The toy biz?

Curious about life in the toy industry. Can anyone shed some light here. Not as ‘fun’ as it would appear? Designing things in primary colors with huge radii get old quickly? Crappy pay? Easy to get stuck in the industry, designing toys forever?

Just curious.

Chances are you will get ‘stuck’ in the industry so don’t go into it unless you want to. I was in it for years and loved it. Yeah there are jerks but there are great people too. Its not all thet different then most industries. Just be sure you like your direct report.

You will be dealing with all sorts of materials, mechanisms, electronics even stuff like soft goods (fabric) and hair. Granted most of the stuff is made of SKP (some kind of plastic.) It can be very challenging. Understanding what’s fun to a child, what aethetics turn kids on etc. is really interesting.

Learning what attributes influence a parent to buy a toy and balancing them with the things that make a toy fun for a kid is one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do in design. also you learn a lot about the developmental stages of children both mental and physical whic is pretty cool.

Like any industry, there are good places to work and bad places. It sounds stupid, but work at a good place and you won’t be disapointed. A few of the better ones from personal experience: Fisher Price(buffalo office), Leap Frog, Hasbro(providence office). Look out for companies that licence a lot, or sell exclusively to big box discount retailers. They tend to be all about the money at whatever cost and less about the kid.

As with any industry, you can be easily pigeon holed. move around within the company when possible and try as hard as possible to do side projects and you won’t have a problem when it comes time to move on.

If you love to do something, yes it s not so bad to say you stick, crazy, fall in love. Like you love your grilfriend.

But if you feel you are boring and feel stuck in it (like stay with old wife)… that means you dont love it anymore and why you are still working there…

Dont you dare to find new thing you like to do??


"Look out for companies that licence a lot, or sell exclusively to big box discount retailers. They tend to be all about the money at whatever cost and less about the kid. "

Well, this is very true, but some of the more fun projects I have done have been with licenses. Some of the licensors are a bit tricky to work with (little 3D reference i.e. fox/simpsons), but get used to it if you are truely into the toy biz as they will be a big part of your life if you plan on working for any large toy company.

As a toy designer at a smaller toy company comprised of only 4 full time staff designers (2 graphic 1 candy and one toy me) I find myself doing a lot of light engineering… which is the case in most toy companies.

Fun times overall…

I can only speak from experience of licensed toys. It’s very true what was said before, that these companies tend only to be interested in the money, making things cheaply, selling quickly with little concern for the quality or value of the design. Often these companies just ‘rip off’ some factory in the Far East and repackage it. Also agree that 20th Century Fox can be very picky and hard to work with. It must be noted that a lot of weight often needs to be place on the Packaging design, especially when selling ‘the cheap tat’ some of the licensers churn out… Having said all that, can be a lot of fun! But would definitely advise anyone to try to go for a ‘toy brand’ rather than a licence company.