It’s been a while since my daughter’s Makie Doll arrived with us now, but she’s still managed to hold her spot on the “toys I must play with” list, easily supplanting Barbie and her vacuous friends. Makies, you may remember, are fully posable, 10 inch, fashion dolls that you design the facials features of and then have custom 3D-printed — making each one unique. Part of their appeal is the rooted in the maker/hacker culture, with MakieLab and their customers making and sharing clothes and accessories for the dolls — from little knitted beanies to cut-and-sew bags and dresses to 3D files for shoes and glasses that you can print at home.
MakieLab have always been about the convergence of the digital and real world, and so it’s no surprise that they’ve released two new apps to start to merge the two worlds together. Makies FabLab and Makies Fashion share certain elements, but approach them in different ways, using different models.
Fablab is free to download and follows an RPG style of gaming where you build up experience points from completing tasks and fulfilling orders from the stars of MakieLab, Curie, Ada, Tesla and Hopper. You might receive an order for a pair of jeans — which need Denim and a Zip. To make the Denim you have to grow a Cotton plant in your plant pot, then harvest the cotton and get your “Knit-Wit” to weave it into Denim for you. You also have to grow a rubber plant and send the resulting material to your “Makiebot” to 3D print the zip. Finally you send the Denim and Zip to your “Bot-A-Tron” to make the Jeans and complete the order, gaining you more coins and experience or skills which you can use to upgrade your machines, buy more clothing patterns, bigger/faster/more machines and raw materials or cash in to speed up the growing/weaving/stitching times.
There is a well stocked shop that offers all kind of upgrades for you FabLab, including animals, pots, machines, shelves and textures and colors. The animals (bunnies, sheep and goats) are used to make different wools. You have to feed the bunny lettuce, watch its fur grow, then shear it to make Angora wool! Pots come in different sizes, allowing you to grow more stuff. Machine upgrades allow you to make more things such as shoes and glasses and even remove colours and patterns from clothes you’ve already made. More shelves means more machines and that means more stock, and I guess you can never have enough colour and pattern options. Be warned though, some items in the shop can simply be brought with your accrued coins but others require real-world money via in-app purchases.
That’s only one part of the app though — you can also customise your Makie (using the same editor engine as the website) and actually buy it via a direct link to the website that automatically brings in your customisations. You can also dress him or her in the outfits you’ve unlocked (and made) in the main game and design them yourself from the colours and patterns available. The patterns are super simple to create, and you can get some really great effects from just a few options — back and foreground colours together with a design, which can then be scaled, rotated, repeated and mirrored until you’re happy, before being sent to the “Little Printer” and made ready to wear.
There is also a “Photo Studio” where you can snap a picture of you Makie in their fab outfit and share it online with the community, and view and rate other people’s creations, plus a little mini-game to play for more XP.
The Fashion app takes this last part of the FabLab and makes it the sole focus of the app. Instead of earning the outfits though experience in a free app, you pay £1.99 ($2.99) upfront and then you can just create as many outfits as you like for your doll. All of the various outfits, accessories, colours and patterns from the FabLab are instantly available to you, and you get two of everything to design and re-design as many times as you like. There’s no way to buy the doll (although you can still customise the face), no XP to gain, no orders to fulfill, no sheep to shear, just fashion, fashion, fashion.
The Photo Studio from the FabLab becomes a cat-walk fashion show where your Makie struts their stuff to a disco-pop soundtrack, striking poses, and waiting for you to snap a photo of them. The pictures are simply saved to your camera roll for you share your own way via your social media network of choice later.
Both apps are good at what they do — FabLab has as kind of Minecraft appeal to it with its planting, growing, harvesting, making, learning approach, whereas Fashion is more of a quick-hit of creative fun. It’s interesting to see two different approaches to essentially the same thing, from the same company, going head to head. I wonder which one will prove to be the more successful option? The big thing that’s missing from both the apps is the ability to actually buy the outfits you design, but I’ve been told that this feature will be coming soon as MakieLab see it as a key component of their goal of merging the digital and real worlds.
Thanks to Jen @ MakieLab for the promo code for Makies Fashion, and we have a spare one for one lucky reader. Just leave a comment to below before the 1st November to be in with a chance of grabbing it.