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Show HN: Meet your cardboard buddy. (foldable.me)
240 points by hakkasan on Oct 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

Most of the comments here are a bum-out. Firstly, I don't think this is as trivial an idea to execute as a number of folks are saying. If you haven't launched something close to this complicated, you should refrain from suggesting this isn't much of an effort. It's clear that a lot of thought and work went into the concept, site, video, and product.

Second, this is rad! Maybe we're getting cynical or a bit lost in history, but the idea that for about what lunch costs lately a kid (chronological or spiritual) can get a website to send them something totally custom is pretty awesome. Think hard about how long this has even been practical to do at all, much less as a tiny upstart.

Oh, and it appears to be a successful Kickstarter project... so it's nice to see evidence of those.

Very nice. But your preview visualization uses what I assume to be close to final art, including all the flaps and all. With web inspector (and some curl) I was able to extract all the layers, combine them together, and get a printable file: http://cl.ly/JprN

I'm sure most of HN visitors would be able to do the same. Not sure if you should patch it, though: your target audience will surely won't do things like that, and visualization is already a complex beast.

Anyway, thanks for the free foldable design (:

Oh wow. We never expected someone to go to those lengths. If you send us an image of your assembled Foldable we'd be happy to send you, free of charge, our version printed on laminated, high stock card, precision cut and pre-creased so there's no gluing or cutting needed. Just want to make sure you have something to compare against ;-)

What a refreshing attitude - someone finds a way around the paywall and your response is - "oh yeah!? well our execution is better! And we'll prove it too!" I would love if it all companies took this approach instead of DRM/litigation. Hats off to you.

Heh, the first foldable prototypes were made by cutting these things out with an exacto knife. If you ever saw someone do that, you'd know why we're confident that the die-cutting is valuable.

There's tremendous satisfaction in cutting this by hand. And with the Cubee template there's far less risk of slicing yourself.

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll share a link to (what is from what I can tell by a quick search) thee template:


pepakura nightmares!!!!!

Gotta stand by your work.

And the point is? So you can pirate one, so what?

The concept doesn't live or die on the everyone coming in contact with it having enough integrity to either pay for it or pass, if nobody paid for it that would be a problem of course but the fact that you, flixic, figured out how to not pay isn't really much more of an issue than someone jumping the gate at the subway, or sneaking into the back of a movie theater.

You could always buy one of these from Amazon...


I know it is not a laser cutter (it uses a miniature blade), but you can take existing artwork or printouts and get really nice cuts with the software and USB. It can also score, for the folding portions.

I've used it for similar projects (kirigami - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirigami) and glass etching (making stencils). Not bad for less than $300.

Anyways, awesome site and a cool idea. I wish you guys much success!

That looks pretty rad. Would be great for prototyping.

Did you pirate that copy of Photoshop too? Show us your /etc/hosts file!

Hah I tease, I tease. But seriously though.

Proudly showing how I paid a few thousand dollars to corporation that showed total disregard to its users[1][2] http://cl.ly/JspZ

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3952263

[2] https://getsatisfaction.com/adobe/topics/why_are_uk_prices_n...

Same. Took me 15 minutes to figure it out and assemble the thing. I used webkit console and gimp.

And since I have a hand down on the image, I can personnalize it to be me even more. Heisenberg is my go-to t-shirt http://i.imgur.com/BwQU9.png

Nice! User designed t-shirts would be a rad idea. Try this on for size: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7brn6w9t11qk6saio1_1280.j...

Next step: create a Facebook app that lets you export your foldable.me to a facebook profile picture, maybe with something that lets you do a nice integration of profile picture + timeline cover photo.

foldable.me goes viral as friends see their friends use the site. You end up with tons of people using the site who would never consider paying $12 for a piece of coloured cardboard...

but once they get an emotional attachment to their avatar you can follow up with some lifecycle emails to convert them into a purchasing customer.

You could also have a feature where friends could gift their foldable.me to other friends.

Recreate people's pics from pics in their gallery.

I was hoping to upload my mugshot and convert it to a caricature. next iteration? Creating these of FB friends would be great gift items.

Seems like a nice way to create your own Cardboard Programmer[1] (for Rubber ducky debugging[2]) of anyone you like.

