ThingMaker Reinvented as 3D Printer Toy Creator 

Mattel is adding modern technology to do-it-yourself (DIY) toy from the 1960s called the ThingMaker. While the original toy involved pouring liquid plastic into molds, the new version uses 3D printing technology. Mattel partnered with Autodesk—the company best known for AutoCAD design software—to revive the 50 year-old toy. The team that worked on the project says it could be disruptive technology because kids will be able to use the ThingMaker to print their own customized toys on demand at home.

While the ThingMaker may eventually be able to print Mattel’s iconic toys, such as Hot Wheels or Barbie, the printer also targets the maker movement—a tech-influenced DIY community. It will join a growing list of educational toys that encourage kids to have fun while they practice fundamental engineering design skills. Kids will use an app on tablets or smartphones to plan their own creations. The app has templates and modular parts that users can drag and drop to assemble their custom toys online.

“All the physical behaviors are as it would be when it was actually printed out, so you can get an idea for how it is going to mechanically move and what the limits of all the joints and sockets that you create are,” Dan Pressman, creative director at Autodesk, told USA Today. When they are ready to print, the designs will be sent to the printer, the door will automatically lock, and the retractable print head will use PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament, the same material that is commonly used by 3D printers.

The new high-tech version of the ThingMaker is expected to come out in October, 2016, but Amazon is already accepting pre-orders for the toy, which sells for $300. Pre-sales just opened on February 13, and Amazon already lists it as a “#1 Best Seller” in the action figures category.

Source: USA Today

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