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July 24, 2014 AT 8:00 am

Bronies, Little Girls Rejoice: 3-D Pony Printing Is Now Legal #3DxEntertainment #3DThursday #3DPrinting

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There have been lot of announcements about licensing partnerships between 3D printing companies and brands from popular entertainment and toys. This week, a big week with the launch of Comic Con starting today, Hasbro announced a new partnership with Shapeways to allow fan artists to produce and sell designs based on the My Little Ponies line of toys and tv shows etc. They have created a new program SuperFanArt and announced that they will open doors to new participants as the project gains momentum….

All well and good, but it is interesting, as Fast Company notes below, that Hasbro didn’t choose Transformers or GI Joe. They picked My Little Ponies — a massive community, yes, but one that also includes the controversial, infamous Bronies, adult male fans.

Bronies, Little Girls Rejoice: 3-D Pony Printing Is Now Legal, from Fast Company:

…On Monday Toy giant Hasbro–the company behind all the best toys from the 1980s–unveiled a groundbreaking partnership with 3-D printing marketplace Shapeways that allows fan artists to produce and sell designs based on licensed material. For starters, Hasbro and Shapeways aren’t going after the legions of fans who made G.I. Joe or Transformers into Hollywood blockbusters, but instead with the enormous but uncomfortably bro-ish My Little Pony community.

“Hasbro has been incredibly innovative to realize that the existing unmet demand within their fan base can be satisfied with the help of those very same fans,” says Shapeways’ Director of Marketing Carine Carmy. To kick-start the program, Hasbro and Shapeways hand-selected five “SuperFanArt” representatives to produce designs, ranging from a 3-D designer from Seattle to a mechanical engineer from France. Shapeways will open the door to new participants as the project gains momentum.

When asked if there was a sense of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” in Hasbro’s decision to let the My Little Pony fan community– including but certainly not limited to the infamous “Bronies,” adult male fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic–actually play around in the product’s playground without fear of copyright infringement, Carmy concurred. To her, the partnership between Hasbro and Shapeways is an extension of the effect social media has had on brand communication with fans. “Social media was a major catalyst in breaking down the walls between brands and consumers,” says Carmy. “Some brands tried to control the conversation, but eventually yielded to the inevitable. Just as social media opened up the conversation between brands and consumers, 3-D printing opens up product design and development.”…

Read more about the implications of this partnership over at Fast Company.

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