Toy Design Project

Monday, May 30, 2005

All done

Well I delivered the project more than two weeks ago, and everything went well I think. I made three pieces for my game. They are a bit difficult to make by hand, so I limited myself to three. But I have started making some more just for myself and in case there is going to be an exhibition after the final evaluation. The verdict falls on June 16.


Friday, May 06, 2005


Here are some fish I drew for the project. I need to come up with some cool sounding names for them in English. If anybody have suggestions, please comment.


Friday, April 29, 2005


It is now exactly two weeks until deadline.

I am going to make models of the pieces for the game out of epoxy resin, and today I finally got the casting process to work properly. It's tricky to cast thick pieces in epoxy. Tomorrow I start making the real pieces. I made some rough cardboard prototypes of the pieces a long time ago for playtesting, but they don't really show how brilliant the final pieces will look. I think it is important to be able to really have the pieces in your hand to grasp the potential of this toy/game.

Yesterday I got my homepage going. It is basically an online portefolio and résumé for use with job applications. So if anyone out there is reading this blog and have a job that you think would fit me, please take a look and send me a mail.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Focus group no2

I have not blogged much of my work lately. This is partly because I have been working on the different concepts and I don't want to reveal too much of those, and partly because I have not been doing much theory work recently.

For copyright issues I do not want to reveal too much of how the individual concepts are. I might get lucky and think of something clever, you never know. ;) But I can reveal that I have come up with about 10 concepts (I know it should have been more), some promising ones and some pretty bad ones. And I have decided to combine two of the most promising ones into one concept.

This concept I have chosen is a game played with different pieces (not cards) and requires no additional equipment apart from the pieces. The game is set in an underwater world with fish and other water creatures.

I had the project's second focus group this week, and it went very well I think. It was the same three boys as before and one additional boy, all the ages of 8 and 9. I showed them the drawings for each concept and they gave me their opinions. I got the impression they wanted to please me and give answers they thought I wanted to hear, so I had to limit the information I gave them about the concepts to an absolute minimum and let them talk and make up things themselves. This way it was more likely they gave their real opinions and not just told me what I wanted to hear.

They gave me quite a bit of help with my chosen concept. When I gave them some prototype pieces to look at they immediately started sorting them in groups according to type and power. They begged me to give them some of the pieces for keeps, and I gave in and said they could have 2 each but not more. This resulted in some major decision making on their part when they had to choose which to keep and which to discard. And as I thought the more powerful pieces were more popular.

Even though I did not reveal the prototype rules to the game, they still got the basics of it and even came up with some interesting twists. They had to test out the game of course, but before they could play they insisted on writing their own names on the back of the pieces so as not to mix them. This is a problem I had already foreseen and thought of a solution to, but not implemented in the prototypes yet. Apart from that they played the game completely different from what I had anticipated, and this gave me some new ideas to the rule system.

It is now less than a month left of the project, and I will start making the real pieces, forming the rules and finishing up the report. I looks like I might make it yet...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Contemporary Trends in the Market

I haven't been able to find any study on current trends in the toy market, nor in any other childrens' product area for that matter. The trends change so rapidly that any study done would be outdated six months later. So most of my findings in this area is purely based on my own observations and predictions. I have talked to some kids through the previously mentioned focus group, I have watched cartoons and childrens programming on TV, read comics and magazines on games, visited toy stores and searched the web for anything involving toys. And I hope this will prove sufficient.

The trends that I find most promising are:

  • Manga style:
    The artistic style of Japanese comics is the most dominating style of aesthetics in all childrens' products these days. One could even go so far as to say that most products relating to play for people of all ages have been heavily influenced by this style.
  • Collectable Card Games (CCG):
    Since Magic: the Gathering created this game genre in 1993, these games have really conquered the non-digital gaming market. And Pokémon got the younger children hooked. This gaming concept seems perfect for creating crazes.
  • Scary more than cute:
    The last few years have seen a tendency for toys and childrens' games to be more scary and cool than cute. Cute and cuddly toys like Barbie and Pokémon are loosing followers and more "cooler" or "scarier" toys like Bratz and Duel Masters are gaining ground.
  • Hip Hop:
    Hip Hop and Rap music has become very popular amongst children the last few years (in Norway, that is). And this has made an impact on other areas than music as well. Clothes design and graphic design shows some general Hip Hop tendencies. Kids watch MTV and wear baggy clothes and find this cool. Programs like Pimp My Ride is really going to have some influence on the toy market in the future, is my guess. The clearest sign of Hip Hop in toys at the moment is the doll franchize Bratz, where fashion is a central theme. Bratz has become so popular even Barbie is trying to imitate it. And that says alot in itself.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Underwater worlds are cool

One of my classmates tipped me of on this page. It is a fanpage for an old c64 game called exile (pictured above). The owner of the page loved the game so much he decided to make some new designs for it.

As far as I can gather the game takes place both under water and in space. So the characters are wearing suits that look like a mixture of space suits and diving suits. Some of the creatures you meet are fish.

At least one of the concepts I have for my project include fish, and I really got inspired by this guy's characters and artistic style. So I tried to make some drawings of my own (see last blog). Not as good, but in my own style.

There is something about fish and the world underwater that I think would fit toys and games great. There is just so much variety available. You have big fish, small fish, scary fish, cute fish, jelly fish and bottom dwellers of various sorts. It's a cool world for toys and games, and it exists for real! That's probably one reason why we've seen some focus on underwater worlds in animated films lately, with Finding Nemo and a Shark's Tale.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Focus group no1

Posted by Hello
Since the last post I have had a focus group with three boys ages 8 to 9. The main goal of this session was to see what interests the target group has and what occupies their time. Not much unexpected news was revealed through the session, but I did nonetheless get a good impression of what their situation and psychology is like.

They were, as one would expect, playful and active. They like football/soccer, play fighting, Pokémon and Harry Potter. Beyblade is not popular anymore and Pokémon cards is probably being replaced by Duel Masters soon, as there was a big argument between the boys about which was cooler. It seems as though the main reason Duel Masters hasn't taken off in this area yet is because the cards are difficult to get hold of. Not many stores sell them, and not many kids have them for trade yet. Also the rules are more difficult in the Duel Master game than in Pokémon, but this is probably because these boys are a bit below the main target group of the game.

What did surprise me was the low level of video gaming experience the group had and the fact that they did not read much comic books, instead opting too read books. I think perhaps this is limited to this group of friends only, and do not represent the majority of the target group. They did seem very interested in looking at the comic books that I brought with me though, so perhaps it has not been their choice to avoid comic books, but rather an unfortunate circumstance to a small amount of pocket money combined with a large interest in Pokémon cards.