19 Oct 2015

Big changes over at Makie Labs!

Its been a short while since my last Makie ramble right? heheh.
Anyway, since then I now have 20 of the little nylon people, and husband has aquired a few of his own as well.

His latest one arrived today, but she's different so that's why i'm blogging.

See, a month or so ago Makie Labs decided to make some changes. The biggest complaint they were getting about their dolls was price point, £69 was, many parents felt, a bit steep for a doll. Sadly, 3d printing technology simply hasn't dropped in price as rapidly as anyone had hoped, the nylon used to print the Makies costs according to instagram around $90 a kg! add to that hand assembly, time rented on an industrial printer and the hand sewn clothing etc, you can see why the price has remained high for so long.
So the lab decided they had to find an alternative solution to the price conundrum, and that solution was to change what they made the bodies from.
Plastic is cheap, nylon is expensive so it made sense to look into injection moulded bodies as all the bodies are identical anyway.

The idea was they'd still print the faces, as those were the selling point, but the bodies would now be injection moulded and that drove the cost down to a still costly but less agonising £49:99 (considering Monster High dolls currently cost between £20 - 30 each in the UK, that's not a huge price tag for a custom made doll right?)

Anyway, a few other changes had to happen as well. Because the bodies were being made to match the head dye, some mismatch would of course be inevitable. Plastic bodies would allow better articulation to be implimented and more durability. And finally, because the undyed white nylon Makies sold so rarely, it wasn't cost effective to produce white plastic bodies so white was discontinued.

Luckily those of us in the facebook fan group were prewarned, but for some reason the lab decided against annoucing this big news to the general public until after it was already done. I'm still not certain I agree with that decision, it felt a little unfair. As it was though, just telling the few of us on the facebook group was enough to trigger chaotic panic buying which is perhaps what they were trying to avoid by not telling everyone.

I myself bought 5 white Makies, 4 to dye because injection moulded plastic doesn't really take dye while 3d printed nylon dyes beautifully. Others went a little mad because they hated the idea of mismatching bodies and heads. Many wanted all their Makies to "match" one another.

Basically, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from all of us ok? I hate change, and i'm not alone.

But change is inevitable and so a few weeks ago these new IM bodies started to ship out. I was dubious certainly, but also very curious about how they'd look, how they'd feel and whether they would be a tolerable change or a deal breaker for me.

Husband took the plunge and ordered his girl, and we waited... and waited. For some reason despite no longer having to print bodies, the shipping is taking a little longer than usual. Ada dispatched 16 days after she was ordered, on a friday... which meant we had to wait a whole weekend to meet her. Grrrr.

She finally arrived this morning.

So what hasn't changed? the outfits are still made of that odd stretchy fabric. They still come in cardboard tubes tied onto a backing card with coloured ribbon, they still come with your choice of eye colour and wig.

This girl came with a pair of 3d printed Mary Janes instead of the usual black slip ons. Cute. I like when they change up the default shoes.

I also love that Makies all come waving hello when you open the tube, I think that's adorable.

Anyway, Ada came with a default faceup that make her look a little flushed. Someone went a bit ott with the blusher huh? thankfully it's not sealed so just wipes off with a damp cloth.

But first, let's look at that new body!

First impressions? It's quite shiny. It looks even shinier in photos.
The colour match for this strawberry milk isn't too bad though, it's a very pink tone irl and I wonder how they'll deal with the variation issues. The IM bodies will be fairly consistant, but the hand dyed dolls always had a lot of variation in their colouring. Some of my strawberry girls are more pink like this, some are more pale, one of my strawberry boys is almost greyish yellow he's so pale! Will they be working on more consistant dye batches to prevent too much mismatch?

I hope so because seriously mismatching head and body would bother me. thankfully the 3dp nylon takes chalk pastel really well so you could always colour it up to match better.

So here's Ada alongside my Strawberry fully 3d printed Ayla. You can see how much pinker the new strawberry body and head are. Ayla's really pale.

The two bodies are pretty similar in shape. Torso on the IM body looks a little more defined but that's down to the way the light bounces off the material. The limbs are a little thinner, particularly around the knee and elbow joints which is to allow more movement in the limbs.

Gone is the beautiful wood grain effect, which is a real shame. Though the new plastic body feels heavier than the 3dp and the plastic feels decent quality. The seams are noticable but that's inevitable, and one hand is a bit messy with some raggedy edges that need cleaning up.

