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‘Final Fantasy VII’ Characters 3D Printed Straight from the Game

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 16 comments

These 3D printed models were based directly on the original character models from 'Final Fantasy VII.'These 3D printed models were based directly on the original character models from 'Final Fantasy VII.'Here comes Cloud-based 3D printing!

Cloud Strife, that is — the main character of the classic video game "Final Fantasy VII."

Digital artist and "Final Fantasy" fan Joaquin Baldwin has 3D printed the characters from the beloved game based directly on their original, blocky low-polygon appearance.

Baldwin ripped the characters' 3D models from the 1998 PC version of the game using software called Biturn and Unmass.

That doesn't mean it was easy, however. After exporting the models, Baldwin had to convert them to a modern file format, then fix up any holes or glitches and reposition them so they would stand up straight when printed. Further, each character model had to be manually retextured and recolored.

Finally, Baldwin hollowed the models out so they would be cheaper to print. "It's a long and tedious process," he told us. "I only did it as a labor of love since I'm a huge fan of the game."

Of course, Baldwin was making money on the printed products. On his Shapeways page, alongside his original 3D printed designs, Baldwin sold the models for between $14 (for character Yuffie Kisaragi) and $32 (for the Chocobo).

The model's pricing is determined by its volume, Baldwin explained. "So you will see that most of the female characters are cheaper because they are a bit smaller,” even with the character Tifa's large breasts, Baldwin said.

MORE: 'Boob Jam' Game Design Challenge Receives Support

Square Enix, the company that owns the "Final Fantasy" brand, wasn't pleased that Baldwin was selling their intellectual property. Baldwin received a takedown notice from Square Enix and took the models down today.

"All orders that haven't been printed will be refunded, and I can't print any of them anymore," Baldwin told us. "It was a good ride while it lasted."

This appears to be the first time someone has ported a model from a video game into 3D printer-compatible software and printed it. Obviously the process isn't seamless, but demand for Baldwin's models has been tremendous. "I didn't expect it to go so wildly viral," Baldwin told us.

Square Enix doesn't sell any toy versions of these iconic characters as they appeared in the original game.

That's because there are other, more robust versions of the characters. For one, the character models from the battles in "Final Fantasy VII" are a bit higher-resolution — and the ones in the prerendered cut scenes are even more so. Plus, the characters have since been redesigned in more recent media such as the digitally animated movie "Advent Children" and the video games "Dirge of Cerberus" and "Crisis Core," so the action figures Square Enix sells are based on these models.  

The original game's outdated graphics are part of the reason why so many fans have been clamoring for a "Final Fantasy VII" remake for years.

But Baldwin thinks the old character models still have a certain nostalgic charm.  "If I wanted the normal-proportion version, I would buy the official action figures, which are already very cool; there's no need to remake them."

These models, on the other hand, have something that the realistic versions lack: They're cute.

"They have huge heads, and they are extremely abstracted. They are simple, like a Hello Kitty or a Pokémon, they have a different type of appeal. They are also nostalgic, [in that] they remind us of the way the game was, more than the way the characters look today with all the new graphics. Just like an 8-bit Mario gives you that happy feeling."

