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Love you so much I want two of you!

I hope you’ve seen our gift e-VOUCHER,  possibly the easiest way to give your bestie/lover/cousin/father/significant other a unique gift experience – a tiny version of themselves. What’s not to love about someone who loves you so much they want two of you!

All you have to do is purchase a gift e-VOUCHER and a few moments after you complete the checkout process you will receive a number of emails with your gift e-VOUCHER codes. Each code can be redeemed for one Mini Head. You then forward the code to your recipient. The email contains all the instructions they need to get started with ordering their own Mini Head, and they will be able to choose their own hairstyle and colour.  That’s all you have to do. Easy and very, very special.

Every day we are amazed at our customers’ creativity with their personalised mini-figures. If you’ve ever swung by our Facebook page you’ll know that we love to feature some of the amazing images and videos that our cool customers devise and tenderly create. This week we’re loving the photo that a US customer, Ryan Williams of Wilbraham, MA, sent us showing his mini-me out on patrol and packing a serious looking piece of hardware. Check it out here. And if your mini-figures are out and about having adventures, please share them with us!

Next month we’ll be dressing up and having our own adventure when we visit the aptly-named Epic Centre in Lincolnshire for Lincoln Comic-Con 2016. We’re sorting out our ‘epic’ costumes already. We’d love to know if you’re planning to come too!

 

False teeth, bikinis, pills and skin – is there anything that 3D printing technology can’t do?

While we’re beavering away making our delightfully quirky personalised 3D heads for you, our parent company, Elat3d Ltd, continues to work on producing a very different range of products – architectural models and medical models of bones.

The 3D bones we produce provide the medical community with valuable, cost-effective teaching aids and are widely used, while architects rely on our accurate and visually exciting 3D scale models to showcase their designs. Other innovative 3D technologies are growing across the globe, and there’s no doubt that 3D printing is capable of revolutionising our lives in so many ways.  So, what is 3D printing and how does it work? Here comes the science…

3D printing starts with a virtual design of the object, then the 3D object is created by the laying down of successive thin layers of material until the object is completed.  Taking our heads as an example, we start with a set of 2D images -photos – and using digitising software, we turn these into 3D images.

The digital file is then prepared for 3D printing by the software ‘slicing’ the digital object into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. The ‘sliced’ file is uploaded to the 3D printer, which reads every slice, and prints out each layer until the 3D object is finished. There are various types of 3D printers, but they all work in a broadly similar way, with the most common being a 1986 technology called stereolithography (SLA), which uses a UV laser to ‘cure’ the photo-reactive resin that ‘prints’ the object, layer by layer.

Some IT companies, including Microsoft, have already enabled their hardware to perform 3D scanning, making it only a matter of time before even the smartphone in your pocket has an integrated 3D scanner that you could use to digitise your 2D images.

The uses of 3D printing are numerous and range from life-saving to wacky. The medical industry not only uses 3D bones as teaching aids, but patients all over the world already benefit from 3D-printed implants and prosthetics. And bio-printing research aims to combine layers of living cells with a gel medium to build 3D organs and body parts using inkjet techniques. These techniques can save lives and greatly improve quality of life.

NASA 3D prints its rockets’ combustion chamber liners and four squadrons of the RAF’s Tornado GR4 aircraft are already flying with 3D printed components – an innovation that could save £1.2m in maintenance and service costs over the next four years.

Of course, there are numerous applications in manufacturing where rapid manufacturing – such as our Funky3DFaces – enables personalised products to be produced and delivered quickly, while rapid prototyping shortens the time from product design to production – Nike uses 3D printers to create multi-coloured prototypes of its shoes.

At the wackier end of the scale, if you’re pregnant and you’ve had a 4D scan, you can now – at least theoretically – have a 3D custom print of your unborn baby.  Or maybe you’d like to print your own chocolate or cake decorations? Yes – 3D-printed food is now a thing, using sugar and cocoa butter to create sweet treats.

In the meantime, why not settle for the ultimate selfie? Funky3DFaces is at your service…

Give your superhero dad a Father’s Day to remember

Socks? Aftershave? Cordless drill? Up and down the country, thousands of Dads will be hoping for something a little bit different for Father’s Day on June 19. And we think we have the perfect gift – a personalised superhero mini- figure of course!

We think Dads are everyday heroes – they pick us up when we fall, give us hugs when we’re sad, help us with our homework, drive us everywhere, show their sons how to be good men, and their daughters what a good man looks like. And they rescue us when our DIY goes horribly wrong.

