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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!

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Where Do You Usually Get Your Toys?

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bluehawk posted in Friends:
You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it. Keep powering through it and stay strong. 
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hugebear posted in Friends:
hello dish-it i hope i not bothering you.im rita im 16 year old and i have autism.i get bullyed a lot. this has been happening online.this girl said that i was crazy and that freddie mercury (queen lead singer) wouldnt love me cause i have autism.i am queen and freddie mercury's #1 fan.the girl said no body would believe me and it made me so upset i had a autistic meltdown.what do i do,please help.   That person what said that to you is the mean bully and she doesnt deserve your emotions.  I feels sorry for that girl that she has to make herself feel better by being nasty.  Gosh. If it was me I would say thank you very much for saying what you think and say thankfully I doesnt care what your sorry little opinions is.  The turn around and walk away and dont look back. You has the beautiful personality  and your loved.
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hugebear posted in Friends:
I agrees with Kirsten and what does he say when he gives you the presents?
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I've been there but I was lucky. This girl Amelia invited me to sit with her and her friends ................ Yeahbutnowshe'signoringallthetimeandsometimesblowsmeofftohangoutwiththisothernewgirldaniela andthenifoundoutshewasjustfakefriendingme Whatever. You could just try to say hi to someone who looks nice. Although I know how hard it is.
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XxIHateMathxX posted in Friends:
Tell that girl that she looks so horrible she makes roadkill look beautiful. Clap your hands really loud with nobody looking and then say "HEY WHY'D YOU HIT ME?" (Don't thank me thank Diary of a Wimpy Kid) Tell someone. Tell a teacher or somebody Or ignore that excuse for a person and get on with your life without her I mean, it.
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