Will 3D Systems Transform Hasbro's "Transformers" Toys With 3-D Printing?

Back in February, I brought Foolish readers news that 3-D printing juggernaut 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) and toy giant Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS  )  announced plans to "co-develop and commercialize innovative play 3-D printers and platforms" later this year.

Since then, there's been no additional news released from either company, though it appears that they are plowing away on their plans. Hasbro rather quietly filed a trademark application for "ALLSPARK" in May and listed three broad groups of 3-D printing applications in the filing:

Computer software for creating, designing, modifying, customizing, sharing and saving computer generated representations capable of being printed by a three dimensional printer to create physical objects, namely, jewelry, ornaments, arts objects, artifacts, household goods, toys, games, hobby models, accessories, office products, and various other consumer products.

Custom prototype fabrication via three dimensional printing for others of new parts, components and models for others, namely, jewelry, ornaments, arts objects, artifacts, household goods, toys, games, hobby models, accessories, office products, and various other consumer products.

Providing a website featuring technology that enables users to download, modify, and share three-dimensional designs on the Internet for use with computer driven machines for making three-dimensional embodiments of the designs; providing online computer games and interactive multiplayer online games via global networks.

Source: Hasbro

Could 3-D printing transform the Transformers this holiday season?
I don't think any of the three broad categories named in the trademark application will come as much surprise to investors in 3D Systems or those following the 3-D printing space. The interesting piece of information here is the trademark name itself. According to Wikipedia, a "Spark" is the soul of a Transformer, and the "Allspark" is "made up of every Spark that ever was, and every Spark that ever will be." 

So, there appears to be no doubt that Hasbro's popular Transformers line of toys is set to be transformed by 3-D printing. This choice makes sense, given that the Transformers franchise -- which consists of comic books, animation, video games, and films, as well as toys -- is not only very popular, but also has a considerable "techie" story line. And 3-D printing, at least so far, is largely appealing to consumers who have techie and creative bents. 

The announcement back in February said 3D Systems and Hasbro were co-developing and commercializing innovative play 3-D printers and platforms later this year. So, it seems there could be a possibility that the Transformers could be transformed by 3-D printing for the 2014 holiday season. 

I'd imagine that we'll soon be hearing from 3D Systems -- the company is hardly publicity shy -- on what its role will be with ALLSPARK. It seems likely that 3D Systems will be developing and manufacturing an entirely new line of 3-D printers for the Hasbro collaboration, though expanding its Cube line to include a Hasbro co-branded printer is also a possibility.

Foolish final thoughts
Certainly, "play 3-D printers" should appeal to some families interested in providing play experiences for their children that are both fun and educational. The 3D Systems/Hasbro partnership has the potential to help 3-D printing make faster inroads into the consumer market, which could be a positive for investors in both companies.

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9/4/2015 4:00 PM
DDD $12.72 Down -0.31 -2.38%
3D Systems CAPS Rating: ****
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Hasbro CAPS Rating: ****