Toy designers create new and unique toy concepts, activities, and games for children and adults. They then bring these ideas to life for a client or market them to manufacturers. Toy design is often a segment of commercial and industrial design.
Toy designers may be self-employed, or work for larger design service firms on a contract basis. Some work for major toy companies.
Developing a new toy requires strong creative skills, research skills, and an understanding of what interests children and adult toy-buyers.
Toy designers must also be able to create models (or prototypes) by hand and with sophisticated computer software. To model a toy, designers spend much time sketching or drawing initial ideas, and then build a physical prototype or computer model of the toy. Modeling a toy concept is useful in determining what materials are most suitable and cost-effective, the mechanical skills needed to build the toy, and to discover any safety or mechanical issues the toy may have. And prototypes are critical when marketing the toy to manufacturers.
Toy designers should be able to work with a variety of physical materials, including electronics, plastics, fabrics, and stuffings. And business skills such as negotiation and finance (to develop a cost analysis and estimate revenue) are also key attributes of successful toy designers.
Many toy designers have a bachelor's degree in industrial design, engineering, graphic design, interactive design, and/or computer art and design. Many also take some business or design management courses in their degree program to address marketplace needs.
Along with getting a degree, successful toy designers keep abreast of trends and issues affecting the toy industry. Issues may include government regulations about toys, copyrights, new materials that could make a toy cheaper to produce or more popular to use, and related social trends that might make a toy more or less popular.