would want this, but you have to imagine there would be some kind of market for it.

The only problem is that I'm not sure this future really involves toy stores as we know them. Once the price comes down for commercial 3D printers, a lot of this stuff will probably be bought as a design from a service like Amazon and simply rendered at home.

The other question is whether or not having children play with their own rendered images is a good thing.  Creative play bringing a person's own identity into the mix adds a dimension of immersion. However, one has to wonder if our culture isn't already raising an impressive number of narcissistic individuals swept up in their own exquisitely tailored mental terrariums.
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