In 1964, Mattel introduced the first ever ThingMaker, which was more popularly known as “Creepy Crawlers”. The ability to cook up, literally, toys of your own, albeit limited to said crawlers, might have been too far ahead of its time. Mattel was believed to have axed the product due to the fact that it required kids to work with miniature furnaces. Thanks to advancements in technology, particularly 3D printing, making toys no longer need be that dangerous. And so Mattel saw it fit to revive the ThingMaker, but now as a child-friendly 3D printer and app instead.
This is hardly the first time someone has thought up of creating toys via 3D printers. In fact, this isn’t even the first time Mattel’s name has come up in the topic. April last year, Autodesk revealed that it has joined up with Mattel precisely for this very purpose. And now we’re seeing the fruit of that partnership in the ThingMaker “v2”.
The 3D printing ecosystem works like any of its kind you see today, the difference being that the entire system is, naturally, child-friendly. Kids and parents can browse through a catalog of pre-made templates to print out. Or they can let their imaginations run wild by printing out just parts instead and combining them through simple ball and socket joints. From dolls to robots to fashion accessories, the toy maker promises to turn any household into a toy factory.
The ThingMaker 3D Printer will be available this coming Fall in the US for $299.99. Pre-orders start as early as Monday, 15th February, on Amazon. Mattel will later make available more filament color and design options. The ThingMaker app is available for free on iOS and Android and, interestingly, is advertised to work on other 3D printers as well.