The Toybox is a 3D printer that lets your child print toys from an app with the touch of a button. Kids can also draw their own toys, print it and save the design for later.
“Mommyyy! Mommyyyyyy!! Mommyyyyyyyyy!!! I want that toy, mommy!!!”
Sam scuttles into a busy shopping center, her little one flapping this way and that behind her, stuck to Sam’s hem by a fist. Sam grabs a squeaky trolley and forces her way through the shopping crowd, gripping the handle as if to assure the trolley that lack of cooperation will lead to a junkyard death.
Other shoppers notice the determination etched into her face and scurry when she approaches.
Through months of practice, she’s perfected her movement through the supermarket. She’s minimized her little one’s eye contact with toys so well that she hardly sees any.
Sam reaches the last aisle of the shop. She needs one loaf of bread and a bar of butter. It’s the home stretch. So far it’s been a smooth run. A victorious smirk forms on her face. She’s outsmarted those hell-bound marketers again.
She turns the corner and screams to a halt a few inches from a stand filled with dolls wearing bright dresses.
She casts her eyes down to her little one. It’s too late! Her eyes have turned misty. A guttural moan urges a drop of drool from her mouth.
It’s as though her precious little daughter is possessed, trapped! Again!
Like a moth to a flame, she moves towards the stand, her arms stretched out, hands clawing at the rainbow of colors.
Sam presses her hands to her ears, knowing what’s to come. She drops her head in defeat, convinced she can hear the shop manager cackling from his office.
Ah, the joys of parenthood.
That’s a dreadful scenario familiar to many parents.
MakeToys wants to take the pain out of toy shopping by removing shopping from the equation altogether. They want kids to print their own toys using the Toybox 3D printer.
Let’s take a look…
What is the Toybox?
Toybox is a desktop 3D printer packaged and marketed as the perfect tool for kids to make their own toys with.
3D printers have gained momentum in many circles over the last few years.
It’s not new technology, but desktop 3D printers have brought considerable attention to the additive manufacturing niche.
In all honesty, I’ve always struggled to see the viability of 3D printing tech for everyday use, the reason being that a 3D printer cannot meet demand the same way plastic injection molding can.
3D printers are not made for mass production.
There’s nothing wrong with 3D printing. There’s a place for it, but the way some media outlets have touted the advantages of 3D printing, they made it sound like everyone and his chum should own a 3D printing machine.
But MakeToys’ angle on 3D printing is ingenious. Their printer, combined with an app that lets you choose from hundreds of toys and print with the press of a button, is an amazing way to put 3D printing tech to good use.
It’s one of the few cases where I’ve seen a 3D printer make sense.
How does it work?
A 3D printing machine melts plastic and forces it through a nozzle. This nozzle is computer numerically controlled and builds a part of your choice, layer by layer, on a stationary bed.
Forgive my poor description of what a 3D printing machine does. Please read the Wikipedia entry on 3D printing to learn more.
3D printing works in an opposite manner from a milling machine or a lathe, which use subtractive manufacturing methods. They remove material from a block of steel, wood, plastic or other material.
3D printing is an additive manufacturing method. Instead of removing material, it creates things by ADDING material.
What sets MakeToys’ 3D printer apart is their plug-and-play approach. Their machine plugs in, pairs with the Toybox app and has you printing toys in no time.
Inside the app you choose from hundreds of toys to print. They keep adding toys, by the way.
The app also gives you access to your own designs for reprinting.
Easy to use
Get printing in six easy steps:
- Download the Toybox app for your Android device or iPhone / iPad.
- Plug in your Toybox 3D printer at a wall outlet.
- Load the Toybox with a printing material cartridge.
- Switch on the printer.
- Connect your printer to the Toybox app via WiFi.
- Open the app, choose a toy and start printing.
Hundreds of toys
The Toybox’s catalog contains more than 500 toys to choose from.
MakeToys keeps expanding the Toybox inventory with new toys. Your child won’t run out of toys to print.
Draw your own toys
If your child DOES print every single toy in the catalog and wants to do more, she can draw her own shapes in the app and send it to the 3D printer.
Best of all, the Toybox saves personal designs to the cloud for later access.
Imagine your child rocking up at school with a 3D printed project.
She can print a mini town, with cars and people, using the Toybox.
This is the sort of thing that makes a child stand out among her peers.
On their website there’s a testimonial by Rodrigo Mayen, who says the following about the Toybox:
Toybox is not only a fantastic toy but also a state-of-the-art 3D printer that can be used by professionals
This needs to be qualified, because not all professionals will find the Toybox useful. Some will see it as a toy, and nothing more.
A few years ago I designed a tool for speeding up my lure making activities and had the parts printed on a MakerBot 3D printer.
It was a cheap operation. They didn’t charge me much.
But the outcome was a disaster. The machine didn’t come close to providing the tolerances my tool required.
I contacted two professional 3D printing companies, and they quoted me thousands for the same tool. The high tolerance 3D printing was 25 times more expensive than what the MakerBot owner charged me.
I couldn’t afford it, but from previous exposure to a high tolerance printed part some 15 years before, I knew the finished product would have been far superior.
The difference between high tolerance 3D printers and entry-level desktop 3D printers is vast.
The Toybox offers a good enough resolution to allow your children to make beautiful, useful toys.
They make the printing material, or “food,” from a corn-based, biodegradable PLA plastic.
The entry level Toybox package comes with one roll of printer food, 73.152m (240 ft) long.
Makes hundreds of toys
MakeToys claims that a single roll of printing material makes between 100 and 300 toys. Output is dependent on the size of the toys.
Once the Toybox starts shipping, MakeToys will introduce more than 20 printer food colors.
The machine’s color
The Toybox comes in one color: white. MakeToys gives no indication that they’ll be making the Toybox printer in more colors.
Does it work with a battery?
The Toybox works with electricity. You plug it into a wall outlet. There’s nothing to charge.
Care and maintenance
Don’t drop the Toybox and don’t spill water on it. This will render the Toybox useless and send you back to supermarket aisle toy nagging hell.
MakeToys offers a six month warranty against manufacturer defects.
This, from their website:
Refunds are processed on a case-by-case basis; at some point we will need to lock refunds in order to go into production & shipment. We will not be able to refund orders once they’ve shipped.
3D printing is nothing new, and the Toybox seems to work in the same manner as other desktop 3D printers.
What makes it a must-consider 3D printer is their pairing of the printer with an app featuring an easy-to-use catalog of toys that allows a child to print with the touch of a button.
The Toybox 3D printer is the iPhone of 3D printers. All the bells and whistles, with none of the hassle.
As someone with a background in manufacturing, and who has owned a CNC machine before, I can say that this looks like a wonderful introduction to CNC machining.
Check out the Toybox. It might just be the toy to end all toy shopping.