New York Toy Fair 2016 left a big impression on the technology scene thanks to the new innovations that appeared over the last five years. Where virtual reality and 3D printing, two major aspects that gained popularity in recent months, are made for big boys, Mattel has made them accessible to kids.
It had been at the New York Toy Fair that Mattel revealed two new innovation-powered toys for kids to dabble with and, hopefully, inspire them to get into related fields that gave birth to these two platforms.
The two – Mattel View-Master VR Headset and the toymaker’s take on the ThingMaker 3D Printer – are set to pave the way for its target market to jump into VR and 3D printing hobbies with their two tiny feet.
With the former, Mattel took what it showed off last year – basically a remodeled Google Cardboard VR system – and add on improvements onto it to address all the minor areas that the original Mattel View-Master had. The changes include a variable docking plate that can accommodate smaller smartphones, a more flexible sound input system that can work with top or bottom-loading audio jacks, loading in a focus wheel that allow users to adjust the visual sharpness easily, and a more solid and robust chassis build that protects all these things. The last one is necessary to prevent unwanted situations where the case would pop open and spit out the smartphone towards its unintended doom.
Simply called the Mattel View-Master VR Viewer 2.0, which comes with an accompanying VR app, it now comes with a US$40 (~RM180) price tag and an early-2016 launch.
As for the latter, it is an easy-to-use 3D printing platform that had been developed with one thing in mind – to allow kids to make their own toys and get them involved with the entire end-to-end process. In using the original ‘handing over the keys to the toy factory’ moniker, Mattel has brought back its iconic ThingMaker and remade it for the wants and whims of the 21st Century. In using the accompanying ThingMaker Design App, families can explore Mattel templates or make their own and start printing out parts to assemble their own, made safe-for-kids, toys.
Mattel plans to release this 3D printing system for kids in Q3 2016 with an asking price of US$299.99 (~RM1,200). The set, which is now open for pre-orders on Amazon.com, includes the 3D printer, a variety of filament colour options, and additional design content materials from third-party partners. Just so the ecosystem can expand rapidly, Mattel has made the ThingMaker Design app, which is free for download on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, open enough that it can work with other 3D printers.