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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

LittleHeartz
LittleHeartz posted in Friends:
I know it can be quite embarrassing sometimes when you want to invite your friends on this site. But just give it a try. Tell them about the cool features we get and tell how fun you have and stuff. I am sure if they really take your opinion seriously, they won't bother about the name 'kidzworld'. In my school, everybody think that kidzworld is a cool site and stuff.  :)
reply 22 minutes
trinityac
trinityac posted in Friends:
Sadly she isn't your friend... you should make new ones because she is fake
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trinityac
trinityac posted in Friends:
I understand and agree as well. I was worried my friends would think of me differently when I first started out on this and I waited for almost a year before showing it to them. They surprisingly thought it was cool because it was like a "beginner" social media.  
reply about 10 hours
partydiva01
partydiva01 posted in Friends:
Dear dish it, my friend first met eachother on the first day of kindergarten we sat next to one another and we became close. we were BFF's throughout 1st to 2nd grades. then, the second grade teacher realized there were alot of kids in the class. and same w the 3rd grade teacher. so, we had to have a split class. my friend was in the split. I was not. It all seemed like the teachers were doing somthing... weired. all the girls (well, almost there were only 6 girls on one half) were in the split. and all the boys were in regular . AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE WAS WEIRED! :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( all the boy BFF's and the girl BFF's were SPLIT. me and my friend,kids named Nia & Georgia, Isaac& Ethan, and more. it was so sad for all of us.2 months later, I got homschooled. 2 years later im back in public with my 4th grade self. everything had changed. a bunch of people were obsessed w\ a girl my age named kassidy. im neighbors w\ kassidy and she is REALLY cool and nice. but the whole I  [s:sm3/1jw1] kassidy crew got mean. if I asked them to play they would say. "If Kassidy is playing I will" or I would want to be parteners with kassidy on something and they would freak out. anyway jasmine NEVER invited my to anything, and I am trying to be nice to her ( ice cream money, homework help, comfort when sad, ect.) And not to mention I invited her to 3 things!!! on the bright side she came to 2 :thumbsup :thumbsup she also embarassed me by saying that she was moving I freaked out  because I cared about her and I would cry all the time. I even held onto her and said sadly, "PLEASE DON'T GO!!  :sad :sad . later i found out that she was not moving, she was going to CA for a vacation. even the teacher was in on it!! :mad :mad anyways, my parents told me that i should just let go of her. But i am not ready. HELP??? :e :e :e :e :e
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PittsburghPenguinsFanatic
When I was a child I wanted glasses SOO bad, cuz I wanted to copy my mom and sister. And also, I thought they looked cool. I wear glasses now. I have had them for 2 years and honestly I don't mind them. Although, this year I am gonna pry get contacts for swimming better and stuff like that. But if you don't need glasses I wouldn't recommend wearing them. They're not bad, but trust me after a while you will pry not like them as much. But hey, that's my opinion. If you want to do it I'm not gonna stop you. Do what makes you happy in the long run. And tell your friends that they are non prescription if you don't need them, but still get some.
reply 5 days