Edit: Maybe remote teams can print out all your coworkers so they keep you company.

[1] http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?CardboardProgrammer

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_duck_debugging

[3] Suggestion from [1]: "Uma Thurman's analytical, diagnostic, and motivational skills were amazing."

Edit: Maybe remote teams can print out all your coworkers so they keep you company.

That was almost my first thought on seeing this :-)

I'm jealous of all the people that can come up with ideas so incredibly trivial that they're awesome and everyone buys into them.

You will be surprised how much effort goes into executing 'trivial ideas'.

I think he meant to say that the idea is trivial, not the execution.

Just like twitter "idea" of publicly broadcasting 140 chars is trivial to make, but the whole "twitter" isn't.

Sometimes they're just trivial: see "Pet Rock".

Not to say that this particular project is, although it does look a bit faddish to me.

Marketing the pet rock apparently involved custom packaging design and manufacture, and the creation of a 32 page "Care and training" manual. So not that trivial.

32 pages and a little package was probably not even a week worth of work. Considering he made millions, it was pretty trivial, in my book.

You know, I personally wouldn't spend $11.99 on this, but I have no doubt that plenty of people will fork that out with ease. I love how you can create genuine value from virtually nothing. This makes people happy and doesn't waste tons of stuff in the process.

Clever idea. Would be nice to have a digital delivery method that sends a PDF so one can print them immediately. Americans are all about immediate gratification.

Might also consider a family pack. Don't know if these family stickers are popular in the UK, but they are everywhere here in the states. http://www.familystickers.com/

Thanks for the heads up Steve. That's an interesting idea.

Great work guys. Liked the video(s), the instructions are clear, you also set expectations well for shipping, etc. Plus, building your audience (and funding) through a kickstarter campaign is brilliant. I wouldn't worry about the "photo" style characters yet; scale first, excel at customer service, and then if needed, release a 2.0 foldable.me.

Thanks Tony. There's loads we want to do with it in the coming months. As always though, better shipped than perfect.

Yep. I agree. Folks seem caught up on "face images", but you may want to consider gaining licensing rights to work with professional and collegiate sports. Dropping a New York Yankees pin-striped-uni on a foldable.me would sell pretty well as an add-on price. (And you wouldn't have to give up quality control) Good luck!

This is freaking awesome well done guys. Would love to get these for our team and stick them on our kanban board instead of 2d south park characters!

EDIT: You should also make some animal shapes for pets!

Sweet! Send us a picture when you get them.

> stick them on our kanban board

note~ "kanban" already includes the notion of a board, so "kanban board" is sort of like "PIN number".

This may be pedantic, but I learned something.

p.s. in the spirit of pedantry:

看板 (kanban) = "signboard"; 板 (ita) = "board"

From a wikipedia glance, "kanban" was used here in the sense of a particular process-control method, and although the term "kanban" here is pretty clearly derived from 看板, I suppose now it could be considered a distinct term.

Still, "kanban board" really sounds redundant...

XBOX 360 avatars can be extremely customizable and are stored in a 3D format on MS servers (and likely on the console itself). The recognize many friends online because of their avatar.

I'd pay $$ to have a 3d printout of my XBOX 360 avatar...perhaps even with articulating appendages.

Would it be possible to make two sizes? I could see some mom buying a whole family. Followup could be pets. Maybe make some car decals that follow the same realm as the stickers you see on soccer mom vans

Thats a cool suggestion. Thanks

Just ordered one. I'm literally sitting on an L couch with my friend across from me while going through the options. Trying to look intently at her face without her noticing. Thankfully, she is lost in her own laptop.

For all the people saying you could download the files and do it yourself, I say sure. You could do that. But you could also send something nice to someone in the mail at some point in the future as a surprise. People like getting mail. Real mail. Ya you could put it in the mail yourself, but will you? $12 is cheeper than a movie in NYC. Totally worth it.

For the team at foldable.me: Great product. I would work on:

-expanding the selections and options

-adding high heel shoes

-allowing someone to upload a head shot and "cartoonize" it. There are some sites that do this... partner with them?

