Toy Sword - In progress

Hello all,

I am interested in toy design as an option after graduation (I am currently a junior), but I haven’t done any toy projects, so I thought I’d give it a shot (the boards so far are at the bottom of the post).

My premise was originally to make pool noodle fights (who didn’t love those in gym class?) more fun and likely-to-be-played at home and with friends, but it might open up to toy swords in general.

Right now, my idea is for a toy sword hilt that securely holds a pool noodle (bought separately) as the blade. The thinking behind the attachable noodle is so that it can be replaced easily when worn out, as they are much cheaper than foam swords (which also wear out). A separate noodle can also be cut down by the kid/parent to suit any length needed. Finally, selling the sword hilt alone means that there is no worrying about packaging and shipping something that is 3-4 times larger with the blade attached.

I am in the early sketching / research phase right now, and would like to do more research just to back up what I’m thinking . . . however, I can’t think of much beyond calling up a local elementary/middle school and talking to the gym teachers about noodle tag. How do toy designers usually do research, and do they present it in their portfolios?

Current problems:

  • How to hold the noodle securely? I’m sort of stuck on an idea like a three-jaw lathe chuck
  • Is the attachable noodle idea too complicated? Is designing a sword that is both “fun” and “meant for use” (as in the second board below) enough?

I’d greatly appreciate any help/criticism, and thank you for looking!

  • How to hold the noodle securely?

I’d recommend something serrated like a hose fitting. Slips on, but not off.

Thanks DavidJ, I hadn’t thought of that and it sounds like a simpler solution.

I’d recommend the type of system used in a eraser holder, when the foam breaks off it will not have any protrusions. A collet of sorts.

I see a difficulty in selling a item that requires another seperate item to be complete, just for consumer perception. I think you would need to package one full assembly and let the consumer know how it works and the replacement ease.

Those sword sketches are awesome! both pages are really captivating to me. Good work!

Hose fitting sounds like a good idea, or a living hinge so you can close your handle around a noodle.

Fun little project!! I want to see more. Maybe some prototypes, renderings, lifestyle shots.


Thanks for the help! Definitely some models are coming soon, to see how collet and hose fitting work out as mock ups.

@nxakt - thanks, that is good point about how the consumer would see a product that is new to them . . .

You might look at old Nerf Fencing swords. Though I have some painful memories of them involving falling down the stairs, those are mixed in with really fun memories of playing with them when I was younger, and they were foam noodle like. I seem to remember the foam being replaceable, but I could be wrong. They seem like they could be relevant to this project either way.

Also, it is a little off the mark, but have you looked at “LAWG” or any of those types of games? Kids at my high school used to occupy all the parks playing it and they used all home made padded weapons, if you’ve seen the movie Role Models I believe it’s the game they play. I think they just duct tape most stuff together, but again their hacked together foam weapons could provide inspiration…

Googled Nerf Fencing and one of the first image results pulls from a blog post that talks about both…

I could see the LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) crowd really getting into this.

Thank you both! I have to say, the LARP/LAWG does look like a blast. There are some nice DIY websites that have been pretty inspirational to look at (especially when the real things look pretty expensive).

Nerf Fencing looks awesome! Something I wish I was around for. Thanks for the idea . . . one of the first Google results is the vintage instruction set which shows how the assembly goes together, it is a separate foam blade but I don’t know if they were ever sold separately.

I love your sketches! This looks like it has promise in the marketplace. On a whim I made one of these for my son one time when we were playing with some 1/2 PVC. I just made a sword out of connectors and straight pieces then slid a water noodle on to the pvc. It worked great but the connector pieces were not glued so it slipped easily off at the handle. I am sharing this with you because I am not sure if the noodle is secured only on the base (hilt) if that will be enough to hold it in place during play (esp rough sword fight play.) I think there needs to be a straight piece that slides into the noodle. You had this in your earlier drawings but it looks like you abanoned that idea later on.

Thanks for the interest and ideas bg1!

I should have been more clear in the drawings that I meant to have a sort of core in the middle. I made a rough tapered 3/4" hose fitting on the lathe that worked very well with a test piece of 3/4" inner-dia, so I am thinking that I might not need a system that would clamp down on the foam from the outside.

A center core could keep the sword from being too whippy (is that probably why you played around with the PVC inside?) and I’m looking forward to doing some models to see how far the core needs to go to stabilize it but not be dangerous.

Some progress: early models and narrowing down the form.

@DavidJ: Thank you for the hose fitting idea. I was also thinking about a system that might lock down on the noodle from the outside, but this is much simpler.

I’m still wondering if this toy should be able to fit a standard pool noodle, or whether it should use a custom foam blade that is sold with the sword and also in replacement packs. In trying to find a pool noodle to test the wooden hose fitting with, I found it was very difficult to find a pool noodle during the winter, and a family having to order a noodle online would be a lot of work. There are also a good range of pool noodles around that could be difficult to adapt to (neither the inner or outer diameter of noodles are really consistent across brands).

Cool project and some hot sketches. Keep it up!

great sketchwork and process with some very good suggestions on here overall.

i would either go all out and design the complete sword system of handle and replaceable foam ‘blades’ or design just the handle that fits the typical pool noodle. if you do the latter, i would do away with the electronics since the association of anything with pool noodle attached could mean it ending up in a pool at some point.

i like the suggestions for the hose fitting protrusion, i guess the kids will be the ultimate test to see how well the noodle stays on. if it comes off, i would look into extending the length of the protrusion by using a flexible pvc pipe as an insert (maybe the hose fitting part could mount on top of that flexible pvc tube insert as a guide?), that extra length and friction fit contact might be enough to keep the handle connected to the noodle during excited sword play. not easily prototypical, but there are water expanding polymers now which could be ideal for this : add water to a barbed/ribbed protrusion and it could expand into the foam…

Thanks Mr-914 and pojo!

I definitely agree about the replaceable foam blades (and maybe more of an extruded oval shape) and moving away from trying to accommodate a standard pool noodle. I will be fun to play around with the length of the insert core to find a good balance between flexible and rigid.