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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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Dear Dish-It in the forums

donteatcarrots
donteatcarrots posted in Friends:
This is a really weird situation... Maybe she's feeling sorry for you?
reply about 11 hours
AnneS12
AnneS12 posted in Family Issues:
Well That is your choice who you want to stay with.Nobody can force you about it.When your parents see a family<a data-cke-saved-href=" lawyer, then he will ask you whom do you want to stay with and jury will decide.So dont worry .
reply 1 day
worldqweencc
worldqweencc posted in Friends:
I'm not quiet sure what's a real friend and what's a fake one anymore. I know when there's a friend who's only a school friend rather than an 'outside' friend as well, but at the same time it makes me so confused. Here's my story: There's a girl named Xian. We had a unique way of becoming friends ... but it clicked. For the whole year I've been trying to keep in contact with her ... but she's not very willing to try and put in any effort to stay in contact with me. Her personality is beyond sweet, and her skills at art are even better. If she was to have an award, it would be a giant trophy with her face plastered on it and big bold letters listing 'Nicest Girl In The World!' ... Its just ... she lied to me.  I was all about this friendship. I was ... i'll admit ... sort of a lost puppy following around her owner.  So, I got her this T-Shirt she really wanted for her birthday, and not long her birthday was mine, April First. I was expecting at least a letter, or maybe even something cheap. It didn't really matter to me.  But on my birthday she didn't even come to school. Nor when she got back did she ever say sorry, or give me any be-lated gift of any sort.  That should have been my first clue. Even my mother started catching on. My second clue was she even told me she was oblivious and wasn't good at keeping in contact. I thought she was joking. How could a friendship so sweet be tossed out just like that? My third one was near the end of school, one of her friends in elementary was bragging about the plushies she got from Xian. Apparently she had four from her.  Xian had originally told me it was AGAINST her religion to give out gifts to other people. I knew she wasn't lying about her religion in general, because I met her mom on a field trip and she was quiet ... different. But I didn't understand why Xian had gotten so many small plushies for her, and yet not a single small stamp for me? My last clue was the last day of school. She didn't even try to say good-bye or even hang out with me for that matter. I know what you're thinking. "Girl, you've gotta be kidding me if you can't see that she has no intention of being your friend!" But this girl was the nicest to me. She stood next to me during harsh times, and comforted me when I was down. She told me I was important.  And you don't get many friends to do those special things to you. It was rare to have a friend make me feel so tall and worthy.  ... So ... I can't understand ... why'd she do all that .... and suddenly ... just ... walk away ...
reply 2 days
catsandpizza
catsandpizza posted in Style:
American Apparel croptop, Juicy Couture velvet sweatpants and Uggs
reply 2 days
Heyyyyy_
Heyyyyy_ posted in Friends:
"donteatcarrots" wrote:I dunno, looks like something more than being friends is going on here. It's probably best to ask her face-to-face though, before jumping to conclusions. ^^^
reply 2 days

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