The new hands are a different shape to the old ones. The fingers are closer together, less pointy and the thumb is closer in as well. Because it's plastic, there's also a little give in the fingers so you can get gloves onto them which you can't really do with the old 3dp hands because of the totally immovable thumb.

The hands and feet still pop off like the old bodies, however the parts aren't compatable between the two bodies. The ball joint on the new body seems to be slightly smaller, so the 3dp limbs flop uselessly and the plastic doesn't really fit the 3dp ball.

The new feet have a lot more detail in them. They have indivdually moulded toe nails! and more defined toes.
They're the same size as the old feet though, so older slip on Makie shoes still fit and Ken shoes still go on just fine.
The slot on 3dp shoes don't fit, for the same reason the feet and hands don't. The ball joint is smaller.

The feet come off a bit too easily, I kept accidently detatching them as I dressed the doll which is a bit annoying. They stay on fine once the doll is dressed though, but even so... The hands seemed to go on a bit tighter.

The IM bodies feature a new elbow joint that looks more like the original Makie body joint (a hinge rather than a ball). This hinge actually rotates within the upper arm segment as well allowing for a very wide range of quite realistic movement.

The knees are simple back/forward ball sockets like the old bodies, but as knees only really GO that way, it makes sense. The upper calf of the new legs is slimmed down to allow the leg to bend a little closer to the body though, which is nice.

The new refined arm joints mean Makies can now fold their hands over one another.

And touch their face properly.

They can do the splits and splay their legs right out to the sides, something the 3dp body really couldn't manage.

All in all, the new body motion is far more fluid looking and realistic. Knees bend more, arms bend more, everything just has that little bit more range of motion and all the joints feel robust. With the old 3dp body I always feared cracking the joints if I pressed too hard, in fact in one doll I DID crack her shoulder joint by forcing it too much in a direction it didn't want to go. The plastic body won't suffer that same sort of damage, as the plastic is slightly flexible and more forgiving of force being applied. It's more likely the shoulder or knee joint will pop OUT than crack or shatter. in terms of durability and posability, the new body really does win hands down.

While the original 3dp body had a back plate and hollow inside (leftover from the original idea of the dolls containing electronics and battery packs) the new bodies do away with this historical remnant and  instead have a weird metal screw in their butts.
I'm not totally sure WHY there's a screw there, it looks like the torso itself actually comes apart and is moulded in two sections that are screwed together rather than glued or however it is other companies stick their plastic together.
I've never really seen this sort of thing before except on some high end action figures and strung dolls.
I wonder if you could stick a magnet or something into the hole to attach a tail or something heheh.

The seam where the two halves of the torso go together is quite noticable, I feel that could bother some people. I don't mind seams, i'm used to them along with visible joints but I know some collectors hate big ugly lines. While I feel the seam lines on the arms and legs could be sanded to be less obvious, this seam line is too big to do anything to disguise.

The neck attachment on the new dolls is quite different as well.

The old heads used a flattened sort of peg that was rather shallow and in Ayla's case, had a tendency to pop out of the neck joint (I think hers is slightly TOO shallow, she's the only one of my Makies who's head likes to pop off so easily). The new heads have a narrower, longer peg that's made of IM plastic rather than printed as part of the head piece.

This means that while they CAN fit on one another's bodies, it's not a great fit. Ayla's head fit the IM body prettty tightly but Ada's head flopped weakly on the 3dp body. The socket for the neck is a little too wide for the narrower head peg I think.

Even on her IM body, Ada's head is a bit more easily moved about than i'm used to with Makies. The rounded peg means she can move her head a little easier, tilt it a little more to one side and so forth but at the same time it feels less solidly attached. Hmmm.

What I wasn't expecting here was a big change to the HEADS of the new dolls.

While the face is still 3d printed, the scalp piece is IM plastic. Not only is it IM plastic, it comes in two pieces!

The outer scalp, which the wig is glued to pops off. The key shaped peg slots neatly into the key hole of the inner scalp which makes changing wigs a lot easier.

The inner scalp piece is a bit difficult to remove, as it's thick, hard plastic it doesn't have the same give as the old thinner 3d printed nylon scalp so there's no squeeze and unclip here, you have to apply a little more force to encourage the tabs out of the slots.
Now, for most people that wouldn't be a problem as most kids won't want to take the inner scalp off and play with the eyes anyway right? But in order to do a faceup or change the eyes this piece HAS to be removed.

