As 3-D printing technology edges steadily towards wider implementation, one industry likely to be disrupted is that of toys. If consumers can simply print out their own dolls, curios and figurines, the thinking goes, then why need they purchase them elsewhere?
Perhaps sensing this eventuality, Hasbro -- the Pawtucket, R.I.-headquartered toy giant -- announced today a groundbreaking partnership with Shapeways, an online 3-D printing marketplace where designers can share and vend their own creations.
Marking what the companies say is the first time that a global brand has opened up its intellectual property to let fans make and sell their own products, Hasbro has granted five artists license to create My Little Pony figurines. The toys will be sold on a co-created site entitled SuperFanArt.
The artists, selected by Hasbro and Shapeways, were given complete creative control (so long as their designs were not “obscene, violent or hateful,” reports The New York Times), and they were also able to set their own prices.
Nineteen total designs are currently available, ranging in price from $24.99 to $99. Each is available for purchase today and will also be on display next month at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
The initiative will roll out with additional artists, products and Hasbro brands -- which include G.I. Joe, Mr. Potato Head and Transformers -- in coming weeks.
More than 900 total fan-created ponies could ultimately exist within the marketplace, Shapeways said in a blog post -- many of which will have been contributed by the “Brony” community, or older male My Little Pony fans.
By choosing to share some of its rights from the outset, Hasbro could theoretically keep closer tabs on the My Little Pony brand as a whole while engaging die-hard fans and generating significant marketing buzz, according to the Times.
“We’ve already seen a passionate My Little Pony following on Shapeways,” said its co-founder and CEO, Peter Weijmarshausen, in a statement, “and are thrilled that Hasbro is opening its doors for the design community to actively work with a global brand.”