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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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mr neo 2

mr neo 2 wrote:

rubish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
commented: Fri Aug 06, 2010

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Dear Dish-It in the forums

XxIHateMathxX
XxIHateMathxX posted in Friends:
I like Harry Potter too.  :)
reply about 5 hours
young fee
young fee posted in Friends:
I think you can not be sure he likes you. take me as an example theres this girl in my class who i talk to everyday. Now i see her as a sister and i have and will go to lengths just to make sure shes okay and her boyfriend doesnt hurt her. This might be what is happening in your situation so i advice that you wait a bit longer because him loooking at you may mean that he likes you and is waiting for the right time to tell you. Meanwhile you can get closer to him and flirt once in a while to asure that him you also like him (that is if he isnt sure). And dont worry if he doesnt like you back its better to have a friend who cares about you than a boyfriend who doesnt like you that much and is dreaming about someone else.
reply about 5 hours
heyitsangel
heyitsangel posted in Style:
Both
reply about 13 hours
InternetOwl
What part of it are you scared of? Is it eating in public and around other people, or just eating in general?  What it might be, if it's eating in public you don't like, is social anxiety, or social phobia. You should ask your doctor to check, because if it is, they can offer you ways to help. For instance, they might recommend therapists or group sessions to help ease your fear.  Even if it's just a phobia or, in unlikelier circumstances, an eating disorder, you should still go to your doctor or a therapist so you can try to overcome it. Try doing things that calm you down before these situations as well, like exercise, reading or listening to music (I'm not sure what relaxes you but sometimes these help). Also, you should try to slowly get used to the situations. So don't force yourself to eat straight away when you're out, but slowly start doing so whenever your comfortable with doing so. Unlike your mum wants, you can't just "stop" being scared because that's not how it works.  But right now, please don't force yourself into any of these situations. It's not good for your mental health to be forced to face a phobia of yours often. 
reply about 14 hours
ElfyKathy
Dear Dish-It, Within the last few years I have felt a bit sick and shaky when we go out to eat. It's not so bad when it's a carvery lunch or something at a pub, but settling down for a chocolate brownie and a milkshake shakes me up. Don't get me wrong, I love going out with Mum, but it's just sitting down and taking a bite. I want to chuck it in the bin. I love eating brownies and stuff at home and I'm pretty healthy. But I refuse to go to the town before lunch in fear. Mum told me I got to stop this or I'm going to develop a terrible phobia.  Please help! ElfyKathy, worried
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