Barbie and Hot Wheels might not just be available in stores, as one of the leaders in 3D software is coming together with one of the leaders in toys to make 3D printing something kids will fall in love with.

Parents, too, actually, as Autodesk joins forces with Mattel, announcing that the two will be making some apps to let families with a 3D printer make their own toys in the future, customising toys and printing them into the real world.

“Autodesk is dedicated to providing powerful, yet easy-to-use 3D design and 3D printing apps to unlock the creativity in everyone,” said Samir Hanna, Vice President and General Manager of Consumer and 3D Printing at Autodesk.

“Partnering with an iconic brand like Mattel provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate how Spark, our open 3D printing platform, can help create amazing experiences that bridge the digital and physical worlds and push the boundaries of creative play.”

This isn’t an example of a Mattel toy. Rather, it’s an owl we printed during a 3D printer review. OWL!!!

At the moment, we’re told that the apps will come later this year — second half of the year — and there will even be an online hub to find projects that you can print from, though the toy ranges have yet to be announced.

We’re suspecting Barbie will be a part of it, potentially allowing you to make new hats and other things for the characters to wear, and we might even see different bodies for Hot Wheel cars, too.

As for the sort of printer you should get, we suspect this will be fairly open to other 3D printers, but a representative for Autodesk told GadgetGuy that it “has partnerships with MakerBot and Dremel, and its free 123D design apps are well suited for use with these printers, but there are a number of good 3D printing options on the market today that parents can choose from.”

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Alternatively, Autodesk has its own 3D printer, the “Ember” (above), which edges closer to the $6,000 mark in the US, and will likely go for more locally.

Currently, 3D printers aren’t cheap, with the lowest price modes fetching at least $700 locally from places like Kogan, though you can find various other devices from Officeworks and online retailers.

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XYZ Printing’s Da Vinci All-in-One includes both a printer and 3D scanner… so you don’t have to wait to clone your Barbie dolls. In theory, anyway. 

Despite this relatively high cost of entry to the 3D world, partnerships like this one between Mattel and Autodesk will only give people more reason to enter 3D printing, much like with Sesame Street’s collaboration with Makerbot from last year, and these can only be good long term, especially if it brings down the cost of 3D printers for everyone else.