The View-Master isn’t the only toy that Mattel is giving a millennial makeover. The classic ThingMaker from the 60s is being reimagined to become a $300 3D printer and will be available in the market by October 15th this year.
The original ThingMaker featured dozens of die-cast molds where kids could pour Mattel’s Plastigoop thermoplastic. With it, they could create Creepy Crawlers and other single-piece shapes. If they used Gobble De-goop, it meant they could make Incredible Edibles that could safely be eaten.
You can watch the old commercial below:
Fast forward to 2016 where Mattel fuses a filament fabrication machine that can print layer upon layer of thermopolymer to create an object. The thermopolymer filament comes in numerous colors in reels that attach to the 3D printer.
Using Mattel’s exclusive Design App, which can be opened on Android or iOS devices, kids can upload their designs and then print the parts needed. Once printing is completed, they can assemble the parts to form a toy via ball-and-socket joints.
The app, based on Autodesk’s Spark, allows kids to browse through templates or assemble their own customized creation using parts offered in loadable files. The open 3D printing platform offering extensible APIs for each stage of the 3D printing workflow based on open architecture, so the app will also work with other 3D printers.
"It should help to unlock the creative juices of our youth in a way that we have not seen in the past. Over a period of years, it could even help to reinvigorate careers in design and manufacturing here in the U.S.," says Terry Wohlers, founder and principal analyst at industry research firm Wohlers Associates.
It’s unclear whether the process is as simple as Mattel would like consumers to believe (we have to wait until October to find out), but it's certainly a big step toward making 3D printing accessible to the children.