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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?

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

Dear Dish-It In The Forums

Abbergrl
Abbergrl posted in Family Issues:
My mom can be that way too. There's nothing like that, you're exagerating, you dont even know what you're talking about. When all tthaat time I was going through it. She didn't have a clue honestly.
reply about 2 hours
StarrChild
Two years ago my parents broke up. I was never really the same after that point. My mother she began to just not care about anything. She would go out clubbing every Friday and would yell at me for my attitude towards it. Why would I be okay with her doing that??? I didn't really realise it but I began feeling kind of depressed. Of course we didn't fight all the time but when we did I would always end up crying alone in my room. And it would be really painful. One time I cried every night for a week because of her. A week ago, I felt really sick at school so I went to the sick bay but my Mum refused to believe I was sick. She thought I was lying and being over dramatic as usual. I felt really horrible after that, that the teacher sent me to the guidance councellor and almost immediately I burst into tears. I didn't even know why I did but the councellor did a little test on me and came to the conclusion I was slightly depressed and had anxiety. It wasn't really surprising but hearing it out loud just felt really weird. Even after knowing that fact my mother doesn't really act any different. She's not a bad person I swear but she can just be really horrible at times. Anyways, that's technically whats been happening in my life lol. Nothing really interesting
reply about 3 hours
Froggers
theres this guy that i really REALLY like, im not sure if he likes me back. i put my mobile # on a piece of paper and slipped it in his locker, he hasn't texted or called me yet. Today at lunch i asked his friend to ask if he likes anyone but his friend keeps lying to me and won't tell me if he said anything. The guy and I were best friends in 5th grade but now that we're in different classes we don't talk much anymore. My friends said that i have a chance with him and that we have a lot in common, but im pretty sure he likes this other girl but im also pretty sure he likes me. I want to make a move but i don't wanna end our friendship i don't know what to do.
reply about 11 hours
LUCYQWERTY123
LUCYQWERTY123 posted in Friends:
it can be anyone u want but it should be someone who has the true friendship qualities and trust-worhtiness :) :)
reply about 19 hours
drowning
drowning posted in Friends:
It's good to have both to talk too about things. But, what's the point of being with someone if you can't trust them enough to even tell them things?
reply 1 day