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

readers voted!

Comments

mr neo 2

mr neo 2 wrote:

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

there are 1 more comments

Please login or register to add comments


like this article?
Sign up now to get more just like it!

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

jordand08
Hi so many of you know me, because I'm mostly trying to help others, but I just need help. I'll try to explain best I can. Okay, yestrday I came home from work, and went over to my neighbors. I wasn't in my room long enough for a minute until my dad came busting in, extemely mad, and um, #####. Not even explaining himself, he just went on a rampage and threw away a lot of my stuff, while I was in the shower. I've never seen his anger like this, not to me at least. And, I just don't know what to do, because I hate to admt it but I'm scared... So.. any suggestions? thanks.
reply about 3 hours
Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in Friends:
Cyberbullying is just as serious as bullying offline. You should report them, block, and ignore. But if it's a continuous thing you should talk to an adult about it! It doesn't matter if you're on the other side of the world, there are many things law enforcement, even worldwide, can do to take steps in making sure it stops and doesn't happen to anyone else.
reply about 5 hours
Jelly3
Jelly3 posted in Style:
One braid :p 
reply about 9 hours
MagicalAnjali
MagicalAnjali posted in Style:
hair puff with side pony
reply about 11 hours
onychair
onychair posted in Style:
i have now getting more hair extension for my hair to look pretty in my school between all of students. straight hair closure
reply about 11 hours

play online games

Valantine-day-crossword-thumb

Valentine's Day is almost here! Time for candy, hearts, flowers, love and, of co...

Goodgameempire-thumb

Goodgame Empire is a great strategy title by Goodgame Studios. Build your own ca...

Black-history-month-crossword-pre

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the amazing contributions of African ...

Big-farm-thumb

Uncle George has left you his farm, but unfortunately it’s in pretty bad shape. ...

Candy-cash-thumb

Candy's got her candies into a terrible mess, can you help her to sort them out?

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

_thumb_100x100

Bloons 2 is here! A worthy and awesome sequel at last to our original Bloons gam...

Frostbox_100x100

Explore the world or hang out with friends in your own condo. Get a unique look,...