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

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+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects. 

  • xerxces
    All there is to say is "Nice", lol
  • cozmium
    "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.
  • cozmium
    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.
  • nevilence
    I would of forked out for each one of them if they were still for sale, best game ever ><
  • chicofehr
    did he upload the models so we can print our own when we can afford a 3D printer?
  • kyuuketsuki
    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.
  • lpedraja2002
    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?
  • shadowfamicom
    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.
  • monkeycmonkeydu
    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.
  • inerax
    He should put the files on the pirate bay lol. Let people with 3D printers go nuts.