Wayne Losey: Design-your-own 'ModiBots' will revolutionize toys

Wayne Losey: Design-your-own 'ModiBots' will revolutionize toys

PAWTUCKET - Wayne Losey wants to change the way people purchase and play with their toys. With more than three quarters of his new "ModiBot" toy project now funded through pledges, he just might get his wish.

Everyone knows the universal look of a stick figure, says Losey, and his basic idea is that if one strips an action figure down to a similar minimal skeleton, leaving a basic frame and joints for "great poseability" and "physical expressiveness," it will be the basis for a "revolution" in the way toys are delivered to the consumer.

Nearly every toy line one will ever see on the store shelves with "this much construction and this many options," with the exception of Lego, "fails," said Losey, creative mind with Tucker Johnson of Dynamo Development Labs. The toy design and concept studio is based in The Grant building on Pawtucket's Main Street.

"This (ModiBot) is the antithesis of what you would see on the store shelf," said Losey.

Do-it-yourself ModiBot action figures, complete with possible access to more than 400 three-dimensional interlocking printed accessories, allows those who use them the chance to create their own very unique toys, said Losey.

"What you've got is an inspiring tool set that encourages people to create their own fun, hyper-personalized characters and playthings," states the campaign from Dynamo Development Labs. For more on the project, search "ModiBot" at www.kickstarter.com .

Watch the ModiBots in animated action here:

Losey and Tucker tried last year to launch their "Hero Project," an action figure line based on the heroes of world culture, but fell well short of their fund-raising goal of $125,000.

Losey said he learned a lot from the 2012 project, including the idea of having a much smaller goal of $12,000 through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. With nine days to go, the company had received pledges of $10,054 toward its $12,000 goal from 162 backers as of Tuesday. Those who pledge support for the toy project are entitled to various perks, including ModiBot figures of their own.

Losey believes people are embracing the ModiBot idea so strongly because the figures come as "blank" canvasses.

"There's something about it being a blank that helps people sort of project themselves onto it," he said. That idea is consistent with studies that show people prefer superheroes with masks, like Spiderman and Ironman, because they are more easily able to project themselves onto them, he said.

A library of "interesting" and "unconventional" parts from Dynamo Development Labs will continue expanding as the concept grows, said Losey. At each step of the fund-raising process over the past few weeks, his company has unlocked more features and colors. Eventually, if someone wanted to create a "ModiBot" likeness of Spiderman and Batman, they'd be able to using the company's 3D printing capabilities.

The basic "ModiBot Mo" is the first action figure in the Dynamo line of figures, said Losey, but there are others to choose from, among them an upgraded "She-Nobi" heroine and a Bravest Warriors "Chris" figure based on the animated Bravest Warriors web series.

For those who aren't aware of the capabilities of modern 3D printing, said Losey, it essentially allows someone to print three-dimensional items using thin layers of whatever "robust" material one chooses, in Dynamo Development Labs' case, a type of nylon.

The technology, which is 30 years old but is becoming more refined all the time, allows those who use it the ability to create custom pieces at very affordable prices, said Losey. The same items in a mold-based toy-making system would be much more expensive, he said.

An example of an accessory line developed is the Viking set, complete with body armor, belt, axe, sword and helmet, all created for the universal "Mo" figure."

Losey said that he and Johnson took a "huge batch" of ModiBot parts to the San Mateo Maker Faire, where he says children "three deep" sat for hours "mixing and matching parts" to create different figures. It was that crowd scene that let him know just how much potential there is for the ModiBot project if users "dip their toes into the possibilities."

The price for a basic ModiBot figure right now is $15, including shipping, but Losey said the goal is to get that number down to $5 or $10 eventually. There is no maximum age for the toy, he said.

For more on Dynamo Development Labs, visit www.dynamodevlabs.com .