After an afternoon of tinkering and weeks of waiting, when my personalised little monster T’Chroll finally arrived I felt more like a proud parent than a deranged doctor. My Little Monster‘s 3D-printed figurine service is an undeniably alluring hook.
However, now that the process is over it’s arguable whether or not it was worth it.
Through the My Little Monster app, users design their own pint-sized creatures based on the simple, humanoid, Domo-Kun-esque template. Monster makers can change colors, features, and add all sorts of accessories. I went with a green fellow with cracked molten skin, pie-eyes, a fake Santa Claus beard, old boots, fingerless gloves, a belt, and a classy fedora. The game offers some preset monsters, and users can purchase more elaborate masks and items, but the true joy comes from experimentation.
Having a more diverse selection of bodies might have been nice, but that would probably complicate the game’s selling point: 3D monster printing. While players can do some little, potty humor-filled, virtual pet tricks with their monster’s amusingly animated 3D avatars, the game never ceases to remind would-be customers that the real goal is to “free” their creations into the real world. This means paying $20 to order a two-inch 3D-printed figurine of their monster.
I had some trouble at first getting my first order to go through. The game would consistently crash on my iPhone 4s and server issues on the developer’s end prevented my iPad Air from uploading my design. However, the issues were eventually sorted out and my T’Chroll eventually did arrive. From the colors to the pose, the figurine captured every detail I added, including some I never even noticed like the strings on the fake beard. The 3D printing process also left the toy with a very coarse outer texture – much like sandpaper. But even when considering how accurate, impressive, and just plain cool this custom figure was, paying $20 and waiting so long for such a tiny trinket that easily fits in my palm just doesn’t feel fully worth it. Again, we don’t know the economic logistics of the service, but an anticlimax is still an anticlimax.
Still, My Little Monster has such an appealing gimmick, especially for kids, that takes great advantage of the inherent awesomeness of 3D printing. Maybe that’s worth feeling a little let down.