Toy Designer

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Toy Designer


Everyone has a favorite toy from their childhood. Maybe it was a doll that talked when they pulled a string. Maybe it was a pirate ship made of interconnecting blocks. Maybe it was just a stuffed teddy with black button eyes and soft brown fur. Whatever it was, it was cherished and it was brought everywhere. The more children like their toys, the more successful the toy designer who created them was.

A toy designer is a product designer, marketing person, and engineer. They invent toys that come to them in flashes of inspiration and after hours of brainstorming and rejected ideas. They create sketches of the project, and then build a prototype, a model of the proposed toy. Toy designers have a few options. They can take their prototype to manufacturing companies, and hope someone will buy it and mass produce it. They can decide to mass produce the item themselves. Sometimes, prototypes are developed by small design firms, which shop around toy ideas on a daily basis, some by huge toy manufacturers, and some prototypes are developed by grandparents with a basement full of tools and an idea. Regardless of how the prototype is made, it is the first step to creating a toy aimed at mass production.

A prototype will be successfully transferred to a mass market if it is safe, durable and cost-effective for companies. A manufacturer will buy designs if they follow guidelines and meet their company's demographic. Unless your toy designs get picked up by toy manufacturers, you will most likely have to work another job until your business can take off.

Many toy designers become full-time employees of toy manufacturing companies. The upside to this is you can see a large number of your ideas and concepts put into play, so to speak. You are often working on someone else's original concept, and may not get the chance to develop your own personal invention.

Toys are extremely important to children, all over the world. Play is a crucial part of a child's development. It helps them relate to their parents and peers, it helps them understand their place in the world. Toys expand their realm of imagination, and toy designers have an important role in both the entertainment, and education of children.
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a toy designer? Toy designers need to like children, and be interested in learning about child development and the importance of play. They have terrific imaginations and are innovative thinkers. They must be able to handle rejection, and be motivated enough to persevere even in the face of doubt. Toy designers tend to be good artists, they can conceptualize three-dimensions in their head as well as on paper. Toy designers should enjoy working with their hands. They must have a good understanding of the market place, as well an understanding of technological applications to toy making. Carpentry, sewing, and metalwork are all good skills to master, as are computer design programs.

  Typical Tasks  
  • May discuss with toy company management about company's plans
  • Develop an idea with a team of designers or independently
  • Sketch simple ideas about the concept and look of toy
  • Create model or prototype of toy
  • Follow safety guidelines
  • Contact toy manufacturers about creating the toy
  • Manufacture toy independently
  • Market toy, maintain finances, and any other administrative duties
  • Promote product
  • The typical day for a toy designer is not all fun and games. Along with developing new ideas and sketches, the toy designer must meet with executives of major production companies and other prospective buyers. They must flip-flop between being inventor and salesperson. They also spend time in workshops, preparing the prototypes and sketching out ideas. There is some travel for the toy designer who is shopping around inventions or is promoting their own products. However, those who work in an established company stay indoors.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Toy designers can work independently, creating toy designs and prototypes to sell to manufacturers. They can also be manufacturers themselves, creating and marketing their own line of toys. They can also find themselves as full-time toy designers for major toy manufacturing companies, inventing items to be sold under a major toy label.
  • Those designers who are entrepreneurs can set their own schedules, and may find themselves working longer hours, including weekends and holidays, but those who work for a major toy company work regular shifts. Toy designers may work alone, but if they are in the employ of a company they work alongside other designers, collaborating on products.

  Long Term Career Potential  
A toy designer can become an entrepreneur, and start up their own toy design and manufacture company, or they can get a full-time position with a well-established toy manufacturer. They can get into industrial design, furniture design, or apply their artistic talents to illustration or animation. They can write books about toy design, or become a design instructor at a college.

  Educational Paths  
There is no set path for toy designers to follow. However, they should have some sort of training, in art, carpentry, or any other related subject. A university degree or a college diploma is required by most toy manufacturers, however, there are only a few toy designing programs across North America. Consider pursuing a degree or diploma in industrial design or computer design, and then take a few child psychology, sociology, anthropology, business, merchandising, and administration courses to plump up your education.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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