Our heroes. They’re always there when we need them. So what could be nicer than showing your Dad that he’s your hero by putting his face on a hero mini-figure?

OK, this will need a bit of planning, but last orders for Father’s Day in the UK is June 1 – outside the UK it’s May 23 – so you have plenty of time to think up a convincing reason why you have to take the two specific photo images needed to make a personalised head. Maybe you’re ‘trying to perfect your photography skills’ and need a willing model?

Then, have fun choosing the brick mini-fig hero that best suits your Dad ready for the arrival of his custom head. Whatever his age, your Dad will be thrilled to know that he’s your hero!

Remember to post photos of your superhero Dad on our Facebook page!

It’s all about the image

At last! Our move to a larger space has finally been completed and we’re enjoying having more room to pack our deliveries and more room for the little guys to move around. And, with that slight distraction out of the way, we’ve been spending some time looking at how we can further improve our service to you.

The process we use to make the heads involves careful hand finishing, and that can’t be rushed because keeping to this high standard is as important to us as it is to you, but the team has found ways to streamline other parts of the process. This means that we’ve cut the time from acceptance of your order to delivery down to between two and four weeks. We feel great about this, and we know you’ll appreciate it too.

However, we do still receive quite a few orders with images that simply won’t work with the conversion software, and when this happens it does inevitably slow down the process. Often, it’s because no flash has been used and there are shadows on the image. This part is up to you, so to make things easier, we’ve put an explanatory video on the website that shows exactly how to take photos that we can convert to 3D images – and there are print guidelines too.

Remember – it’s important that images should be clear, well lit and without shadows. You will need to use a flash. Also, a selfie is really not going to hack it – plan the shot, the background and the lighting beforehand and use a self-timer if there’s no-one around to take the photo for you.

We want to deliver your personalised mini-fig head to you asap, so please give yourselves a ‘head’ start. (Sorry – couldn’t resist that one!)

Geek alert!

We have to admit that going to our first Comic Con last year was mind blowing, so it’s no wonder we’re already getting excited about being part of Geeks Lincoln Comic Con in July.

Tickets for the event are selling fast and over a thousand people have already signed up to enjoy the retro gaming, cosplay, stage shows and special guests – all under wraps so far. I’ll be getting out my special comic com outfit again and we’ll be planning a great display of our mini-figs and taking orders on the spot. It’s a tremendous, fun event and I’m looking forward to being part of it.

Meanwhile, we’re celebrating the arrival of an intern who’s helping us to expand the options available for our customers at Funky3DFaces. John, a graduate from the University of Lincoln, joined the team a week ago and is already making a difference. One of the things he’s currently working on is broadening the choices customers can make for their personalised head, for example, introducing a wider range of hairstyles. Watch out for new options as they’re added to the website – and remember to book your tickets for Geeks Lincoln Comic Con – we’ll see you there

We do it differently – at the 2016 Innovation Conference

Fresh from our success at the recent Lincolnshire Business Expo, we gathered up our camera kit and took the little guys to the Doing it Differently Innovation Conference at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) last Thursday.

The Doing it Differently Innovation Conference first appeared in 2015 and was set up to provide Lincolnshire businesses with opportunities to network, build business skills and access business support. Being sociable guys, we love to mix and mingle with other businesses, especially as we get to show off our very own innovative Funky3DFaces and spread the fun!

There were around 200 businesses represented at the conference and we had a great time speaking to most of them, as well as capturing their images with our portable kit so they could order their very own 3D heads on the spot!

The event also had some top speakers, including Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer, who talked about how to envision the HR boardfull potential of technology, and Ben Mee, author of the best seller We Bought a Zoo, later made into a successful Hollywood film.

We’re always keen to show off how our personalised mini-figures can be used by local businesses, and one really good idea we came across recently was from local accountants Russell Payne & Co. Russell and his team put together a fun ‘attitude’ board to inspire and motivate themselves every day and we displayed it on our Expo stand earlier this year.

The idea was picked up by local HR consultant Neil Buck, who snapped the photo you can see in this post and was wowed by the ingenuity behind the idea.

 

 

 

It’s official! We’re shaking up the toy industry!

Chris left the office behind recently to be interviewed live on the on the top US TV channel Fox Business Network by business broadcast legend Maria Bartiromo. He travelled to FBN’s London studio to be interviewed by Maria on the network’s highly regarded Mornings with Maria show.  Famous for her business journalism and interviews with titans of industry, Maria introduced Chris as the man behind the company that was ‘shaking up the toy industry’.

