Toy Design Project

Friday, April 29, 2005

Update



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.

Link

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.