The quest to provide Barbie with a reasonable suit of 3D printed armor
Faire Play is a 3D printed suit of plate mail that's compatible with the Barbie Fashionistas line of dolls. It's Open Source.
Hail, and well met! I'm Jim Rodda, better known to the assorted scallywags, rapscallions, and ne'er-do-wells of the hobbyist 3D printing community as Zheng3.
My minor maker claim to fame is Seej, the Open Source tabletop war game based around 3D printing, but with this Kickstarter I'm trying something a little different.
I'm making Barbie-compatible 3D printed medieval armor.
It's important to note that I'm not now and never have been associated with Mattel, undisputed masters of Barbie and all her associated trademarks. I'm just some dude cranking out 3d models in his basement.
Barbie has had many occupations over her long and storied career. Astronaut, veterinarian, pinup, and princess more times than I can count. She has not, to my knowledge, cosplayed as Brienne of Tarth until now.
The field plate armor depicted in the photos and video above is a nice-enough prototype, good enough for patrolling the battlements at Stonemist Castle. But wearing it to a meeting of the Kingsguard? To the Council of Elrond? To prom? Honestly.
A fully funded Kickstarter will enable me to design and produce the next iteration of the prototype armor, a favolosa e bellissima ensemble that befits a lady of Barbie's high station.
Permit me to be crystal clear about two things:
1. My goal is primarily to distribute digital files for this armor; I'm happy to print rewards for backers but would prefer not to run a factory in the long term.
2. GIF is pronounced with a hard G, no matter what Steve Wilhite says.
The funding will cover the biodegradable plastic used to print the armor, replacement printer parts, and, most importantly, the time needed to design a highly detailed suit of armor, with all the engraving, ensorcelling, and enamelling Barbie's parade panoply deserves.
And test prints. Zounds, will there be test prints.
The armor will be distributed under a Creative Commons License. In a nutshell, you'll be able to modify, redistribute, and even sell the digital files and their derivatives as long as you credit the original designer. That's me.
Also note that I'm not selling Barbie dolls; if you want to use this armor you'll have to buy a Barbie Fashionistas Doll first.
If you've already got a 3D printer and know a doll that needs arming, head on over to The Forge and download a copy of the Athena Makeover Kit:
The spear and aegis should fit most dolls, although the winged boots are designed specifically for Barbie's feet.
While you're poking around The Forge, feel free to download a 3D squirrel or two. Be careful, some of them are armed.
Design and ProtoypingThe inspiration for this armor came, indirectly, from my four-year-old niece. I wanted to print something unique for her next birthday, and so decided to design and engineer a pair of My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons. (Note to self: next Kickstarter should involve My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons.)
But! Moving parts and springs can be tough to do at this level of 3D printing, and after a few test prints I became frustrated and fell back on my usual method for generating new ideas: drinking three lattes and taking a hot shower.
Midway through my fourth latte, the idea to create 3D printed armor for Barbie sprang from my head, fully formed. Highly caffeinated and towel-clad I dashed over to the laptop and ordered a Fashionistas doll.
The design process is straightforward: photograph the doll from multiple angles and then use the photos as reference images in Maya, my 3D modelling package of choice.
The next step is printing a low-resolution test piece to see if it's a good fit on the doll. I'm doing all my prints on a Makerbot Replicator1, which has proven itself to be a reliable, if no longer bleeding-edge 3D printer.
(How about we all just let that last sentence sink in for a minute and realize we live in The Future?)
Finally, after many iterations and tweaks, print the piece at high resolution and call it good. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Barbie takes her fashion seriously, so it's important to get the fit just right. Here's our favorite model amid a pile of not-quite-snug-enough or just-a-bit-too-loose prototypes. Note the boot model in the lower left.
Back this project now over on Kickstarter.
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