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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Toy Design Update by Snively '11

How couldn't you enjoy building toys?

Hey all, just thought I’d take a break from the “OMG, CPW TTLY PWND ME!” and give you a quick Toy Design update.

I haven’t talked about Toy Design in several months but that’s not to say I haven’t been heavily involved. In fact, I’d like to officially propose that MIT move this class from 9 units to 15 because it’s not a low time commitment class. Luckily all of the time commitments are fun so I’m enjoying it. Toy design has even influenced two major decisions in my life as of late.

1) I’ve declared a major! I decided on 2A, Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in product development. Toy design was a huge factor in this, I’ve realized that I really like having the skills to come up with an idea and then just make it, market it, and sell it. Awesomeness!

2) I got a job this summer! About a week after I initially visited Hasbro I decided to submit a resume to their modeling department. After a short wait, a road trip to Rhode Island, a tour of their model making department (I know what toys they’re releasing next year and you don’t, neener neener neener!), and an interview I got package in the mail. I opened it up and found a plain white folder with the Hasbro logo stamped on the front.

I opened it up and found a letter on Mr. Potato Head letterhead. The first paragraph:

Woo-hoo! That means I won’t be going home for the summer, I’ll live in the dorms, and commute to Rhode Island (about an hour) every morning to go build toys!

Alright, on to Toy Design. We’ve passed the brainstorming stages, everybody picked a toy from the brainstorm that they liked, presented the concept, and built a model of it. Using everybody’s models and reviews from many many many groups of people (Museum of Science, iRobot, Hasbro, little kids, Olin students, etc) we, in our teams of five, whittled 50 toys down to 20. Our next step, after knocking our choices down to 20, was to build a better model of our toys.

Without revealing too much about what we’re working on, I’d like to share some pictures of what a typical day in Toy Lab looks like.

Step 1: Melt Green Gummy Bears

Step 2: Pour liquid into molds

Step 3: Eat left overs

We snuck a camera into lab for MIT TechTV and while I’d have added music to it, it’s still kind of a nice look into the lab.


This last Monday we had a play test, a semi-frequent event in Toy Design. We go somewhere with all of our toys, a bunch of kids come to look at them, and we tell them what we made and get advice from them. This last play test was at the MIT museum, invite only and after hours. We went headed to the museum after class, went upstairs, and into a private meeting room. There were a bunch of tables set up for us and some lab coats sitting on them. I was in charge of demoing our toys so I put on the lab coat and started having a good time chatting with little kids!

“This is called *************, do you like it?”

The play test went really well and we learned a lot about what kids liked/disliked about our toys. Today we had consultations at the Boston Museum of Science where we presented to the biggies (Hasbro, iRobot, Museum of Science, etc). This was our final chance to get suggestions and advice before we made decide which final toy we make. Again, it went really well, and I think our team has essentially decided what we’re going to make. For the next month we are going to be frantically prototyping, building packaging, getting tags designed, and getting working models of our toys built. This essentially means a lot of lab and a lot of time outside of class.

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a student if I didn’t invite you to our final presenta– I mean PLAYsentations in May.

If you’re even near MIT around this time you should come and play with our toys! We have some awesome stuff to show you, stuff that I anticipate actually being on the market at some point.

20 responses to “Toy Design Update”

  1. Ziwei says:

    One question:Do you regard toy making as more a kind of arts which emphasizes creativity or depends on serious theory?? I guess it’s both,but which is the more important one? I want to make toys,haha,but am a little bit worried not creative enough.

  2. Anonymous says:

    oh awesome! it is a 9 credit class!! so I’ll be able to take it next spring with 4 other GIRs!!!

  3. Snively says:

    They didn’t really “just take me like that,” I had to apply just like anybody else.

    The whole process included me sending in a resume, submitting a portfolio of modeling work I’ve done, and sitting for an interview.

    Toy Design is mostly about the design process, coming up with a preliminary idea (which doesn’t take a whole lot of creativity) and then getting a bunch of advice, refining it, and ending up with a finished product. Creativity is part of it, but it kind of just happens as you spend a lot of time with your toy. You should have seen some of our original ideas, we literally had thousands (50 people in the class, over 40 ideas per person) and we’ve got them knocked down to 20 (probably 15 by this point). With that many ideas one or two are bound to be creative and worth pursuing.

    I always wear my hat backwards, even to Toy Fair, Meet the Bloggers, now, it’s just what I do.

  4. JJJK says:

    Hey Snively, I’m Juhana (male, no one ever knows lol), a Finnish applicant for MIT 13′. I’d like to know a bit more about the UROP and courses like Toy Design. I heard Nokia has a research centre in collaboration with MIT, do you know anything about it? More specifically could it be possible for undergrads to participate in that via UROP or some other course? And in general, are the available UROP projects clearly defined or can you basically pick whatever you want?

  5. Judy '12 says:

    @Ziwei – OMG WE HAVE THE SAME CHINESE NAME!!!!! (Mine is Ziwei Hao… but I go by Judy) High 5!!!!

    @Snively – Toy Design looks likes the funnest thing to do ever! Also, you w/ the little kid = awwww

  6. Star says:

    Toy design is seriously too awesome! It even had its own booth at the academics fair thing during CPW. I’m SO taking that course!

  7. Cathy says:

    It looks like a wonderful class.

  8. Dima '12 says:

    Sounds awesome (how can it not be when gummy bears are part of the equation?!)
    How do you sign up for Toy Design? Any pre-requirements?

  9. Snively says:

    Nope, just take it whenever

  10. Anonymous says:

    What’s the deal with the backwards cap?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Aww man….I read this as my visit nears completion. (Referring to second to last sentence)

  12. Jalpan Dave says:

    @Snively: CONGRATULATIONS!! Approaching a major player in the industry and taking your passion for toy design to the next level is really inspiring and admirable and also, symbolic of how passionate MIT students are about something or the other. Very inspiring.

    One question: How do you get funding for something like this? Sure enough, all the materials etc… you use need to be bought. Are they already supplied by MIT?


  13. Snively says:

    Yep, MIT pays for all of it. Each team gets $500 to spend for the semester on anything that helps with our toys.

  14. Becca says:

    What other types of classes are you taking/will take for 2A? I have officially decided that there is way too much stuff to do, and not enough time to do it.

  15. Judy '12 says:

    mmm… gooey green gummy bear slime… delicious. I guess this was the gummy bear reference in the last blog post, right? haha

    Anyways, about Toy Design:
    Do you guys usually get a class plan on what to make for a toy or is it more individual and spontaneous?

    PS: Big Big Congrats on the happy letter. Mr. Potato Head must be very proud ^___^

  16. Omar '12 says:

    Snively: So what exactly are you doing with the melted gummy bears? That’s cool how Hasbro just took you like that. Is that a perk of coming to MIT? Companies will want you haha.

  17. Steph says:

    This toy design class has got to be the most fascinating class that I have ever seen.
    I want to play with those toys.:(

  18. Snively says:

    I’ll be commuting via the Boston -> Rhode Island commuter rail and then hopping a bus from the station to Hasbro. It should take about an hour and a half.

  19. Solstice says:

    Congratulations on the job! Wow!

    Just one question: How are you going to commute to Rhode Island? By car, bus or bike?