Second-life statues? Company transforms your characters into figurines


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

A parcel arrived here in the newsroom the other day and inside of it was a chalk-colored skull outfitted with a rocket launcher (the weapon jutted out of the sides of the head like antlers), a metal statue of a demon-child picking its nose and a small, whirling re-creation of a solar-system model from centuries ago.

Yes, we get very interesting mail here.

This particular box came all the way from the Netherlands and an upstart company called Shapeways. I got a follow-up phone call from the president of the company, Peter Weijmarhausen, who said the company is actually located in a more digital landscape. ‘We ship worldwide, and we have a truly global audience,’ Weijmarhausen said. ‘When people ask where we are based, I say on the internet. You can order in United States, Mexico, Japan -- we ship worldwide. and our shipping is included in the price.’


Ah, but the price of what? It turns out that Shapeways takes your 3-D computer-generated models and turns them into objects that you can hold in your hand or perch on your desk. (They also have templates on the site for those of us who don’t know how to make 3-D models on a computer.) That’s pretty cool, I would imagine, for artists, gamers and second-life fans who long to see their fav characters standing next to their keyboard. How do they look? Well, I have to say, the plastic ones they sent me weren’t that impressive; the solar system model looked flimsy, and it’s components were bowed out alignment; the missile-firing skull, to my eye, looked like a weird chunk of soap. But the stainless-steel stuff, which included assorted shapes and characters, was absolutely cool, especially the puckish nose-picker, above, who caught the eye of my co-workers. I was sad to see him go by back in the box for the return trip to the Netherlands (yes, the box of objects was a loaner, not a gift).

The company has been making the metal models -- through a process called Stainless Steel Printing -- for just a month or so. Weijmarhausen said he hopes that, as demand grows, precious metals will be added to the menu. You can go to Shapeways’ website and learn more about all this -- but, just so you know, the stuff ain’t cheap. With prices for small statuettes running $100 or more, it’s not exactly the most practical way to put together your next chess set. Weijmarhausen, though, said it’s about tailor-made memories, and fans do love those. ‘The core promise of Shapeways is we enable people to make whatever they want. Why go to the shops and buy something that someone else has designed?’

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, maybe the Hero Complex needs to come up with a trophy to hand out for fanboy excellence. ...

-- Geoff Boucher


Time travel posters with a great retro vibe

‘Battlestar’ propaganda posters, winning hearts and minds

‘Stargate’ coasters, pretty cool


A sweet R2-D2 aquarium and 8 other geek gifts

For your inner Boy Wonder: Top 10 vintage Batman toys

Beam up: It’s the new ‘Star Trek’ toys

Auction treasure: ‘Forbidden Planet’ saucer rediscovered