Toymaker launches 3D-printed disabled doll range

A British toymaker will this week launch a range of dolls with hearing aids and facial birthmarks in response to a social media campaign aimed at increasing toy diversity.

London-based 3D toy and games manufacturer MakieLab will add walking canes, glasses, birthmarks and hearing aids to their made-to-order doll service by Friday. Additional features are already in the works, including wheelchairs and leg splints, and will roll out in the next 3-4 weeks.

The company was contacted earlier this month by the "Toy Like Me" campaign, which has been encouraging parents of disabled children to Tweet and send Facebook messages to companies like Hasbro, Lego and Mattel, in an effort to create more inclusive toy lines.


Courtesy MakieLab

"If toys are designed to educate us about the worldaround us, shouldn't their makers be working to nurture disabled kids'self-confidence rather than impose unrealistic ideals they cannot aspire to?,"a Facebook post on the Toy Like Me page said.

Posts have asked for dolls with prosthetic limbs, sticks and seeing eye-dogs for the blind, and walking frames.

Campaign organizers asked MakieLab if it could add disability-associated accessories to its customized dolls known as "Makies."

MakiesLab Founder Alice Taylor told CNBC on Monday that adding the new products was a natural move for the company, which had already been considering expanding their range in ways that spoke to children with disabilities.

Customers frequently make requests for additions to the range on the Makies site, Taylor explained, but the Toy Like Me campaign confirmed demand for disability-associated features and accessories.

"And as we a 3D-printer of toys, we were able to respond quickly," she told CNBC during a phone interview.


Courtesy MakieLab

The company has received hundreds of emails since they announced the line last week. Taylor said the facial birthmark has been the most requested feature so far.

MakieLab began selling custom dolls in 2013, two years after launching in East London. The new dolls will sell at the same price as other Makies models at £69 ($108).

The company is encouraging other manufacturers to participate in the Toy Like Me drive, and say it does not plan to hog the market.

"If we can do it, the big companies can do it too," Taylor said. "We don't want kids to be left out and we're happy to be part of it."

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