Lil Papas

Modular 3d printed toy system

Massey University project

August 2016

3 months

Wellington, New Zealand

In the beginning of 2016 I did a project based around developing kids toys using emerging technologies and pushing the ways kids learn through creating. I joined forces with 2 other graphic designers and animation designer and evolved this idea into Lil Papas.

Lil Papas was designed to be used by the local museum Te Papa (translated to container of treasures/stories). Te Papa is developing a new area called the Learning Lab which will house new emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality, 3D scanners, hologram tables, 3D printing and much more. Lil Papas would fit into this by replicating popular exhibitions and artefacts, the toy itself is a modular design where each appendage or limb resembles popular artefacts such as T-rex heads, Humpback whale tails, Haast Eagle wings, Tuatara legs, ww11 soldier heads and many more,  the appendages contain ball joints and one body part with 5 sockets to create free moving ball and socket joints.

The aim of the project was to have kids interacting with the museums in a different way in which they can handle interchange and even take home their favourite artefacts. Each artefact comes with an information card displaying 3 facts and details about their 3D model. The kid would take these information cards up to the Learning Lab where they could scan using a unique Messanger or Snap style code integrated into the texture of the card backing. Once scanned the kid can interact with the parts using a hologram display or VR goggles. After this they can have their personalised appendages printed in front of them to take home.

The process of making each appendage started with either a 3D CAD model, or a physical model sculpted from monster clay and scanned in a Roland 3D scanner. The model is then edited to minimise the amount of support material required for printing and the ball joint is added, this process can be streamlined so that the staff or even kids can create their own parts. When printing we experimented with a range of filaments including ABS, PLA, recycled material and flexible filament.

By using an exponential technology such as 3D printing we have allowed for our idea to grow and develop, limited only by the clients application.  For Te Papa we tried to keep it relatively local such as native birds and New Zealand history.


This project was featured in Thistle Hall’s  Printmaking Emporium exhibition. We had a class from the Mt Cook primary school come and learn about 3D printing and play with Lil Papas. We had a great time and the kids wouldn’t put the toys down as well as showing a huge interest in the process of 3D printing. This was great validation and inspired us to keep developing this idea to pitch to museums in the future.

Stay tuned for more developments.



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