Inside the head there's more changes. the eye mechanism seems to be set a little futher into the head and there's this bizarre thin T shaped piece holding the eye mech in.
It's printed and attached to the top prong holding the mechanism in place. What... IS it?
Is it left over packaging? is it to stop you removing the eye mech? I don't quite understand it.

It means the mechanism piece can't come off without breaking the T. You can loosen the mech and awkwardly pry the eyes off, but it's not an easy thing to do. I can't help but feel that thing needs to be snapped off, I don't know if i'm supposed to or not though.

Seriously, what purpose does this piece serve? and how on earth did they get the eye mech ON in the first place? the T part is too wide for the rectangular socket so even tilting the mech sideways it won't go over that thing. It's also really really thin so liable to be very easy to break.

I decided to leave it alone just in case, even though i'm pretty sure it serves zero purpose other than to stop you taking the whole eye mech out (or turning it around) i'm not willing to break Husband's doll heh.

Thankfully I managed to get her eyes off the mech so I could do her faceup, seal her, then put them back in. But it was awkward and annoying.

I sprayed her whole body with matte seal in the hope it might dull the shine too. It didn't really. There's still quite an obvious material difference between face and the rest of the doll, it's not too bad when she's dressed but nude it's really obvious she's a bit of a frankendolly.

So what are my final thoughts? On one hand, the new body has a lot of positives. It's more posable, it's more robust, it's easier to get clothing onto as it's smooth and doesn't snag delicate fabrics. But at the same time i'm disappointed to lose the beautiful organic feeling textured body with those rings that felt and looked like wood or bone or stone. There was something wonderfully tactile and natural feeling about the 3d printed bodies that made them feel so different to anything else on the market.
It made them special.

That said, the new price tag makes Makies far more affordable, they're easier to dress and they still have amazing unique faces. The new scalp system makes changing wigs super easy and quick too, though switching eyes is a bit more of a chore.

The colour match for the strawberry milk tone is pretty close to my eye, particularly if you're used to normal playline dolls where there's usually a slight variation between the vinyl head and hard plastic body.
I'm not however sure that the match is as good for the other two skin tones, pictures i've seen of the darkest tone (Cocoa) for instance aren't very promising. Time will tell if they can sort that out.

So, are the new bodies a deal breaker for me? No, not really. The bit that always appealed most to me was the unique faces and that's still here. Third party wigs and eyes should still be usable, they still fit the same clothing and shoes and the Lab has claimed they'll be doing more affordable hand and shoe packs some time in the future. I look forward to that.

I will miss the tactile nature of the 3d printed bodies, and I lament and pine for the white dyable bodies that really brought out a creative side in people. I loved the rainbow coloured Makies, and i'm disappointed I took the dying plunge so late in the game so only managed a meagre 4 before they were discontinued.

There's hope that the lab will offer 3dp bodies again some time in the future. Even if they come only in white and are a higher price, it would be lovely to have that option again. I still lust after an apple green Makie *sniffle* and... and a black one would be so cool... and an orange one and... and...



  1. A very good and informative review - thanks for this! Despite the improved flexibility I am still not convinced, although I can see many of the positives as you outlined. I don't think I will be adding any more to my family - unless I can get a white 3dp one to dye at some stage...here's hoping they will bring back that option one day.

  2. I'd been wondering what the new bodies would be like, and you've answered most of the questions I had - thank you! :)

    I still regret giving away my old Makie a little, but seeing the posing abilities of the new body, I'm less concerned about the quality of the new ones in case I decide to pick up a new one than I had been.

  3. This is the first I've seen of the new body, and it was a great review. I got a head's up from another doll blogger about the new body, so I did order one with the nylon body before those went away. I might be interested in getting another, although like Serenata, I'm not sure. I do have one created on the Makie site, so maybe someday.

  4. Grrr. Forgot to say that one version of the Jun Planning/Groove Pullip and J-Doll body has three screws in the back. I think it's body number 3. I don't know if they are what you would consider high end.

  5. ur colored makies are SUPER CUTE!!! thanks for the info about the new bodies :D

  6. ur colored makies are SUPER CUTE!!! thanks for the info about the new bodies :D