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 3 Hide
    xerxces , August 14, 2013 4:54 PM
    All there is to say is "Nice", lol
  • 0 Hide
    cozmium , August 14, 2013 5:45 PM
    "Baldwin hollowed the models out so they would be cheaper to print. "It's a long and tedious process," he told us." - He lied. They are exceptionally low poly, and most if not all 3D packages have some sort of boolean subtract function so all you would have to do is rezise it in another layer and subtract from the original. Voila: a hollow model in >10 seconds.
  • 0 Hide
    cozmium , August 14, 2013 5:49 PM
    I obviously meant "<" - thanks for making your pages here editable Toms. While i'm here again though, it was pretty bold to try and sell them when obviously they are one of the most famous IPs of SE.
  • Display all 16 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    nevilence , August 14, 2013 6:47 PM
    I would of forked out for each one of them if they were still for sale, best game ever ><
  • 0 Hide
    chicofehr , August 14, 2013 8:55 PM
    did he upload the models so we can print our own when we can afford a 3D printer?
  • 0 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , August 14, 2013 11:45 PM
    That's actually really awesome. Wish I'd caught wind of this before he was served the inevitable take-down notice. Hopefully Square-Enix will note the demand for these and make some official ones.
  • 0 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , August 15, 2013 6:59 AM
    Man, if these 3D printers ever become commercially available for the general public, the toy industry will take a huge hit. Everyone would just start to print their favorite video game or cartoon characters. As long as we don't sell them it should be legal, right?
  • 0 Hide
    shadowfamicom , August 15, 2013 7:15 AM
    Good work with extracting and preparing the old models for printing. I am surprised he did it himself and didn't just got to some of the many websites that posts video game 3D models. On a side note.... I still cannot get into FFVII... after FF6 (FF3 in the states) I didn't really enjoy a Final Fantasy game for a long time. I rather watch a black and white made for TV movie, in Russian on a 12 inch TV with bad reception then try to sit through FF7 again. I still say a big reason why the FF7's fanbase is so fanatical because for most of them it was their first RPG. Give me Chrono Trigger or Dragon Quest (insert number) over FF7 any day.
  • 0 Hide
    monkeycmonkeydu , August 15, 2013 7:50 AM
    It wasn't everyone's first RPG, it was quite a revolutionary game when it came out... The first several Final Fantasy games were amazing on NES and SNES, but they were fundamentally different... I actually bought that game BEFORE I bought a playstation to play it on, that is how much I wanted to play this game... Guess how many times I have done that since - zilch. For their first attempt at converting a 2d series to a 3d story and world they did a fantastic job, the variety and immersion of the world has been matched by few games since then, first time through I think I logged about 130 hours and still had a few things left I could have done. The music was exponentially more engaging than the previous games, and the wide range of characters meant something for everyone. I think people who dismiss this game out of hand never truly considered what a masterpiece it was for game design both at the time and still to this day.
  • 0 Hide
    inerax , August 15, 2013 9:02 AM
    He should put the files on the pirate bay lol. Let people with 3D printers go nuts.
  • 0 Hide
    shadowfamicom , August 15, 2013 9:53 AM
    Oh I think it was an interesting piece of game design and set the stage for things to come. 2D to 3D was always the big problem of the day. To me though, as a game I do not find it engaging, both when it came out or when it gets booted up now. I don't think that it was everyone's first RPG (I know alot of people who like it that had been into RPGs since the NES). I just find for a lot of people it was their first. Either way not my cup of tea.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , August 15, 2013 10:41 AM
    @shadowfamicom,

    I'm a big fan of FF7, but you are correct that it can't compare to Chrono Trigger (probably the best console RPG of all time). My first console RPG was probably A Link To The Past.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , August 15, 2013 11:20 AM
    You can do same with Skyrim or New Vegas models. Pretty cool. I have printed a Dwemer spider, Centurion, Grand Soul Gem and holder and made a working Horn lamp. It takes a little work to clean up the files and sometimes just recreating based of original works best or you get print holes or air printing.
  • 0 Hide
    fracture , August 15, 2013 11:58 AM
    Joaquin Baldwin used to make $100 an hour on the computer. He had been laid off for 10 months. But in comes Square Enix. Now he borke.
  • 0 Hide
    master_chen , August 16, 2013 1:31 PM
    ....well...not bad, but...now do full-sized models from Final Fantasy VIII (including entire Triple Triad board and all of the cards), Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Shadow Hearts II (including all Harmonixer Fusion forms), Tekken 5 (including all possible customizations), BIOHAZARD 2, Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill 3 and Dragon Quest VIII - and I'm sold for 3D-Printing technologies.
  • 0 Hide
    rmstallman , August 24, 2013 11:33 AM
    The article is clear except for one point which is totally confused,
    where it said that "Baldwin was selling their intellectual property".
    That is nonsense. Baldwin was selling little models of characters.

    Based on the facts stated in the article, it appears
    these models infringed the copyright on the video game.
    That's a simple, clear way to say what happened.
    But he wasn't "selling their copyright"; there is no way
    he could do that.

    As for "intellectual property", that's just a way of lumping together
    copyright with a dozen or so other unrelated laws that are irrelevant
    to this case. Those laws really exist, but "intellectual property" is
    a fiction -- an overgeneralization that spreads confusion every time
    it is used. The reason it's used is that some lawyers and PR
    organizations find it effective propaganda for their interests; and
    since they use it, people assume it is more than a fiction.

    If you want to understand what copyright law says and does, and think
    about the issues it raises, the first step is to expunge "intellectual
    property" from your thinking.

    See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html for more explanation.
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