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My First Scoble: a DIY gift idea

Give that special boss, client, co-worker, employee, friend, etc. their own action figure doll. You can do it the cheap way -- about $6.00, or the ultra-expsensive way -- $300 and up. It's a great way to call out someone's special attributes and let them know you've been paying attention. This "tradition" started when I was at Sun, and several of my former Sun co-workers have kept it up. So for this Christmas, I made a My First Scoble doll for Robert Scoble.
This little DIY project takes about an hour, and the following materials:

1) An action figure / doll
I prefer Barbie or Ken-style dolls, but virtually anything will work. The "Blaine" doll (one of Ken's friends) cost $4.00 at Target. The easiest ones to work with have a simple rectangular box, so it's easy to completely cover it with your own print-out.

2) Some digital photos of the person

3) Some typical or favorite quotes/sayings... things the person is known for (or that you want to make fun of)

4) Ink-jet paper with low-tack sticky backing.
I prefer the Post-it Picture Paper, in 8.5 x 11 size, because it's got a fairly strong stickiness, but you can still reposition it without tearing anything!

Original Front:

Modified Front:

Original Back:

Modified Back:

Modified Side One:

Modified Side Two:

Basic Instructions

First, I measured the box--the one I used for My First Scoble was 13.5 inches tall and 7.5 inches wide

Next, I made a single image to cover the back and sides of the box. I used Photoshop, but any desktop publishing or image-creation program will do. Even though this isn't a "talking" doll, people seem to enjoy having their quotes, so we always include a list of things the doll would say.

Finally, I printed the image on the ink jet post-it note paper, cut the edges off with a paper cutter, and wrapped the entire thing around the box. Since the box was longer than the post-it note (the box was 13.5, and the paper was only 11.5 inches tall), I had to print it on two separate sheets and then splice it together. The post-it note stickiness makes this really easy.

For My First Scoble, I also needed to make a label/logo for the front to cover up the "Barbie". And just for fun, I changed the shirt to a white one I had from another doll, so that I could make it into one of Hugh's Gaping Void t-shirts. The cartoon on the shirt is actually one that Robert's been photographed in many times.

So that's the simple and inexpensive version.


* Include miniature items (accessories).
I was going to make a tiny copy of Robert and Shel's book, Naked Conversations, and put it in the doll's hand, but I ran out of time.

* Alter the clothes or make new ones.
OpenOffice goddess Solveig Haugland (her new OpenOffice book just came out) is the one who started this whole thing at Sun, and she's quite the crafter. She's made clothes for some of them that match what the person is wearing in a picture. I took the easy way out and made a custom t-shirt for Scoble just by sticking an image on a white t-shirt from another doll of the same size.

* Create a completely custom box.

For a usually-hefty fee, you can have a company make a custom-molded head based on photos of the person. In other words, you can have a personalized action-figure created! Companies that do this include:

Highly Flammable Toys creates one-off action figures. Very very cool.

Herobuilders makes personalized action figures. I don't know much about them.

HeadBobble makes... wait for it... custom bobble-heads. They're much less expensive (the site says they start at $69) than a fully-custom action figure.

Michael Leavitt can be commissioned to make custom action figures.

Andgor is my favorite company for this, but I can't get to their website right now... I'm hoping that's just temporary and you can try it later.

On this blog, we always talk about making our users into heros, so why give at least one special user or client their own superhero figure or... at least a custom Ken doll like My First Scoble ; )

Have a festive Christmas or a happy whatever! I'll be back in a couple of days with "real" content. For now, cheers to all.

(Robert: sorry I didn't finish this sooner; it'll have to be a post-Xmas gift ; )

(I also modded Barbie for my friend Tara Hunt -- complete with a miniskirt and boots (Tara is, well, hot)-- but I still have one thing left to do, Tara, so stay tuned...)

[I used CC photos of Scoble from Flickr, taken by the following people:
JDLasica, Thomas Hawk, Derek K Miller, Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, Peter Orosz, Mike Dunn, Kris Krug,Jason DeFillippo, Tantek. They all have tons of other wonderful photos]

Posted by Kathy on December 24, 2006 | Permalink


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Merry Christmas!

Posted by: Steven Lilley | Dec 24, 2006 10:37:39 PM

OMG - this had me giggling hilariously!! I think I just might post about this tomorrow morning - just as a great gift of laughter :)

Awesome job!

