Don’t like any of the toys in your closet? Just make your own. In a move that could motivate either incredible creativity or some serious playground envy (hey, maybe both), Mattel has introduced a $300 3D printer that will let you design and print plastic figurines entirely of your own making. It’s actually a resuscitation of a 50-year-old project, when Mattel’s original ThingMaker invited children to similarly create novel toys by pouring plastic into molds. But in the style of 21st centuries boundlessness, we’ve bid adieu to any and all constrictions and restrictions — so 3D print away, friends. Your mind is your limit.
The reimagined ThingMaker pairs with an iOS and Android app that allows its users to first “sketch” out how the toy will appear before sending their rendering via Wi-Fi to the relatively low-cost printer. Toyland reports that the app will come pre-loaded with a few basic designs like rings, necklaces, dinosaurs, and skeletons, but kids and adults alike will be able to stretch their imaginations by creating new toys that combine different parts. In addition to a lesson in design thinking, there’s a bit of engineering involved — new parts will connect by way of basic ball-and-socket joints, so really, it’s as educational as it is fun.
“In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real,” said Aslan Appleman, senior director at Mattel, in a statement. “ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play.”
Indeed, the ThingMaker encourages its users to dream bigger and bolder — printing processes can take anywhere from 30 minutes for a basic toy (or part to a larger structure), to between six and eight hours. In order to prevent children from injuring themselves during the printing process, the ThingMaker’s door will lock automatically when it’s in use, but to stoke the creative fires, the clear door will allow users to observe the entire process (if they have that kind of patience).
Sadly, you won’t be able to get your hands on one of these awesome toys (or rather, toy makers), until the fall, but pre-orders on Amazon opened up today. So don’t settle for the toys on the market — create your own with Mattel’s ThingMaker.