-add different sizes to your cutouts... s/m/l

-animals like dogs, cats, horses, sheep, cows, etc.

If you want some awesome downloadable freebies, the artist Patrick Washburn from Tokyo has been doing these types of foldable designs for awhile now:

Spock: http://blog.patokon.com/2011/08/spock-wobblehead-papercraft....

Spidey 50th Wobblehead and Old 52: http://blog.patokon.com/2012/06/spidey-50th-wobblehead-and-o...

Captain America and Conan: http://blog.patokon.com/2011/09/marvel-comics-wobbleheads-ca...

Yoda: http://blog.patokon.com/2011/07/yoda-papercraft.html

Putter King: http://www.slideshare.net/putterking/putter-king-wobblehead

Neat! I am having a lot of trouble making a character that resembles me though. I'll suggest the genetic algorithm used by the Nintendo Wii and also by some police departments to create composite sketches.

This mechanism gives you an array of 9 random faces to choose from, and asks you to pick the closest one. Using that information, it generates 9 more random faces, but guided towards the features that you've selected. After 10 or 15 rounds of this, you have converged on a near-perfect likeness.

It relies on the fact that I can often tell that a face doesn't quite look like me, but I'm not sure along what parameters. However, when presented with a variant with slightly larger eyes and a variant with slightly smaller eyes, I can immediately select the correct one.

Here's an article on how the avatar creation tool was built using 3D CSS: http://logicalfriday.com/2012/03/28/finally-a-legitimate-use...

I bought two from their Kickstarter for the girlfriend and I. I liked mine, but the girlfriend not so much - something about me telling her this stumpy little box was modelled on her didn't go down so well :)

If you want to make your own you can grab the Cubee template from here: http://www.cubeecraft.com/template.html

There's PDF and PSD; load it into Photoshop or Illustrator (or whatever works) and have at it.

I've built lots of papercraft toys, and designed a few. Half the fun is in downloading a file, printing it out, cutting it up, and ending up with something tangible.

BTW there's a copyright on this template, too. It looks identical to the Foldable.me figure.

Yes, we are working with the creator of CubeeCraft, Chris Beaumont. We're big fans of his work.

These sort of things discriminate against those of us who have no idea how to describe appearance! If only I could upload a photo and it would make a "closest match".

On another note, I went to make a pair of them for a friend and her husband's anniversary, but he has very little hair and there is no kind way to not put hair on something like this.

Hi there, does this option work for you? http://cl.ly/image/160y3e3j2Z0y

Yes, I think that's as kind as it can get!

My kid knows perfectly well what she looks like. The developers however don't seem to know anyone that is of the non-peachy variety...(!)

Only smooth & silky hairstyles.

All girls have dainty little noses.

All eyes have folds.

My (interracial) kid felt very welcome...

Try again.

(!)Edit: I was wrong, skin tone selection is there. Hair/nose remarks stand.

Thanks for your feedback. We've just added some more unisex noses. Let me know if those work for you.

As for the hair, we're aware there are some styles missing and we have more options in the pipeline.

If you want you can send through a photo of the styles you have in mind and I'll pass it onto our illustrator.

Hope that helps.

Maybe this could be a crowd sourceable feature. Someone on mechanical turk or crowdflower or 99 designs could take a photo and create your character and send the design back to you which you can print later.

For instance, there're several people doing drawings and caricatures on fiverr[1] for 5 bucks.

[1] http://fiverr.com/categories/graphics-design/create-cartoon-...

Oh man, I thought that was just me!

"Hmm, have I got a round face or a square face? What shape are my ears?" I HAVE NO IDEA.

There must be "automated caricature" software available?

I've seen those mall photo booths that supposedly do something like this - takes a snapshot of you and caricature-izes it. I can't for the life of me think of what they're called or who makes them.. Only other thing I remember is it's adorned with a picture of a girl who wearing a beret who looks like an artist.

In line with the people talking about giving these as gifts: what about the new Facebook gift platform?

I'm not totally sure I'd trust myself to give one of these as a gift, though, as I'd end up either creating a likeness of someone that they didn't like, or a completely narcissistic gift of my own likeness. But, hey, best of luck--I bet there are plenty of people who think otherwise!

