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Mattel is on a mission to make 3-D printing as easy as building with Legos.
At this week’s Toy Fair 2016 in New York City, the toy-making titan revealed a new 3-D “ThingMaker” printer that pumps out interlocking shapes of plastic that can be pieced together to make all sorts of “things” that kids dream up.
The device works in tandem with a special 3-D printing app from Autodesk, which kids can use on a tablet or smartphone to design their own shapes, or they can choose from pre-selected templates and characters. The new toy can then be printed using multi-colored spools of thermoplastic polylactic acid.
A press release from Mattel described how kids could use the device to create items such as “dolls, robots and dinosaurs, or wearable accessories like bracelets and necklaces.”
"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 the release. "ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild."
For those who recognize the name “ThingMaker” — it's a throwback to a popular Mattel toy from the 1960s that enabled kids to mold their own creations from a colorful pliable resin named “Plastigoop.”
The ThingMaker design app is already available for download, and Mattel's printer will be available for around $300 this fall.