Toy maker Mattel is resurrecting the ThingMaker for the 21st Century. Instead of using molds to shape plastic goop, the new ThingMaker is a $300 (about RM1200) 3D printer designed for kids to use. Naturally, it looks like adults will get as much mileage out of the “toy” as children; especially since it is able to work without the need of a computer.
Mattel’s ThingMaker uses standard Polyactic Acid (PLA) filament as its material, which is pretty much the same stuff used by every other 3D printer. There’s no word on whether Mattel will be selling its own refills, but it is assumed that people will be able to source their own PLA when the bundled amount runs out.
What makes the ThingMaker particularly interesting is that it works through a mobile app (which is already available on Android and iOS). Designing new toys works by dragging and dropping a variety of pre-determined parts and connecting them together. The action figures greatly resemble Lego Bionicle toys, mostly because of the ball joint options and skeletal aesthetics. There is also the option to print jewelry, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds with the variety of pieces offered in the app.
Low cost 3D printers are not entirely a new thing, and there are others that ship around that price. The deal here is that Mattel is building something designed for children (the company rates it at 13 and above) to learn about 3D printing; or for parents who want an excuse to buy a 3D printer for the house.
Mattel isn’t sure about the distribution of the ThingMaker just yet. It is planning to release the device in the fall, and pre-orders are already up on Amazon. There is no word if this thing will be appearing on toy store shelves, but it might interesting to see it sitting in Toys R Us next to Hot Wheels or Barbie.
[Source: USA Today]