Toybox 3D Printer Review | PCMag


The Toybox 3D printer, a budget-friendly 3D printer for children, lives up to its name – it easily generates many small toys. (It starts at $ 329; we tested the $ 389 Deluxe Pack described below.) It delivers reliable one-touch printing of simple objects from an iOS or Android device or browser. Web, with solid print quality and no printing errors in our testing. The Toybox lets you choose from over 2,000 printable objects or projects, or you can import 3D files created elsewhere. You can even draw objects to print. Its most important flaw is its small print area, but in printing items from the Toybox catalog, this is not a limiting factor. This rare 3D printer – rare because it’s closer to infallible than most – wins an Editors’ Choice award for low-budget 3D printing. Additionally, we have seen the heavily discounted packs sold direct from Toybox.


A 3D printer designed for children

A few months ago, I started seeing a flurry of ads online for the Toybox 3D printer, a children’s 3D printer. I contacted the manufacturer, Toybox Labs, based in California, who loaned us the test unit used for this review. The Toybox is intended for children aged 5 and over, and adult supervision is recommended for children. According to Toybox Labs, the printer is designed for entertainment and ease of use.

You can trust our reviews

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better purchasing decisions. (Read our editorial mission.)

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The White Open Frame Toybox is tiny for a 3D printer, measuring only 9.1 x 7.4 x 7.4 inches (HWD). Some other “compact” 3D printers we’ve reviewed, such as the Polaroid PlaySmart 3D printer (12.6 x 10.6 x 11.8 inches) and the MakerBot Replicator Mini (15 x 11.6 x 12.2 inches) ), seem large in comparison. Only the now discontinued M3D Micro, a cube measuring 7.3 inches across, was smaller.

The Toybox’s build area – 3.5 x 3.1 x 2.8 inches – is just as small. The Replicator Mini (3.9 x 3.9 x 4.9 inches) has a slightly larger build area; few printers have almost this small print area. All of this means that it is limited to printing small toys or small pieces of larger toys.

Printer setup is a snap. You attach the “printer food holder” (aka the spool of filament) to the back of the Toybox and place a spool of “printer food” (PLA filament) on the holder. Then you put the flexible and magnetic print bed in place on the print platform.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

When you plug in the printer for the first time and turn it on, a message will appear on its LCD screen, guiding you to a page to download the Toybox app. (Versions of the app are available for iOS and Android.) Once the app is installed, you create a free Toybox account and synchronize your device with the printer. (A name starting with “Toybox” should appear on your list of available wireless networks.) You will enter a six-digit code that appears on the Toybox’s LCD screen into your mobile device to authenticate the connection.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)


I tested the Toybox app on an iPhone 11 Pro. (You can use an iPhone or Android device, or launch prints from the Toybox site in your browser after entering your account information.) The Toybox app interface gives you several options listed in low. Explore, the default, allows you to browse or search for toys or collections in the Toybox catalog. For each, it gives you an estimate of how long the print job will take in minutes. By tapping on a toy, you get information about the object and its creator. Pressing the Print Me button starts the print job. It’s that simple.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Create option offers you several choices of activities to do in what is called the Creator Space. Under Apps, for example, you can create Block Buddies, printable human figures that you design, by selecting their hair style and color, facial features, skin color, and the style and color of various clothes. When you’re done, you give your Block Buddy a name and save it. You will see your Block Buddies every time you open the app.

Toybox 3D printer

Example screens of the application interface, from left to right

Tap on a Block Buddy in the app and you’ll see a list of components that need to be printed for you to assemble. You can print all parts of one color, change spools of filament, print more in another color, and keep changing until the parts are complete. Then you can put them together.

The Build a Car app works the same way – you can design a car by adding features and color to it. Under Draw, you can create a drawing or doodle and 3D print it. Another feature, Image, allows you to import a photo to be rendered in 3D for printing. You can’t do full justice to a 3D image that’s converted from a single two-dimensional photo, of course, but Toybox does a believable job. Cool stuff.

