Toys for Today and Tomorrow
GDA Staff -- Casual Living, March 14, 2011
FROM A RETAIL, DESIGN, MARKETING AND BRANDING PERSPECTIVE, what do toys need to do to in order to survive? Change with the times. Today, the toy game is different. There are fewer companies, fewer retail spots on the shelf, fewer toys and everything is specialized.
THE ECONOMY, TECHNOLOGY AND THE INTERNET, AS WELL AS PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE HAVING A GREAT INFLUENCE OVER TOYS. I like to think of it like the stock market: It fluctuates, has its ups and downs and if you stay the course, most of the time you come out ahead.
Toys are a "starter kit for life" and to help teach our children how and what to face ahead of them in life, and to thrive with creativity. When making or designing toys we need to re-think what, when, why, where and who toys are made for, as well as how and where they are sold - in stores, online, direct mail, on TV, etc. - and how they are played with to stay in the game.
My Dad told me when I was young "there is always someone bigger, stronger and faster than you." I thought about this and said, "Yes, but not all at the same time." Meaning, there may be someone that is bigger than you, but not as fast, or is stronger than you, but not as big. The same philosophy can work for the toy industry.
Today, toys are conceived, designed, manufactured and distributed within a period of six months. There are so many different factors that must be taken into account when creating today's toys: safety, style and play value, as well as manufacturing, retail distribution and cost; and then there is also brand awareness. Toy companies also need to think like kids, parents, designers, marketers, retailers and educators all at the same time.
What makes a toy popular? Price, play value and the special niche that it fills are part of it. Then there is also the nostalgia that we can relate to. The toys of the future will survive with some key ingredients.
If you take all, or at least most, of the "ingredients" listed in the box, mix them all together, put into a toy design and process, what should come out is a successful, long-lasting, memorable toy for today and tomorrow.
INGREDIENTS OF A GOOD TOY
• Fun to Use
Peter Wachtel (aka) "KID Toyology" is an award-winning creative toy and entertainment designer, inventor and teacher. Peter was recently the Chair/ Academic Director & Design Instructor at Ai Hollywood for Graphic & Industrial Design, and has taught Toy Design at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and Otis College of Art & Design. He has designed more than 500 products, many of which can be found at www.KidToyology.com. Follow KID Toyology on Facebook and LinkedIn.