White people only? I only discovered while trying to make one. Still, count me as a fan, just not a customer (yet).

Lovely 3D animation. Really lovely. I'm always happy to see 3D native on the web.

I think siculars's comment for adding animals is brilliant. I think a lot of people would like a desktop version of their favorite cat or dog :-)

You can set skin color on the head shape - there's only one head, but lots of colors.

Ah, ok thanks. I just ordered one.

Oh, and a halloween voodoo-doll variant could be a lot of fun :-)

It's great to see a Kickstarter project deliver! This is some really good execution. Best of luck to you guys.

Thanks. Kickstarter's been a massive help. I think they'll get through the current backlash in a much stronger place.

Great work guys. Easy to use website with a clear design. Love the product and will be ordering at least one.

Thanks Jay! Let us know what you think of the little fella

These guys provide free pop culture cutouts


I've done one of those before. The biggest pain was cutting all the little lines out. It's probably worth $12 just for a pre-cut version, plus you can customize it!

Being 6'6" tall and built like an NFL lineman, I have never been accused of being cute, light or portable. If I didn't feel buying one for myself would be somewhat narcissistic, I'd totally get one. If anyone wanted to buy me one as a present, I'd display it proudly on my desk though.

Novel and entertaining. Reminds me of creating a Mii on the Wii, only they arrive at your door.

It would be cool if you could get super mini versions that you could hand out as business cards. It's the kind of thing that recipients would definitely show around, and hold on to.

It would be interesting/challenging to also offer the figure in a 3D illusion version. (http://www.moillusions.com/2006/03/dragon-illusion.html)

Really cool concept. I'd love to get a couple of these as gifts. Only problem is that I suck at selecting the right features, so facial recognition or Mechanical Turk usage would really help.

(Also, a ponytail hairstyle would be nice.)

This is just out of the box thinking. Beautiful product. Ordering three.

Sales tip: this would make great Christmass Tree ornaments. I imagine a Chrsitmass tree with my whole family represneted as little carboard figures. Lovely.

Really cute! It'd be nice to be able to share a mockup with friends somehow.

Thanks, thats on the roadmap. We'll be able to turn the 3D css to pngs soon.

I had a lot of fun with it, and the only way I could share myy creation was to screenshot.... Personally I look at it as another revenue model. Make a model of Keene Reeves and sell it to his fans etc.


Nice, but needs face recognition. I can't be bothered to draw myself!

I would like to see a metal version. Paper does not seem like a durable material, and for the price of 3 Subway footlongs, I demand satisfaction.


However I prefer http://facemakr.com/ when it comes to the variations of facial parts.

Very nice and cute. I'd definitely use for gifts.

Bug report: the rotation and bottom scrolling buttons for lists didn't work for me in Chrome.

No option for mutton chops? Lost a sale :(

Love it, would be even better if you could upload a photo and have that as the face

When I first saw the site, I was hoping there would be a way to upload a picture, perhaps do some kind of feature-tagging (similar to the way you point out your pupils on photos on those try-on-glasses apps[1]) and have the site spit back a suggested face based on the features they had that most closely resembled yours.

Of course, this is complete spitballing, I have no idea if it's feasible.

[1]http://www.coastal.com/glasses/frames/derek-cardigan-7016-br... (click Try It On View)

They can also hire someone to do the matching manually (or do it themselves). It's a Show HN, which means they don't have a million users (yet)!

They could use mechanical turk

Love it. Surprisingly cheap too. I've ordered three and can't wait to see them!

Thanks. Let us know what you think of them.

It's a great idea. Impressed.

Oh, and can you make a zombie setup? I would totally pay for a mini-zombie-me

Ace. Halloween is around the corner!

You should consider offering an option to scale these up to life size.

... but what if I want one with a frown?


just kidding. awesome work, guys!

Your execution is brilliant. Very well made site.

Thanks, that's kind of you to say

Can't wait to see Maru cat version

Nice execution, great website, but a total waste of time and resources.

Should buy the .com

This is a best thing I've seen all day.

You want to get really rich? Integrate with the Flat Stanley industry.

Who needs this junk?

Who needs the different colored shirts in your closet?


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