Toybox 3D printer

Finally, you can import an existing 3D file in STL, OBJ, 3MF or GCODE formats. I tried importing a GCODE file, but it turned out to be too large. GCODE files contain printing instructions relevant to the printer for which it was originally formatted (in a program such as Cura). You might be better off working with a format like STL, which hasn’t been “sliced” for printing.


The print bed and the filament

The Toybox’s print bed shouldn’t need to be upgraded – I didn’t adjust it at all while using it. If the printer needs to be calibrated (the troubleshooting section of the Toybox Help Resources describes several situations in which this may be desirable), you turn a screw on the back of the build platform using it. ‘an Allen key.

Removing a printed object from the print bed, which is often a headache in 3D printers, couldn’t be easier than with the Toybox. You remove the bed – which is magnetically glued to the print platform – from the printer with the object still seated on it. You then gently flex the bed once or twice and the object pulls out easily. Put the print bed back on the platform and you are ready to print again.

In terms of the filament carrier, the Toybox is a PLA printer only, which is a suitable choice for a printer aimed at children. It is safe – neither the printed objects nor the (minimal) fumes it can give off during printing are toxic – and relatively easy to work with. Toybox sells standard half-pound spools of PLA in a variety of colors for $ 10 each, and specialty filaments such as shiny and sparkly varieties for $ 14 a spool. This price is good; for example, MakerBot sells standard half-pound spools for its Replicator printers for $ 19, and you can get them for a few dollars less from retailers.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Based on Toybox’s selling price to date ($ 249 for the base pack, $ 299 for the Deluxe), the so-called Toybox Deluxe Bundle (the printer plus eight standard spools of different colors) costs $ 50. more than the Starter Bundle (the printer plus a standard spool). So in essence with the Deluxe package you get two reels for free. (The difference is $ 60 if you look at list prices.)

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

And trust us: you will be want filaments in different colors, as many of the canned projects that Toybox offers involve printing multiple pieces and combining them, and often varying the colors of the pieces can enhance the toy or item.


A treasure trove of gears and creepy things

I printed 10 test objects, all from the Toybox catalog. They all printed successfully the first time, with no typos or major errors. The overall print quality was average for a filament 3D printer. Some prints looked a bit coarse, often with a stringy texture on top, and many had loose filament tails that needed to be cut or removed. Still, the quality was pretty solid – you can rest assured that the Toybox can print things that a child (or an adult, for that matter) will love.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Tony Hoffman)

Better yet, a good percentage of the objects in the Toybox catalog have moving parts: the wheels spin, a cube unfolds, the gears spin and mesh, the legs move. For the most part these types of objects are printed pre-assembled, in one pass, although with the gears I had to print them separately and then put them together. My favorites are the multi-segment reptiles, which have imprinted the individual segments bound together, providing both flexibility and strength – at least I haven’t accidentally split one yet (and I don’t have the heart to dismember one, even as a stress test).

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Tony Hoffman)


Fun for kids of all ages

The Toybox 3D printer is a great choice as a 3D printer for kids. In my testing, it provided reliable, error-free printing of a variety of objects, many of which included hinges or other moving parts. I was very impressed with these delicious and ingenious toys. That said, the overall print quality is just average, as befits a printer with a maximum resolution of 200 microns. And its small print area is the main drawback of the Toybox.

Toybox 3D printer

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Toybox includes a wide selection of toys and projects in its so-called catalog, and allows young (or not so young) designers to create and print their own creations, drawn by hand or from photos, in its Space. Creator. You can import 3D printable files, but it can get tricky and you’re limited to the Toybox’s small build volume.

The Toybox might not be a good substitute for a classic hobbyist 3D printer, but it’s a wonderful and quite successful device in its own right. It’s meant to provide hours of creative entertainment for kids and the adults who support them, and it’s a clear choice as a budget Editor’s Choice 3D printer for young people.

Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.","first_published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z","published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z","last_published_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:08.000000Z","created_at":null,"updated_at":"2021-09-30T21:24:30.000000Z"})" x-show="showEmailSignUp()" class="rounded bg-gray-lightest text-center md:px-32 md:py-8 p-4 font-brand mt-8 container-xs">
Do you like what you read ?

Register for Laboratory report to get the latest reviews and best product advice delivered straight to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, offers or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of use and Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time.