PieceMaker Next Pilot ToysRus

ToysRus PieceMaker Won The West…Again?

Two Locations For Some 3d Printing ToysRus PieceMaker Action

ToysRus are putting The PieceMaker Factory™ into their stores. It won’t be producing the famous Colt PeaceMaker, famed to be the “The gun that won the West.” (At least not in anything else but plastic.) I would think ToysRus hope that this 3d Printing initiative will be a competition leading move.

Innovation and leadership are often the keys to keeping the top dog position in business. ToysRus sprung to the front of the pack as a toy buyers super store. The concept was simple; ‘make your store as big as a warehouse’.  Have loads of product in the largest footprint retail outlet you can find. The large form factor stores really blow away the competition and help streamline inventory management.

Check Out The Baby Faced Look Of The Modern 3d Printing Entrepreneur

The PieceMaker Factory is the brain child of Arden Rosenblatt CEO & Co-Founder and Alejandro Sklar CTO & Co-Founder. I must be getting old, because these two look like they would certainly be asked for an ID check when buying a beer. You have to hand it to young guys such as these getting a visionary concept up in front of a company as big as ToysRus.

PieceMaker Next Pilot ToysRus
ToysRus PieceMaker Factory   Next Pilot ToysRus


PieceMaker Factory
PieceMaker Factory™

The Paradigm Shifting Threat / Opportunity That 3d Printing Presents

I would expect that the personalisation and create on demand styled future that 3d Printing introduces, must have been seen as a threat on a ToysRus whiteboard in a board room somewhere.

Think about the buzz that could be created by a launch of a movie with full merchandising that is personalised to the target market.. Boom, you could draw massive retail traffic and instantly defeat any competition. Not to mention the up-sells that could go with it. Little Johnny or Jenny gets their face on one of the latest hit series action figures. 3d Systems are gearing up for this sort of in-store / retail personalisation.

The ToysRus PieceMaker system seems to currently be geared up to do mono colour plastic extrusion style 3d Printing, that will allow a toy shopper to produce small items that are personalised.

Something like a toy that would once have been an injection moulded single colour job. A guitar plectrum, gyro or other nicknack. I used to love those sort of thing you used to get in the Cereal box! There is no doubt a market for them especially if they tap into what is current.

‘Point Of Sale’ Also Becomes ‘Point Of Personalisation’ And ‘Point Of Production’

PieceMaker seem to have the vision of personalised and on demand toys from in store 3d Printing Factories as the next place to be. I feel there will be a strong new market that will spring up over what I am calling The Desktop Factory. These 3d Printing units will have many functions and materials within the box that will output a finished product or component. The impact of this technology as it is created and perfected will no doubt have the ability to change the way our world of product creation works. It could bring in the a second wave, industrial revolution.

The Big Guys Are Coming To 3d Print On Demand And Point Of Sale

I noted on the 3d Systems Euromold 2014 video at about 8.45 minutes in, that they have what they are calling a continuous high speed fab grade manufacturing process. That’s a mouthful, but it does sound pretty exciting.  It uses droplet technology to be able to 3d Print mass production personalised items in vibrant colours which seems to be on a conveyer type line.   The potential for this sort of system is that it would be able to turn around personalised merchandise extremely quickly.  Merge your database file of customer details and off you go producing tailored output while people wait.

The droplet technology is perhaps similar to the recently released Hewlett Packard Multi Jet Fusion technology. Hewlett Packard Multi Jet Fusion technology is allowing the production of products with a combination of material properties including colour, wear resistance, hardness and stiffness etc. So it is no doubt a threat/opportunity for the traditional toy maker and marketer. Imagine being able to produce a fully functional branding and styled model car from the latest hit movie that is then tailored and value added by the end user.  Imagine the hobby shop that can produce that sort after scale model that is fully functional to your specs.

Once again 3d Systems are gearing up with their 3dMe Face scanning unit that will allow production of action figures that are personalised to the individual. I noted that David Hasslehoff AKA ‘The Hoff’ has already been doing promotional work for action figures based around the famous Baywatch series. So the die is cast! It does seem that this area is set to explode.  I will soon be doing a dedicated story to this exciting area.

