written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Here's an interesting concept, though the Kickstarter has already been fully funded I wanted to share this anyway. Have you ever wanted to BE your own Super Hero? In fact have you ever wanted to BE a Super Hero figure? I'm sure you could buy an Iron Man or Superman and go through the painstaking effort of recreating your likeness... but for the less than craft savvy, these folks have an option for you.
Enter You Kick Ass, a service where you can have your likeness literally made into a super hero figure. How cool is that? So with that I want you to meet Keri!
Keri Andrews is one of the three founders and the "Chief Ass-Kicker" of You Kick Ass. The other two are Douglas Jordan and Alesia Glidewell. Alesia was also used as the the model for Chell in Valve's popular puzzle-shooter Portal. After they released a toy based on Alesia's likeness as Chell, she got to talking to her friends hoping to offer that same super cool experience for others... thus You Kick Ass was born. I got the chance to interview Keri, check it out below.
Lifted Geek: Briefly introduce yourself Keri.
Keri Andrews: My name is Keri Andrews and my business partners are Alesia Glidewell and Douglas Jordan. Since I refer to them in this it would probably be handy for you to have everybody's full names :)
LG: How did this whole concept come to be?
Keri: Alesia had been the model for "Chell" in the Portal video games, and an action figure had recently been made of her character. That sparked the idea. Soon after that conversation, I went through graduate school and wound up focusing on our idea as my business plan project. All the numbers seemed to look positive. I thought, "Hey, we could actually do this!" So we did.
LG: Did you encounter any challenges while conceptualizing the concept?
Keri: All sorts of challenges! First of all, none of us had even seen a 3D printer in person so we had no idea what their capabilities or costs were. To us, they were magical and could do anything. The reality is that there are a lot of limitations. We initially thought we'd have a retail store, but quickly learned that 3D printers are too slow. Also we started to think of other characters beyond just superheroes, but we surveyed customers and they didn't like our other characters. Our name "You Kick Ass" was meant to be open-ended enough that kicking ass could mean a lot of things, because we didn't want to pigeon-hole ourselves into just superheroes. It still might, we're exploring our options.
LG: What steps have you taken to make these items affordable to the end user while also generating profit for your team?
Keri: We decided to only 3D print the heads, and to have the bodies manufactured. Manufacturing the bodies ourselves cut down the costs because we avoid the mark-up of buying dolls that have already been made. We also decided to avoid using the traditional DC or Marvel characters for now, because licensing fees are too high for a start-up. There are a couple of companies out there that will make little mini-me dolls that are dressed like the real person, but the cost of doll clothes was also high and so we just stuck to a fully molded and painted body. Customers seemed to like that style better anyway.
LG: Who are some of your favorite Superheroes?
Keri: My nickname has been "Batgirl" for years because I used to drive a Batmobile. Not a fancy Batmobile, I'm talking about a white '87 Hyundai Excel with Batman logos painted on the sides and bat flames coming out of the wheels. It sounded like a great idea in my early twenties. And actually, the more I learned about Barbara Gordon's character, the more I really grew to like her. She's smart, a bad-ass martial artist, and even a bullet in the spine couldn't stop her.
LG: Run into any trouble with licensing?
Keri: No we avoided that whole thing. It turned out that many customers wanted to be their own superhero anyway instead of just popping off Superman's head from an existing action figure. I've seen other companies try to do that, and it just screams "lawsuit" to me.
LG: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Keri: Actually I have my super-powers listed right on my business card! I have two -- transmutation, which is the ability to turn anything into something else; and cyberkinesis, which is the ability to control technology with my mind.
LG: What about your business partners? If Alesia or Douglas had a super power (according to you) what would it be?
Alesia's power would be persuasion. She could convince anyone to do anything. That girl has powers. Doug's would be the ability to focus on hundreds of things at once. He's a bit ADHD, which actually works really well for his creativity. His mind works in amazing and baffling ways.
LG: and in closing... in a nutshell... what would you like to say to our g33ks in regards to this project?
Keri: I'd say hurry! Our Kickstarter project only goes through Wednesday. After that it will be October before these are up for sale again. http://bit.ly/youkickass
AWESOME! Who wouldn't want to be their own hero right? Make sure to check out You Kick Ass on Twitter and like them on Facebook as well. We here at the Lifted Geek offices are big on being local and while we strive to reach beyond our Evergreen State of Mind reach, we are Seattle to the core and we are big on promoting local geeks with innovative ideas like the folks at You Kick Ass, as Macklemore would say "My City's Filthy." Stay Frosty g33ks, and Get Lifted.