‘It was an interesting experience to be on a live link with the US show,’ said Chris. ‘The studio in London had a great backdrop of Westminster that viewers could see behind me, but the only thing in front of me was a camera, so it felt slightly weird to be alone and waiting for the red light to signal we were live.

‘I could hear Maria introduce Funky3DFaces as the company that could shake up the toy industry – which was amazing – and then we went straight into the interview. We talked about the idea behind the business and how the idea had taken off. It was great and I really enjoyed the whole thing.’

Funky3DFaces has enjoyed media attention from all parts of the globe since its launch late last year, and you can read all about it in an earlier blog post.

Meanwhile you can watch Chris in his Fox Business Network interview with Maria Bartiromo – and see her team showing off their own personalised mini-figures – here. Alternatively, go over to our Facebook page to view it and also catch up with our latest events and adventures.

We were at the centre of the whirlwind – and we loved it!

From the Daily Mail to The Nerdist and Pop Sugar, from Mashable and Fox Today to The Drum, our funky personalised 3D heads for mini-figs started to blaze a trail around the world within hours of setting up our original shop on Etsy. (All orders should come via our website now).

Wow! Although we love our little guys to bits and think they are the coolest and most unique personalised gifts ever, even we were astounded to see how quickly the media picked up on them earlier this year. In December 2015 we were not even widely known within our home town in Lincolnshire, but less than four weeks later we were looking at a list of media mentions that stretched across the globe.  It was media coverage that most small businesses would give their right arm for, and we hadn’t even seen it coming.

At first, it was hard to believe that we were featuring online and in mainstream media channels in the US, Japan, India, and Europe as well as the UK. Highlights for us were stories in The Huffington Post, The Nerdist, Mashable, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and I can’t even find the words to say how thrilled I was to see our 3D heads featured on NBC’s Today Programme and Fox TV! One of my earlier blog posts features a photo of some of the US presenters’ personalised mini-figs.

It really showed us the power of the internet and how fast it moves when it spots a truly innovative idea. We could never have dreamed of the response we experienced when, pretty much overnight, Funky3DFaces went viral. It really was a whirlwind experience – and I’m glad to say that our media profile is still doing well, thanks in part to the tremendous support we’ve had from you – our followers on social media.

We’d like to say a big ‘thanks’ for your support and hope you’ll continue to post fun photos of your own mini-fig, wherever you are in the world.

 

We take the little guys out for the day

Last week we took time out of the office to show off our little guys at the first Lincolnshire Business Expo.

The Lincolnshire Business Expo is one of the big calendar events for the business community across Lincolnshire, so we thought it was the perfect place to meet other businesses and show them what we do.

Around 500 delegates attended and I swear that most of them found time to come and talk to us, because we had a steady stream of people stopping by to check us out all day. We had a complete display of mini-figures on hand so, among the accountants, banks, PR companies, recruitment agencies, hotels and software businesses, we really stood out from the crowd.

We also set up a mini-station to scan images for people who wanted to kick off the process of making their own 3D head image right there and then, so I got busy with the camera. People were amazed at how quick and easy it was to capture the right sort of images, and we were able to show them what the 3D image looked like on an iPad.

Quite a few of those who chatted to us had already seen us on Twitter or in the media and were excited to be able to see and hold the mini-figures. We also attracted lots of attention from the other businesses and had some interesting conversations. It was great to get out of the office for once, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the day job!

 

 

 

 

We’ve stepped up a gear – thanks to some crazy global media!

We’ve now been featured on Fox and the NBC Today programme and, in a case of spectacularly good timing, it was International Lego Day last week. We are still working our way through hundreds of orders each day – this is what it must be like to be caught in a massive twister!

Having around 300 individual media hits, nearly 3,000 Tweets and many thousands of page views on our website in a short space of time has been totally mind blowing. Conversations about the 3D heads have popped up in all sorts of unlikely places and I’ve been thrilled to see that people who’ve already got their 3D heads are posting to Instagram and Twitter. Some of these mini-me’s are taking some wild journeys, if the photos are anything to go by. I’m loving seeing their adventures!

In order to meet the massive demand, this week I set out to find bigger premises for our big, beautiful production 3D image printer and the four new employees who’ll soon be helping us shorten our production and dispatch times. Lincoln’s not a big city, so it wasn’t long before I found the space I was looking for. Best of all, it’s not that far from the mothership. Now all I have to do is meticulously plan the move day. It’ll mean taking the printer out for a day, but the extra staff will more than make up the time, so no worries that deliveries will be held up, which is the most important thing – we know you can’t wait to get your hands on your very own 3D mini-figure head!