UPS Stores have also added 3d Printing capability to their retail outlets and are promoting it as a real success story.

So it is likely that we will increasingly see retail outlets experimenting with 3d Printing.

Two PieceMaker Factories Should Be In Action Now

I could see two sites that are planned for late November to be offering the PieceMaker service. Obviously they would want to be in store and fully functional 3d Printing toys for Christmas. Christmas is the opportunity to sell a boat load of toys as everyone digs into their pockets to spend up big. In fact as retailers well know a good Christmas can make or break the whole years performance.

  1. ToysRUs Totowa Store
    445 U.S. 46
    Totowa, NJ 07512
    10:00 am – 9:00 pm
    (973) 256-6003
  2. Toys “R” Us Cranberry OfficeMax
    Cranberry Square
    1000 Cranberry Square Dr
    Cranberry Township, PA 16066
    10:00 am – 9:00 pm
    (724) 742-8697
Interesting Stats
  • 18 average minutes to print a toy
  • 4.5 square footage of the kiosk
  • #1 most profitable product per square foot during pilot launch month
  • 18% conversion rate for customers who make a purchase after using The PieceMaker Factory™

The Future For ToysRus PieceMaker

The “ToysRus PieceMaker” plan seems to be to offer more advanced toy printers in the future. PieceMaker are also offering the service to the market and are asking for interested parties to approach them. There is also an opt-in form for designers. This is an important point that has been learned by the big guys like Apple and Microsoft.

To Be A Major Force You Need The Creators On Board

If you want to be a major force, you need the creators / developers on board. In other words you are only as strong as the cool new apps that you are available. No apps no traffic. No traffic, no future. Microsoft and Google are still wrestling to catch up on this front.

So PieceMaker seem to understand that it won’t just be its ‘3d Printing wonder boxes’, that rule the day. Without awesome and creative designers the game is lost.

As 3d Printers Advance To Desktop Factories The Big Guys Will Dominate?

In fact, I would go so far as to say, that the deep pockets of the bigger players will steadily dominate. This is due to the constant demand for R&D for making more and more advanced 3d Printing equipment.  This is one of the implications of the move of 3d Printers to being more of a Desktop Factory.

Obviously to be a leader in the desktop factory space you need advanced software to handle the various colours and properties that will be present in the final product. You also need advanced deposition and materials systems that are going to be highly specialised for the job at hand.

A company with huge R&D budgets starts to have a lot of advantages over one that does not. When all you were trying to produce was a plastic extruder that interfaced to open source software no big deal. But in the Desk Top Factory stakes, it is a much bigger play into high tech verticals like software, materials and design technologies.

That is not to say that we won’t see the genius innovators pop up. But it may soon seem a lot harder to sell a basic plastic extruder out there.

Conclusions On The PieceMaker Factory™

This is a great concept that is being introduced by this team lead by its two young co-founders.  If the test pilot stats are anything to go by then it seems like ToysRus will get a lot of benefit from having the technology in store. (Especially in time for a big Christmas rush)

To be a real force to be reckoned with into the future, The PieceMaker Factory™ will need to become a true Desktop Factory. Providing products that are more than just short term novelty value.  Speed will also be needed, as the impatient shopper is unlikely to want to wait too long for their products to be produced.  “Come back tomorrow,” would put a real damper on sales.  This could be the likely outcome if the products really start selling well.

The thing I like is that these guys are out there pushing the boundaries.  They are showing that 3d Printing has the potential to be a game changer at the ‘point of sale’.  They have scored a ToysRus PieceMaker deal that could set them up for a big future.  This is a real coup.  No doubt there will be many more retailers taking note and wanting to duplicate and success stories.

For ToysRus, this is a real leadership move.  Many major companies are clearly looking at the strategic impact of 3d Printing and experimenting to manage risk and look at real future opportunities.   Personalised toys and merchandise may be the next big thing.  So watch this space.  It seems like a great business opportunity and it seems that they have managed to get the systems in store prior to the Christmas rush.




ToysRus PieceMaker

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