Mattel Recruits Your Inner Child With $300 ThingMaker 3D Printer For Designing And Creating Toys

Had you been a child in the 1960s, you might remember something called the ThingMaker, a do-it-yourself toy creation kit from Mattel that came out decades before 3D printing would itself become a thing. In that respect, it was an idea well ahead of its time, so Mattel is bringing it back as a reimagined product for the modern era

This time around, the relaunched ThingMaker is a pre-assembled 3D printer that's purportedly quick and easy to setup and use—just plug it in, wirelessly link it to the ThingMaker Design app developed by AutoDesk (it's available free of charge for both iOS and Android devices), and push a button to export your files.

Mattel Thingmaker

"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," said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Digital Manufacturing Group, Autodesk. "Creativity begins with inspiring the individual. The ThingMaker eco-system makes building your own creations not only possible, but more intuitive for young creators than ever before."

Like many 3D printers, the ThingMaker uses different colored spools of PLA (Polyactic Acid) filament. When printing, the printer door automatically locks to prevent kids from reaching inside. After it's finished printing a toy, the heated print head retracts into a recess where little hands and fingers can't reach it.

ThingMaker App

Mattel deserves kudos for branching out of what might be its comfort zone and thrusting itself into the maker movement. It's a category that's growing in popularity, but isn't quite mainstream yet, which tends to scare away big companies from participating. Part of the reason why 3D printing isn't mainstream is because it's not a cheap hobby—3D printers can run several thousands of dollars.

The ThingMaker won't be quite as pricey—it will sell for $300, with Amazon accepting pre-orders later today.