Design-focused software company Autodesk is teaming up with toy manufacturer Mattel to create a “new immersive experience” bridging the physical and virtual divide with 3D printing.

The new partnership will herald the launch of a range of new apps that will let users “design and customize” their own toys and see them through to creation, according to a press release.

Today’s news comes two months after Mattel — famous for global brands such as Fisher-Price, Barbie, and Matchbox — partnered with Google to reimagine the View-Master for the digital era. Indeed, it’s clear that Mattel is pushing hard to position itself at the forefront of digital innovation, and with Autodesk now on board — a company that’s investing big in 3D printing — it’s in good company.

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass recently opined that 3D printing in the home is overhyped, something that is seemingly at odds with its latest tie-up with Mattel. However, while details of what the partnership will involve are still sparse, it seems that users won’t be required to buy their own 3D printer — toys can be created in a dedicated facility elsewhere and shipped to the buyer.

For Autodesk, it will use the Mattel deal to help sell the benefits of its open 3D printing platform, Spark, while offering “hands-on design experiences to support an interactive learning environment through fun apps so that kids can also learn while they play,” the company said.

We’ve seen a slew of initiatives that merge the physical and digital realms of late — a couple of weeks ago, Warner Bros. announced Lego Dimensions, a Lego-based hybrid of toys and video games. Players can buy Lego pieces that are used to build characters and other “things” that appear in the game.

Autodesk says the first of the Mattel apps will debut in the second half of 2015, alongside a new dedicated 3D printing hub.


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