Mattel has announced an affordable 3D printer that will allow children to create their own toys and action figures.
The $300 (around £207) ThingMaker, revealed at the New York Toy fair at the weekend, will enable kids to design their own toys using a companion app.
The ThingMaker Design app, which is the product of a partnership with Autodesk, can be used with Mattel’s printer or others on the market.
The app has built in templates and is designed to lower the entry level for 3D printing. By employing a simple visual interface that even younger children can master it without too many problems.
Toy designers will be able to choose from all manner of parts and pieces and alter textures and colours to their specification. Everything can be rotated and viewed in 3D space to give an impression of how it’ll look in real life.
When the custom designs are complete, files can be exported as STL files and sent directly to the ThinkMaker printer itself.
All parts are connected by ball and socket joints and, depending on the size of the toy, printing can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours to complete.
As hinted when the Autodesk-powered app was announced last year, Mattel may choose to leverage its Hot Wheels and Barbie franchises with future design materials.
The ThingMaker first arrived in the 1960s and featured plastic molds that enabled users to create items by pouring heated materials into the molds and waiting for them to cool.
A spokesperson for Mattel (via TechCrunch) said: “In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real.
“ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild.”
It will be available to pre-order from Amazon from today, but will not go on sale until the autumn.