Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by Danielle
Mattel and AutoDesk give classic DIY toy a modern maker over.
Parents may remember the 1960s toy, the ThingMaker. At the time it was ahead of its time. It really was the first DIY toy that let kids make their own creepy crawlers. Kids poured heated plastic into molds, which were heated up and then cooled. Back then 3D printing was nowhere in sight.
At Toy Fair 2016, Mattel announced that it has plans to bring back ThingMaker as a 3D printer. According to USA Today, Mattel is partnering with Autodesk, bringing back the toy with a complete 21st Century tech makeover. With Mattel and Autodesk coming together, ThingMaker takes advantage of 3D printers in the toy space.
ThingMaker uses today’s technology to let kids and families design, create, and print their own toys. It’s a 3D printer that brings the toy to the modern era. While Mattel had a replica of the toy at the Toy Fair, unfortunately, Mattel didn’t have a working model on display at the Toy Fair. If it wasn’t for the bold colors, you might think it was an oven.
When the ThingMaker comes out in the all, it will retail for $300. With a hefty price tag, it will be interesting to see if it will be one of the hot toys for Christmas 2021.
Kids design and customize their toys on the iOS or Android compatible ThingMaker app. On the app, there are 100s of templates and different body parts that kids can drag and drop to assemble their own toy. It lets kids create anything they want from dinosaurs to flowers using modular parts.
Kids can get an idea of what everything is going to look and behave like by viewing the digital representation of it on the tablet. Kids can even change the colors of the different parts.
The app is already available and customers can preorder the printer starting on Monday February 15, 2016 on Amazon.com.
When you are done, you simply tap print. Parts are printed in batches. Once the printing starts, the printer door stays automatically locked for safety reasons.
After printing the parts, you can interchange the parts and continue to play with them. The parts simply attach using ball and socket joints. It really helps connect kids from the digital to the physical space.
3D printers have been out for awhile but they are really expensive and used mostly by businesses. It hasn’t really taken off in the home, because the printers have been too slow and complicated for most home users. Mattel hopes that ThingMaker will really help 3D printers go main stream. They see it as a disruptive product in the industry.
It’s a toy, but Mattel is viewing it as more of a consumer electronics product as the target age is for boys and girls age 13 and up.
Mattel has some iconic brands in their portfolio. Will we be able to print out Barbies and Hot Wheels? ThingMaker will not be able to print out Barbie when it launches. However, Mattel and Autodesk don’t rule out being able to create them as part of their longer term strategy.