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What is Toy Design?

One of life’s simplest truths is that children and toys go hand in hand, and they always have. While “cavechildren” probably didn’t build and smash LEGO® forts or shave their Barbies’® heads, historians believe that they still played with primitive toys. Even if they were just sticks and rocks, chances are these primitive children found some sort of playful use for them.

Toys are a necessity for children. Not only do they provide entertainment, but they can also provide excellent learning experiences. There is no shortage of toys to choose from either. New toys hit the shelves every day, and parents and children alike are bound to find something useful and fun. No matter what a child’s interest is – well, there’s a toy for that.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that there is no magical toy machine that pops out new and amazing toys at regular intervals. Designing and creating toys is a major process. Behind every new toy – from the simplest building block to the most complicated new fangled robot – sits a toy designer.

What Does a Toy Designer Do?

A toy designer designs toys. Sound simple? It’s not! Though there is usually some play involved in a toy designing career, like the majority of other careers, it also involves hard work.

Every toy starts with an idea. It is usually the job of a toy designer to come up with this idea. After he has a good idea of what the toy will look like and how it will function, a toy designer can then put his idea on paper. This often involves drawing the toy with either a pencil and paper, or computer software.

Once the design is down on paper, a toy designer will then usually build the toy, if he has the proper tools and materials. This idea and prototype can then be sold to a toy manufacturing company.

Toy designers that are directly employed by toy manufacturing companies may be responsible for original toy designs, but he will also usually work with a team to develop other ideas as well.

During their careers in toy design, many professionals will often specialize in a certain type of toy, or toys for certain age groups. One toy designer may create nothing but board games, for example, while another may create original action figures.

Another major concern for toy designers is safety. Children, it appears, are slightly more fragile than most adults, and the wrong toy design can result in injury or even death. Yard darts, which were introduced in the 1950s, are an excellent example of unsafe toys. For nearly three decades, these large pointy metal darts, which were tossed into the air, were a source of fun and entertainment for millions of families. Unfortunately, it took the Consumer Product Safety Commission just as long to realize that they were probably a bit unsafe, considering they also caused thousands of injuries, and they were banned in 1988.

Where Does a Toy Designer Work?

Toy designers can either work for themselves or work for toy manufacturing companies.

Some toy designers, for instance, may design and create toys to sell on their own. Others, however, may just sell their toy designs to manufacturers. If they accept the designs, these manufacturers will then mass produce the toys.

Toy manufacturers also usually have toy designers on staff. These toy designers are responsible for regularly coming up with new toy designs for mass production.

What Skills and Education Does a Toy Designer Need?

Since they design products specifically for children, toy designers should truly enjoy children, and have the ability to think like a child. Drawing skills and an excellent imagination are also necessary skills and qualities for a career in toy design.

A toy designer should also be adept at building and working with their hands. Depending on their specialty, skills like sculpting, sewing, and woodworking will often come in very handy for most toy designers.

Although there are no hard and fast rules regarding the education requirements for toy designers, most of these professionals choose to earn post-secondary degrees in product design or toy design.

What is the Average Annual Salary for a Toy Designer?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have any information specifically about toy designers, but this profession is considered to be a specific type of commercial and industrial design. In 2008, professionals in this industry made an average salary of $57, 350.

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