Seattle startup turns anyone into a superhero action figure
SEATTLE -- A Seattle start-up company with an unusual name believes there's a superhero in all of us. You Kick Ass will allow anyone to be made into a superhero action figure, complete with unique powers and a unique name. No need for off-the-shelf store bought superheroes when you can be one yourself.
The company was founded by three close friends after one of them actually became a superhero. Alesia Glidewell was the model for Chell, the super heroine in the popular Portal video game series made by Seattle-based Valve. Glidewell's experience of being photographed and transformed into a 3D character was the genius of the company's idea.
"It was and very empowering to become my own action figure," says Glidewell in the company's Kickstarter video. "We thought we'd love to give other people that same chance, so we teamed up and You Kick Ass was born".
The trio just completed a successful Kickstart effort raising over $46,000 to fund a full time effort to build a production line and create customized superhero characters.
Co-founder Kari Andrews quit her fulltime job doing business analytics for Bing at Microsoft to work full time getting the new company off the ground. Of course, she already has a superhero modeled after herself.
"I call myself 'Transformer Girl,' " says Andrews. "She has the ability to turn anything into something else."
Andrews, Glidewell and fellow co-founder Douglas Jordan have had the idea for several years but it wasn't until Andrews crunched the numbers while building a company business plan as part of her MBA degree at Washington State University.
"We believe there's superhero in everyone, it's just that many don't know what their powers are going to be," says Andrews. The company is developing a website and will eventually build a web app to allow users to upload a head shot of themselves. Andrews says their propriety software will transform the picture into a 3D version of someone's head.
The user will then get to select a costume and superpowers for their character. The app will also generate a superhero name or you can make one up yourself. The company has two Zcorp 3D printers that will make a color version of the user's head to go onto of the character.
The company will create the backstory that goes on the back of the box that describes how you became a superhero and what your powers are. What's delivered is a complete action superhero package just like the kind you would buy for Spiderman or the Hulk.
The company hopes to start going into full production and taking customer orders in a couple of weeks. The estimate price of a customized action figure will be $60.
"Being able to quit my job at Microsoft in order to make super hero action figures all day, this feels like a dream," says Andrews.