Kw-logo-smaller

Toy Designer Q&A

We were curious about what a toy designer actually does - is it all fun and games? How do you get such an amazing job? Check out our Q&A with Mark Barthold - a Mattel toy designer!


Kidzworld: What does a toy designer do?
I use the kid inside to create, invent and stylize toys that inspire kids to use their own imaginations, dreams...and to keep it fun!


Kidzworld: How do you get ideas for new toys?
I watch my own kids play and see what they like to play with…I get inspiration from movies and books and conventions like Comic-con in San Diego. Sometimes it's the cliche "ah-ha" moment while taking a shower or driving to work.


Kidzworld: Do you have to create a model or prototype of the toy first? What do you use to do that?
I love to tinker! There's nothing better than seeing an idea come to real life than when you're putting it together with your own hands. I'll have an idea that pops into my head, and so I need to prove if it’s going to work or not. For that, I'll build a quick prototype...sometimes chopping up other toys with similar mechanics and features, adding other parts to it from plastic, foam core, hot glue and yes...even duct tape!


Kidzworld: How do you know if a toy is going to be popular with kids or not?
Not until a toy gets into the hands of kids do you know for sure. We do a lot of research, have brainstorms coming up with multiple ideas for the same toy and ask kids which is the best. Sometimes, since I’m only 12 on the inside, I just have a gut feeling!


Kidzworld: What types of skills do you need to have to be a toy designer?
You have to be able to communicate your ideas very quickly and with a lot of verbal "pow!" Sometimes I think of doing it as a 30-second elevator pitch…it's as if you had to tell someone what you want to create by the time you get to the top floor…harder than you think! You have to be great with your hands and do drawings, make sketch models and verbally get your point across.


Kidzworld: Do you ever ask kids what kind of new toys they'd like to play with, as part of your job?
Yes, having four kids myself I do it all the time! Also we have "focus groups" and other forms of research to gather information at Mattel.


Kidzworld: Do you have to go to school to be a toy designer? What kinds of classes do you have to take?
I thinks it's best. For me it really helped a lot because it transitioned me for a routine "work schedule." By the time I was in high school I knew I wanted to do something artistic and creative. I did wind up going to college and studied industrial design, which is a fancy way of saying "designing products for mass production," and I also studied film animation. I continue to learn so much from my peers at Mattel today.


Kidzworld: What's your favorite toy that you designed?
Well, I have been at Mattel for 20 years and designed a LOT of toys and have lots of favorites…my most recent favorite is the Electrovision Championship Belt for our WWE line.


Kidzworld: What was your favorite toy as a kid?
Lego, hands down. I also loved building plastic model kits…dungeons and dragons and playing with army men.


Kidzworld: What do you see in the future for toys?
I think there will always be a place for traditional toys such as [kwlink ]Hot Wheels[/kwlink], action figures and Lego … but there will always be more creations using electronics and such, that take even video games beyond where we play with them today...making and designing those will be the jobs of all the kids reading answers to these questions now! You go kids! Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!


Related Stories
1 Comment

latest videos

F1121278743859

Where Do You Usually Get Your Toys?

  • I get them as presents.
  • I buy them at a toy store.
  • I buy them online.
  • I don't play with toys.

related stories

Micro_y micro
June 6 is the day to “Walk the Dog”, “Go Around the World”, don’t forget to “Rock the Baby”, beca...
Micro_pookalooz-micro
The new Pook-A-Looz plush from Disney are “too cute for their own good!” Favorite Disney characte...
Micro_toy_micro
On March 23, 2010, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are available in Special Edition 2-Disc Blu-Ray/DVD ...

Dear Dish-It in the forums

Blizzardgirl76
Blizzardgirl76 posted in Friends:
Its my best friends birthday party on Friday and I still don't know what to get her. She's turning 12 and she loves: guardians of the galaxy and Shopping at Newlook. she wears jewellery quite likes hair and beauty products and enjoys watching movies, going to music concerts ( she likes Taylor Swift) and apple products. I'd rather not use gift cards because they're like the lazy option out and she's my Best friend but if you can think of a great brand for her then ok.
reply about 12 hours
HannahG
HannahG posted in Family Issues:
Talk to your parents about it. Tell them you didn't like your Christmas gift, and don't let your brother boss you around. Your parents can, your brother can't. Your parents gave you life, sorry to tell you but they can do anything they want if it's legal. But your brother can't. Let your parents know that you shouldn't have gotten in trouble for the stuff he doesn't. Tell them he makes you feel really awful and you don't like it. If they're good people they'll understand.
reply 1 day
HannahG
HannahG posted in Friends:
I would stop being friends with her. I mean she should understand that it'd be mean to do that. It's hard to help your friend get through a breakup when you're dating the same person. Plus you don't even know if she was trying to break you guys up so she could be with him.
reply 1 day
HannahG
HannahG posted in Friends:
You want to know if he likes you or not? Just ask him. It's not as bad as people say-I mean, it's a question. It looks like he does, so he probably does. It's not that big of a deal.
reply 1 day
HannahG
HannahG posted in Friends:
Talk to your friend. Tell her that this is the first guy that's ever liked you but you don't want her to get mad at you for stealing him from her. But understand she likes him too so don't get mad if she doesn't want you dating him. Nicely decide which of you should get him instead of the other. Chances are she might be thinking the same thing.
reply 1 day

play online games