Artist Joaquin Baldwin excited countless gaming fans recently by creating and selling a set of gorgeous 3D-printed Final Fantasy VII figures — but those that didn't pick theirs up already are now out of luck thanks to developer Square Enix. CNET reports that Shapeways — the 3D-printing shop and marketplace that Baldwin was using to create and sell the figures — received a takedown notice from Square Enix on Wednesday, causing it to immediately pull the figurines off the market. "We ask that our community respects the rights of other designers," Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen told CNET in a statement. "In order to comply with the DMCA and protect intellectual property right owners, we follow a strict takedown process as explained in our Content policy." Refunds will be provided to those that paid for their figures but didn't receive them.
While the development may be disappointing to fans, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Baldwin created the figures using models he ripped directly from a PC port of Final Fantasy VII itself, and was selling them at a profit with prices ranging from $14 to $60 each. He also admits he never contacted Square Enix about licensing the designs or to obtain their authorization — even though the company has its own line of merchandise and figures on the market. "It'd be cool, but them being such a big company, I don't think it would work out," Baldwin told CNET. "I'm not a businessman in that sense — just a fan."
"I'm not a businessman in that sense — just a fan."
Square Enix is known for vigorously defending its intellectual property rights when it comes to the Final Fantasy franchise. Earlier this year it shut down a Kickstarter campaign that was hoping to fund an unofficial FFVII web series, and in 2012 a campaign for a Final Fantasy-related remix album had to put things on hold before working out an arrangement with the company. The advent of 3D printing will undoubtedly make this type of problem even more common when it comes to the world of figurines and collectibles. But with merchandising such a tremendous source of revenue, it isn't likely going to stop companies from going after individuals that are profiting on their trademarks and designs — no matter how cool the products might be.