I'm Now a Star Wars Action Figure, and I Couldn't Be Happier

James Bricknell Senior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
Expertise 3D printers, maker tools such as Cricut style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, traditional paper printers Credentials
  • 6 years working professionally in the 3D printing space / 4 years testing consumer electronics for large websites.
James Bricknell
4 min read
An action figure in an orange jumpsuit with a 3D-printed head
James Bricknell / CNET

What's happening

Hasbro is releasing the Selfie Series, a collection of action figures that have your face 3D-printed onto them. They will launch on Sept. 30 and cost $80.

Why it matters

Personalized products like this are the next big step in gifting and something the 3D printing industry is uniquely qualified to help make a reality.

"I'm an action figure!" Hercules says incredulously to the giant form of his father Zeus in the Disney movie of the same name. That's what runs through my head every time I see this six-inch figure on my desk. 

Like most Star Wars action figures made by Hasbro, this one is well-detailed. The jumpsuit of the X-wing pilot looks worn, while the chest plate looks suitable "techie" and there are way more points of articulation than any of my action figures from when I was a boy. Altogether it's a pretty decent-looking model that would be fine for just about anyone. Except this isn't for anyone. It's just for me. Because it has my face and my stupid grin, and it is glorious. 

On July 13, Hasbro announced a partnership with leading 3D printing company Formlabs to create a set of toys called the Selfie Series. Formlabs uses its 3D printing knowledge to replicate your head, 3D print it, then put it on one of Hasbro's many action figures and send you the result. 

The writer's face taken from five different angles
James Bricknell / CNET

The process I went through was fairly simple, though I didn't get to use the app that's been built for consumers to use. You have to take five pictures of the front of your face -- the back is pre-generated to fit the hair -- and send it off to Formlabs. They then use some 3D wizardry to take your features and make them 3D.

Once you have the pictures taken, you get to select your hair from a list of predetermined choices -- I went with none, as that's the closest to my balding head -- as well as any facial hair or glasses that you want, and you're done. All that's left is for you to choose what action figure you want your head to be on. 

A happy 3D-printed head on an X-wing pilot body
James Bricknell / CNET

There were plenty of figures I could have chosen, from the X-wing pilot I went with through to Marvel heroes, Power Rangers and even Ghostbusters. There are both male- and female-presenting models to give as many people as possible the chance to own themselves. I ended up going with an X-wing pilot because I remember playing with them as a child and I wanted that nostalgia hit. I nearly went with a Ghostbuster for that reason too, but ultimately I'm happy with my choice.

If I'm being objective, which is almost impossible because this thing is cool as hell, then the 3D modeling on the face is not perfect. Photogrammetry is the art of turning 2D data into 3D data, and the more data points -- in the form of images -- you can give it the better it will be. The five images that Formlabs uses offer the barest bones of 3D data, but it's enough to show clearly defined areas on something this small. Formlabs and Hasbro only keep that data for 60 days too, just long enough to replace a toy if needed. It's good to know that they're thinking about my data and what it could be used for.

A woman holding tiny 3D-printed heads near some 3D printers

Though the model isn't exact, you can see that it is supposed to be me. It has my deep brow ridges, my nose, my giant ears and the silly grin that I can't seem to get rid of. In the future, I would love to see this technology advance, perhaps using a company like Qlone, a 3D scanning app that excels at photogrammetry, to make the details even better. For now, though, the details are still a little rough.

It isn't cheap either; each six-inch model costs $80 and is currently only available in the US so it is definitely a niche product. This is not a little gift, but something to buy a fan of whichever model you're going for. No word if they plan to extend this series to other countries just yet, but I imagine it will depend on the success of this first run.

An action figure with the writer's ruggedly handsome face in the tall grass
James Bricknell / CNET

Of course, none of the complaints I've just mentioned really matter. Could the modeling be better? Maybe, but I just don't care. I am holding in my hand a miniature version of me dressed as an X-wing pilot. It doesn't matter that it doesn't look exactly like me; it's enough to fill with me glee every single time I touch it. In a world that can often feel stressful and overwhelming, being able to find unfettered joy in something so small is a gift that will keep on giving.
That's what Hasbro is banking on too. They are looking for those of us who long for a chance to make our childhood dreams come true. I am completely sold on this as a project (can you tell?), and I'm likely going to end up getting several more in the next few years. Now, who wants to set up a trench run down the Death Star? You be the TIE fighter pilot and I'll be the scrappy older pilot who seems inexplicably happy to be facing the galactic empire in battle.