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Mattel unveils ThingMaker, a 3D printer for kids

Mattel is hoping to make at-home 3D printing more popular than ever with its new ThingMaker, 3D printing technology designed for kids. Unveiled at the New York Toy Fair, the system can be used to create everything from dolls and action figure robots to wearables like bracelets and necklaces, the company said.

ThingMaker is actually a modern reboot of Mattel's 1960s at-home plastic toy maker that has been spruced up with 3D printing technology. While the original product used to produce simple creepy crawlies, the ThingMaker 3D printing ecosystem is much more versatile.

Retro toys go high tech 01:47

"In today's digital age, it's more important to than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real," Aslan Appleman, Mattel senior director, said in a press release. "ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild. We're thrilled to work with 3D design experts at Autodesk to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to life."

The ThingMaker 3D printer will begin shipping this fall and will be priced at $300. The company is already taking pre-orders for the device on

The technology is meant to be easy to use. Families can download the ThingMaker Design App, which provides design templates for different kinds of toys. The more ambitious can come up with their own inventive designs, using hundreds of possible toy parts at their disposal. Once the design is complete, it is sent off to the ThingMaker 3D Printer, and -- voila -- each individual part is printed out and ready for assembly.

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