Licencing, product partners... what does it all mean?!

Hi, I’m very interested in a career in toy design but am confused about how the industry works. I’ve done a lot of research and have found it quite difficult to differentiate between distributors and companies that actually design toys.

How does licencing work within the toy industry? Is it a case of a brand, or television program licensing out the use of their character to companies, such as Fifi and the Flowertots with Vivid Imaginations? Or is it a case that somebody will have an idea and work with a company to produce a commercially viable product?

How do product partners work? For example Jakks Pacific’s upcoming office opening in the UK. I know their product partners include Flair, Vivid Imaginations and Character options, but how does this relationship work? Who is doing the designing and who the distribution?

I would be very grateful if somebody could clarify some of these points slightly baffled Junior Designer!

I’ve heard stories about how IDEO invents toys and sells them to toy companies… you might be able to find something online about it. I found this link interviewing one of their toy designers (though it delves a bit into game apps as well as physical stuff)

it looks like they partnered with Mattel / Fisher-Price