Posted by: Li Evans | Dec 24, 2006 10:59:29 PM

Heheh, that's a great Christmas gift! Thanks, you're the best.

Posted by: Robert Scoble | Dec 24, 2006 11:53:29 PM

Kathy, this is ingenious and hilarious. You missed out one definitive Scoble phrase - "LinkBlog", or is it "GestureBlog" :-)

Posted by: Deepak | Dec 25, 2006 12:43:07 AM

Fantastic gift :))) Thanks for the idea!

Posted by: Pauly | Dec 25, 2006 12:55:04 AM

Hi Kathy,

You missed one thing -- these things are boomerangy and come around again. ;> Which is actually fine and kind of fun. I made a couple for friends at Sun, and then when I left another company to be self-employed, I was presented with a "Short-timer Solveig" doll (a repackaged version of Queen Amidalah (sp?) from Star Wars, which was fun.

So look for a "My First Passionate User" or something similar to be coming around for your birthday in June. Oops, was that out loud? ;>


Posted by: Solveig Haugland | Dec 25, 2006 1:58:53 AM

I'd always heard that Californians were obsessed with modified fronts and now I see it's true.

Posted by: John Dodds | Dec 25, 2006 3:24:04 AM

Someone has way, WAY too much time on her hands. ;-P

Posted by: Daniel Berger | Dec 25, 2006 7:45:18 AM

John, how long has it been since you've lived in LA? They're obsessed with modifying *everything* now...

Daniel: I'm snowed in. I don't have many indoor hobbies. Weird things happen. ; )

Solveig: I still think my favorite was "Short-Timer Jari", the original. I no longer remember which action figure it was, but something with lots of big weapons. Really big weapons. OK, I'm looking forward to my birthday.

We're still buried in snow here at the farm, but it looks like it's going to be a spectacular day -- sunny and it's going to reach 40 degrees!
Cheers, everyone.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Dec 25, 2006 8:17:52 AM

Submit this to Craft; it's hilarious!

Posted by: Anita Rowland | Dec 25, 2006 8:24:48 AM

So clever and hip! Thx for sharing the awesome creativity....Jill.

Posted by: Jill Foster | Dec 26, 2006 8:48:28 PM

Oh, this is adorable. What a sweet compliment for Scoble. Kathy you're amazing.

Posted by: Robyn Tippins | Dec 27, 2006 8:18:07 PM

This is sooo cool! My only problem is gonna be coming up with an excuse for the cashier to explain why a full-grown single male is buying a bunch of Barbie dolls. Um, they're for my kids, really ... yeah, that's it.

By the way, the local papers today are carrying an AP article about another custom bobblehead maker that I didn't see mentioned in the post.

His name is Bryan Guise, and his site is ItsYouSmall.com.

Posted by: Bill Mietelski | Dec 28, 2006 10:11:39 AM

Robyn: I'm not amazing...I'm just snowed in : ) But thanks so much for the comment!

Bill: Good find on the ItsYouSmall.com -- thank-you. And adopting the whole it's-for-my-kids attitude is incredibly useful. I use it every time I buy one of my biggest vices -- animal crackers.

Anita: thanks for the suggestion -- I took your advice, and they posted it. Thanks!

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Dec 28, 2006 10:25:52 AM

Robert has finally hit the big times!
An A+ lister!

Posted by: Ted Demopoulos | Dec 29, 2006 1:06:30 PM

My trackback seems to be misbehaving, so herewith a link to my post exploring some of the legal implications of your Barbie parody...may interest.


Posted by: Thomas Otter | Jan 3, 2007 12:16:35 PM

Blaine isn't "one of Ken's friends", he's Barbie's boyfriend! Ken got the heave-ho in 2004...

Posted by: numpty | Jan 16, 2007 6:13:18 PM

Nothing says "I care" like a personalized action figure. Here are some pics of the custom action figure I made (or repackaged) of a friend for that friend in a Secret Santa gift exchange a few years ago.

I found the generic action figure at a grocery store, carefully removed the plastic bubble from the backing, snapped pics of the figure itself, then created new packaging images in Fireworks. I printed the new packaging on full-page Avery labels and stuck them on medium thickness cardstock; then carefully affixed the bubble/figure on the new package. It was a blast to make.

Posted by: Kraemer | Jan 26, 2007 9:55:08 PM

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