3Doodler: Robosumo review — A 3D printing pen for kids

I love all things to do with 3D printing, from the building of the machines down to the cool colors the plastic comes in. It was no surprise then that I was asked to write about a fun little 3D gadget for kids called the 3Doodler Robosumo. 3Doodler has been around a while now, making some excellent 3D pens for adult and kids. The Robosumo set has a few little extras that make it even more fun than normal.

What you'll love about the 3Doodler Robosumo

The premise behind the Robosumo playset is that use your special 3D pen and filament to build a body around the small vibrating base, then battle them in a Sumo ring to see who will emerge the victor! The 3D pen itself is based on the 3Doodler Start pen, but with an excellent clear case that you see the inner workings of the machine.

Because of the low melting point, the 3Doodler plastic can be scraped off easily allowing you to reuse the sumo motors with little mess.

The pen itself is simple. It has a few lithium batteries, a heating element, and a motor. The heater warms up the plastic that you put the back of the pen, and then the motor drives it through the nozzle on the end. The great thing about the 3Doodler Start is the heat required to melt the plastic is incredibly low — under 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celcius — so even if your child touches the nozzle or the plastic coming out of it, they won't get burnt. My little boy, Joshua, was happy to prove this with the gif you see here. "It's warm but not as hot as a hot chocolate" was his response to the plastic on his finger.

Because of the low melting point, the plastic can also be manipulated by hand to make smoother models and to help push the plastic into the little molds the kit comes with. These molds made creating robots much easier. We could be creative if we wanted to, designing parts on the spot, but if our inspiration failed us, we had the molds to fall back on. It gave us a chance to make a Robosumo that had some hope of standing up!

While the pen itself is pretty chunky — Josh did have some problems holding like a pen, but it was fine for my ham fists — the addition of the batteries makes a huge difference. I don't think the 3Doodler would be as much fun without the freedom wireless use gives you. There is a little bit of a learning curve when using the 3Doodler, but nothing too difficult. You will want to fill small areas of the mold then push the plastic in to fill in the gaps. The plastic comes out in a thin stream, and if we didn't push it in all the way, it wouldn't look nice at all. Once we had the idea down, we were modeling different robot parts with ease.

Because of the low melting point of the plastic, the 3Doodler plastic can be scraped off easily, allowing you to reuse the sumo motors easily with little mess. This adds to the value and replayability of the set. At $50 the Robosumo set is the same price as the standard 3Doodler Start but with the inclusion of extra motors and molds has a lot of added value.

What you'll dislike about the 3Doodler Robosumo

Because of the low melting point of the plastic, the 3Doodler can only use the special plastic that comes directly from 3Doodler. This erks me, as I am used to a more open ecosystem in 3D printing. The plastic is not hugely expensive — around $25 for a six-pack — but it can only be bought through them, with no third-party support, and there isn't a lot of color options right now. I would like to see more color ranges come in the future. Perhaps some sparkly plastic would be good?

The 3Doodler Robosumo set is an excellent way to get young kids into 3D design and being creative in general.

The other issue is filament related too. There just isn't enough of it when you first open the box. Josh and I used about half of the supplied plastic on our first go with the pen, and then the rest the next day. If you are looking to pick this up for a group of children, then I would seriously consider picking up an extra pack of plastic to go with it.

Should you buy the 3Doodler Robosumo?

I really enjoyed using the 3Doodler with Josh. We had a lot of fun learning how to make the most of the molds, and the fact that we could manipulate the warm plastic with how hands. If you have a small child around seven to eleven years old, the 3Doodler Robosumo is an excellent way to get them into 3D design and being creative in general.

If you have older kids or you want to make more detailed art then perhaps the 3Doodler Create+ would be right for you, it's a little more technical and allows for more varied plastics. But for the smallest of your family, the 3Doodler is an excellent starting point. Grab one for your kiddos for just $50

James Bricknell

James built his first PC when he was 13 and has never looked back. He can be found on Windows Central, usually in the corner where all the 3D printers are, or huddled around the Xbox playing the latest games.