3D-Printed Armor Lets Your Barbie Slay Dragons in Grand Medieval Style
Entrepreneur Barbie may have rubbed me the wrong way, but thanks to what has now become my favorite Kickstarter campaign of all time, kids everywhere can now turn their problematic Barbie dolls into badass dragon slayers. Created by designer Jim Rodda, the “Faire Play” battle set lets you 3D print awesome suits of armor in three different designs to make sure your doll has the proper protection when she ventures out onto the battlefield. Now there’s a Barbie makeover I can get behind!
Rodda launched the Faire Play Kickstarter campaign back in the spring; happily, he raised $6,000 by the time it wrapped up on April 11, $1,000 more than his original target. Now the plans for the sets are available for $29.99 per download on his website. All you need to make them a reality is access to a 3D printer, so hie thee to Makexyz.com to find one near you. Also, the Kickstarter campaign may have had the best video of any Kickstarter campaign in the history of the universe. Unlike many, it was short and sweet, and no one spoke throughout the entire thing. Instead... well, maybe you'd better just watch it:
When an image of the armor set hit reddit a few days ago, Rodda himself found out and put in an appearance in the thread. Why Barbie? “The original idea,” he wrote, “was to make spring-loaded My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons. I had some trouble engineering the spring so I gave it up after a few prototypes.” He continued, “By that point my mind was already in the little-girl-targeted toy zone, and Barbie was the next platform that came to mind.” Frankly, I can’t think of a better “girl’s toy” to give a warrior makeover than Barbie, so well done there. And hoorah for not making the armor pink, while we're at it.
Thankfully, too, the Faire Play set doesn’t suffer from the same problems a lot of female armor in, say, video games does. Becky Chambers wrote about the issue far better than I ever could a few years ago at The Mary Sue, but here's the short version of her excellent article: What you’ll often find in game worlds is that while the armor for female characters has the same stats as the armor for their male counterparts, the women’s armor will consist of a metal bra and not much else. Riddle me this: How on earth is a metal bra going to protect you from a battle ax to the belly? Sure, we can suspend our disbelief and whatnot — but if we’re doing that, then the dudes should be running around in metal boxers to even the playing field, rather than the chain mail and full plated armor they usually get.
No. Not genius. This, in fact, is the opposite of genius.
Faire Play’s armor, though, is more of the Brienne of Tarth variety. The Athena design dresses her up as Perseus with a toga (full length, happily) and a shield emblazoned with Medusa; the Field Plate Armor set gives her full plate armor, complete with helmet and shield; and the Parade Armor kit decks her out in head-to-toe golden armor with a fabulous winged helmet. All three sets also include a sword, because what good would all that armor be if you didn’t have a weapon with which to fight back?
“The fashion-obsessed part of Barbie’s personality pervades the collective consciousness,” Rodda said about the project according to Time. “I think Entrepreneur Barbie’s a step in the right direction, but ‘Babs’ is still carrying a lot of cultural baggage from the last 25 years. People are still bringing up 1992’s ‘Math class is tough!’ debacle, even though Mattel released Computer Engineer Barbie in 2010 and Mars Explorer Barbie in 2013.” He also notes that he helps the Faire Play set will encourage girls to learn about 3D printing and boost interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math): “Maybe she grows up to be the one that invents the solution to climate change, or helps get humans to Mars, or becomes the next Neil deGrasse Tyson and evangelizes a love of science for another generation.” Hear, hear!