Dear Mr. Doyle and list:
I was thinking along the same lines from a marketing perspective, but I'm
glad you put some numbers on the situation which I couldn't have done. No
doubt, no matter how expensive, there will always be some kids that have the
wherewithal. I vividly remember in third grade the teacher asking all the
kids in the class each in turn what they wanted to be when they grew up, and
the boy next to me said, "a philanthropist." I suspect his family might have
been in the correct market segment, but the rest of us didn't get the joke.
I only barely understand it now.
The question is, what can be done to lower the costs and widen the appeal?
Perhaps one way of increasing the market size would be to build semi-custom
toys. Maybe what the world might like to see is (yet) another Toxic Avenger
with little Jason's face. Or maybe Barbi's new friend is a replica of little
Jennifer. The majority portions of such toys could be injection molded with
only the face customized. Significant variations could be offered and still
keep costs low. These toys could be more complex than fully custom toys,
relieve the burden of ground-up design from parents and kids, and - most
important - offer tie-ins with larger firms that could offer marketing and
I suspect that Pokemon action figures with custom faces would be a fairly
easy sale. (Assuming kids are still into Pokemon.)
Another semi-custom approach might be to modify pre-existing digital models
of cars and other kid-interesting objects, with a large, but still limiting,
library of customizing features. This would limit the variations and make
the finishing process easier to deal with.
I recently read that Disney Interactive is offering a 3D-Doodling program for
$30 on CD-ROM (Pop Sci 9/00 p24). This might be an appropriate program and
maybe there are others. Basic starting models could be available on the TB
(or other) site for download and the modfied versions could be sent back by
email for manufacture. Again in this case, some parts might be injection
moded, the burden of starting from scratch is relieved and maybe it would be
possible to suck in George Lucas.
These proposals aren't new, of course, and there are even patents in the area
of doll making. However, the combination of Karl's SW solution for
generating facial features, new kid-oriented modeling SW, and market tie-ins
might result in much wider dissemination of the technology than would
otherwise be possible.
Please remember us when you become a philanthropist Karl.
Castle Island Co.
19 Pondview Road
Arlington, MA 02474 USA
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
In a message dated 00-08-10 17:32:51 EDT, you write:
<< Before I get labeled a naysayer, please understand that as an employee of a
large RP manufacturer, I am fully aware of the cost of the various RP
We're talking tens of thousands of dollars here just for the machines, not
including the cost of materials, labor to model the parts, labor to finish
parts, shipping, etc. How do you propose to make these toys inexpensive
for the average parent? Let's take the scepter for example...assuming CAD
of 30 minutes or so at an average industry rate of $30/hr, plus SLA machine
of 2-4 hours at whatever is being charged these days ($$$$), add the time to
completely finish the part ($15-$20/hr) and you have a toy that costs
between $500-$2000. Granted, it's unique. But when parents are choking on
for a Sega or Nintendo system, how do you convince someone to spend this
money on a static (again, albeit unique) toy?
I agree that putting RP in front of the masses is a good idea (hey, it's how
make my living too). But until the price of these parts comes down to a level
that those same masses can afford, I don't see a (near) future in this.
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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