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Mattel is one of the biggest toy makers in the world. You might think that a company this size would have some trouble with children making their own toys at home instead of buying one from their extensive line.
You might think that Mattel would prefer children buy the toys the company makes, but Mattel used to sell a toy called the ThingMaker. Launched in the 1960s, ThingMaker let kids use plastic molds to set Plastigoop, which they would then bake, to make their own toys.
And now, Mattel has re-imagined the ThingMaker as a 3D printer for children. They presented the concept with collaborator Autodesk at the New York Toy Fair, announcing that the impressive device will be available by pre-order on Amazon at an equally impressive $299.99, starting today, February 15, 2016.
“We’re excited to work with a storied company like Mattel,” comments Autodesk Vice President Samir Hanna. “To develop an app that bridges the digital and physical worlds and brings new forms of making to the next generation of designers and engineers.”
Michael Nunez of Gizmodo explains that Mattel partnered with the software company in order to ensure that the app would be fast and easy to use; perhaps most importantly, that the app would not crash. Unfortunately, this is often the case with lesser quality toys [which require an app].
But, this app is not successful not only because it is efficient with ThingMaker, but also because it is versatile. He remarks that since Autodesk designed the software, it can actually work with other 3D printers on the market as well. Of course, that probably will not matter for most people who would be interested in ThingMaker 3D because other 3D printer models are nowhere near as affordable as this, and any of those which may be similarly affordable, probably won’t be of the best quality.
He goes on to provide more benefits about ThingMaker 3D too, saying, “You can pick different colors for different parts of the toy you’re printing out, and you can also customize new toys using simple ball-and-socket joints that are printed on many of the pieces.”
Dan Pressman, creative director for Autodesk, similarly comments, “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.”