A toy replicator for kids!

Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space cover

After being in print for twenty years, the Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space, covering everything that was learned on every single space mission in the 20th century, has finally gone out of print.

I presently have my last four hardback copies available for sale. The book sold new for about $90. To get your own autographed copy of this now rare collector's item, please send a $120 check (which includes shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

"Useful to space buffs and generalists, comprehensive but readable, Bob Zimmerman's Encyclopedia belongs front and center on everyone's bookshelf." -- Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut


"The Chronological Encylopedia of Discoveries in Space is no passionless compendium of information. Robert Zimmerman's fact-filled reports, which cover virtually every spacecraft or probe to have ventured into the heavens, relate the scientific and technical adventure of space exploration enthusiastically and with authority." -- American Scientist

Mattel is bringing back an old toy, Thingmaker, but the new version will be a 3D printer for kids.

After wirelessly linking the 3D printer to a mobile device running the ThingMaker Design App for iOS or Android, users decide whether they want to create a toy figure or jewelry, with the option to print ready-designed toys, or mix and match from hundreds of parts which can be popped together after printing thanks to ball and socket joints. After designing their creation, users simply push a button to start printing.

Features of the ThingMaker 3D printer which make it more suitable for children than your typical 3D printer include it being simple to use, and having an auto-locking door. This will stay shut until your toy is at a safe temperature and the hot print head has retracted into a recess, so that it can’t burn eager little fingers.

Simplicity is applicable to adults as well. This gives us a hint where all 3D printing is heading.

And though the article describes as a negative the fact that it will routinely take 12 hours for each toy to print, I consider this irrelevant. I would have loved to have this thing as a kid, and would have gladly tried out a new design each day, just for fun. The toys themselves are what is irrelevant, not the creation process.



  • Wayne

    Excellent point! -“The toys themselves are what is irrelevant, not the creation process.”
    I as well, would have loved this as a kid, although I would have been tempted to take it apart, to see how it worked. (har! I can’t be the only one, who took apart speakers, radio’s, & tape-recorders, to see how they worked??)
    –Never had a Thingmaker but loved my Erector-Set & Gilbert Chemistry set, circa 1969.
    At Christmas, I showed my grand-daughter how to play vinyl records with a pin & a paper-cone, she was absolutely amazed! (She’s very tech-savvy but when she’s with me, it’s 100% “analog” toys.)

  • pzatchok

    At that price point I can see a lot of nefarious activity being done with it.

  • Edward

    Wayne wrote: “I can’t be the only one, who took apart speakers, radio’s, & tape-recorders, to see how they worked?”

    You aren’t. It helps when you have a father who can put them back together when you are too young to figure it out.

    BTW: don’t cut the wires at the transformer; leave some wire length for later re-connection. Some lessons are harder learned than others.

  • Jack Langton

    Plug in a crockpot and come home twelve hours later to a delicious meal. Both worth the wait.

  • Wayne

    Har– You also need to be very careful with that large capacitor in the old school, tube driven television-sets. They can hold a jolt for decades!
    Jack– excellent! Ever use the plastic liners? Perfect combination of low tech stoneware & polymer-science. (Now, if only the Federal Government would keep their hands off my local coal-burning electric power plant.)

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