Loyd Price compares the 3D printed model to the real thing
MakerBot have Sesame Street, Shapeways have My Little Pony, 3D Systems have Star Trek and now everybody’s favourite clay models have found their own 3D printing partner as Things3D launch their official range of Aardman merchandise.
The Manchester, UK – based startup is the brainchild of Joe Wee and Chris Byatte, whose previous venture Chillingo – original publisher of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope – was sold to Electronic Arts for $20m.
The pair then started Things3D in order to “open up the next mobile gaming frontier via 3D printing”. Things3D hope to achieve this by incorporating 3D printed models into mobile gaming with the assistance of NFC chips and other interactive technology.
Things3D want to take the digital-to-physical trend for gaming, started by Skylanders and recently the Disney Infinity series, and open it up to a whole new truck-load of developers who may have deemed this trend too expensive to explore. 3D printing opens up the opportunities to these developers by driving down the cost of model making. This sort of smartphone game complete with 3D printed product has previously been explored by MakieLab with their MAKIE dolls.
Not content with the mobile gaming opportunities enhanced with 3D printing, Things3D are also in the business of officially licensed models complete with smartphone authentication and hidden features.
Previously at Chillingo, Wee and Byatte worked with Aardman Digital in order to publish the officially licensed Shaun the Sheep game ‘Home Sheep Home 2’, this relationship with Aardman has no doubt stood Things3D in good stead as they announce their first licensed products are from the clay-model animation geniuses.
The Things3D team were given exclusive access in the Bristol studios to the real models of the likes of Morph, Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit in order to scan them for a resulting 3D print. The team at Aardman were stunned by the levels of detail picked up by the Artec handheld scanner.
“The amount of detail that has been captured is astonishing,” says Wallace & Gromit’s Creative Director, Merlin Crossingham. “For example on the eyes (of the physical model), there’s very clear thumb marks and actually on the digital Morph you can clearly identify my thumbprints.”
After being captured the models are then 3D printed in full colour with a gypsum-based compound as used by Z-Corp - now 3D Systems machines, hand-finished and embedded with chip technology to allow you to verify that yours is an official product. The chips will also give smartphone access to hidden features of your particular model in future Aardman games and apps.
The limited edition models vary in price from £55 for Morph to £138 for Wallace & Gromit, all come with a signed certificate of authentication by Aardman’s Oscar winning co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton.
The Aardman series is just the first step for the incredibly ambitious Wee and Bryatte and though the official licensing of a renowned brand like Wallace & Gromit may seem a lucrative venture enough, it is the mobile gaming digital-to-physical products that interest them most. The next products will be a tie in with an already successful mobile game, Chimpact, which will see the developer integrate Things3D's SDK package by creating models to interact with in-game characters.