Mattel’s Toy-Making Toy Goes Digital

Mattel’s ThingMaker — a toy used to make other toys — is getting some digital upgrades.

The toy manufacturer behind the ThingMaker, which first debuted in the 1960s, has announced that the device is being reconceived as the ThingMaker 3D Printer, which will work in concert with a new app called ThingMaker Design.

A press release from Mattel explains that the ThingMaker Design app will allow kids (and their parents) to select from a range of pre-loaded templates or a library of parts to spec out figures, including dolls, robots and dinosaurs, or wearable accessories, like bracelets and necklaces. The design is then sent to the ThingMaker 3D Printer, which prints parts in batches for assembly via ball-and-socket joints.

“In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real,” Aslan Appleman, senior director at Mattel, stated in the release. “ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild. We’re thrilled to work with the 3D design experts at Autodesk to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to life.”

“We’re excited to work with a storied company like Mattel 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,” Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager of the digital manufacturing group at Autodesk, commented in the release. “Creativity begins with inspiring the individual. The ThingMaker ecosystem makes building your own creations not only possible but more intuitive for young creators than ever before.”

ThingMaker 3D Printer is scheduled for a fall 2016 release at an expected suggested retail price of $299.99; pre-orders began yesterday (Feb. 15) on Amazon. The ThingMaker Design app, which the press release states also works with other printers, is currently available as a free download for iOS and Android devices.


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