Last week I wrote about how View-Master is upgrading their classic toy with a new virtual reality version that is going to have Google and Apple competing like crazy. Now Mattel is bringing the future to the classic ThingMaker that has been used to make creepy crawlies since the 1960's. I can still remember the commercials for these gooey looking bugs that you could make at home with your own molds and materials. They had a similar design for making jewelry too. If you thought the Easy-Bake Oven was cool, just wait until you get a look at the new ThingMaker.
If you thought the Easy-Bake Oven was cool, just wait until you get a look at the new ThingMaker.
These toys taught children the basics of what it took to make things from raw materials and now, Mattel is helping take that concept one step further with a 3D printing studio that is available for pre-order starting today. At $299.99, it's one of the most affordable 3D printers on the market and it's made with the proper safety precautions to let little fingers get in on all the action. The printer door actually stays locked until all of the printing has been completed and the printer head retracts so that those tiny hands won't get burned by the machine.
It all starts with the ThingMaker Design App that was created in a partnership with Autodesk. Kids and their parents can download the app from iOS or Android and begin creating toys of all kinds ranging from dolls to action figures to jewelry like bracelets, rings and necklaces. The studio will come with multiple colors to choose from as far as filament is concerned and should give kids ample resources to create many toys with just one spool. The printer separates the pieces in its queue by color, printing all the pieces in one color group one at a time. Kids can design their whole figurine with multiple colors and pieces and the machine will automatically print out all the pieces that the toy needs.
3D printing has been a thing mostly for adults up until this point and has been focused on mainly for its possible use with scientific advances. Doctors are talking about 3D printing their own medical devices and have already begun to use 3D printed models to help better understand some patients and procedures before they go into surgery. The most progress could be coming from the world of children's toys to make this kind of technology available at a price point that people can afford. Children will now have the power to design and create their own toys with the help of apps, software and tablets, of course.
Though it is easily accessible and affordable, the ThingMaker 3D printer does still take time to make the new toy pieces. In this video by FamilyGamerTV we can see a mock up example of a figurine that takes a little over 10 hours to make. I think that kids will like watching their toys come to life but some of these designs may eventually have to be made overnight, since watching that many hours of printing probably takes patience that most kiddos don't have. Leave it to Mattel to take a spin on a classic toy and let kids get in on the future of toy technology.