Toy Concepts (Whittney Chu)
Made by Whittney Chu
Created: January 19th, 2016
We were given the task to create 3 toy concepts that were educational, interactive, and fun for children. These are the three that I have come up with, and I aimed to make toys that were completely different so that there would be more variety. This involved doing research on what children prefer in their toys and current educational toys on the market today. Furthermore, it meant thinking of multiple alternatives, in case my toy concept was too similar to an already existing toy or if the toy just didn't make sense. Construction cost, durability, and the age range were also considered in order to specify the practicality of putting the toy on the market. Afterwards, we drew a sketch for each concept so that people could visualize the toys more easily.
-Principle that toy is based on: Balance and building
-Description: This is a balancing toy where you add weighted pieces to each side of the bar. The objective is to make sure the top part (shaped like a "v") does not fall off/go out of balance. This helps children learn about problem solving because they need to think about the position they will put the pieces to prevent it from going out of balance).
-Construction Cost/Durability/Safety: I expect the construction cost to be low, such as less than $1.50, because I believe the best material to use would be wood (price estimate was determined from google search of cost of wood), which would also make it very durable and last for a significant period of time. This toy is also based on a very old toy from a museum, which had a similar structure, and it was made of wood, thus attesting to the feasibility and cheapness. The toy should be safe for children above 3, as the weighted pieces are small and may be a choking hazard for younger children.
What I learned: I think an important part of children's toys is the ability to interact and problem solve. Interaction is important because children, in my experience, don't like just sitting and listening or watching. I also have learned problem solving should play a larger role in children's toys since it helps them mentally prepare for school. I think it's generally more fun too for children to do something that actively engages their minds, rather than just perform a low cognitive task.
-Principle that toy is based on: Shapes, Geometry, Colors
-Description: This is a blank cube that comes with multiple smaller pieces to attach onto the cube. You attach the pieces so that each face of the cube is completely covered (no gaps or spaces). It is essentially like a jigsaw puzzle with 6 sides, but there are multiple ways to solve it since you can fit the pieces differently. Potentially, each face of the cube can have a different image or color. Versions that have smaller pieces could also be made, which would make the toy more challenging.
-Construction/Durability/Safety: The construction cost should be low, though multiple materials are required. This includes material to build the cube and pieces, in addition to something that will attach the pieces to the cube. Plastic and magnets, respectively, may be the best option, so overall production cost should not be more than $3 (price estimated was determined from google search of price of plastic and magnets). The toy is expected to be very durable, given that the materials are plastic and magnets of decent quality, and should be able to hold against any throwing, biting, etc. The toy should be only for children 3 years and up as the small attachable pieces can cause younger children to choke.
-What I learned: I think colors are a really important part of children's toys because it's more stimulating than a plain brown or black/white object. I believe that this causes children to be more enthusiastic and more willing to interact/participate. I remember when I was a child that a lot of the things we focused on at school involved colors and shapes so colors and shapes are probably a large step in children's development.
-Principle that toy is based on: Pushing/springs
-Description: This toy is supposed to look like an egg carton with eggs inside. The child presses down on each egg, and the eggs stay down once they are pressed. However, one of the eggs will pop up when pressed (the child cannot anticipate which egg will pop up). The "popped" egg is chosen when the child first presses on the button in the middle (see image) at the beginning, which will cause a ball to spin around and eventually settle underneath one of the eggs. When the child presses on the "chosen" egg (i.e. the egg with the ball underneath), the pressure pushing down will cause the ball to exert pressure back up, thus popping up.
-Construction Cost/Durability/Safety: The construction will involve plastic, a ball, and something along the lines of a spring to pop up when the child presses on the "chosen" egg. I estimate this to be around $4.50, based on the costs of plastic, small balls, and springs. The toy should hold very well, given that the materials are of decent quality, and do not see any challenge to that, including attempts to bend or snap the toy in half (again, assuming the plastic and other materials are of decent quality). The toy should be safe for children above 3, as the "popped" egg is small and may be a choking hazard for younger children.
What I learned: Children like the element of surprise and unexpectedness to keep them continuously entertained. I have found that once children have discovered how something works and can anticipate what will happen next, they become bored quickly and move onto a different, new item. This aspect is present in adults as well, suggesting surprise and unexpectedness is vital in all products.
Overall, I learned that it's difficult to draw your ideas because the concepts seemed very clear in my mind, however once I drew them, it looked nothing like what I imagined. I had to draw my sketches multiple times because they didn't look like anything that someone could interpret. Therefore, I realized this is something I really need to work on. Otherwise, I learned it's difficult to create a toy that is entertaining while being informational or educational for the child. My ideas initially either didn't involve much thinking or were unfeasible to make so I needed to google search for educational toys for inspiration. I don't think I could have completed the project without googling for previous educational toys because I didn't have an idea that was fun yet something children could learn from. However, once I looked at a few examples, some ideas came more easily to me, and I was able to create a few ideas. I also think this project forced me to do something I was truly unfamiliar with. I haven't played with physical toys in a very long time so this project in some ways was a look back at my childhood too.
Introduction to rapid design through virtual and physical prototyping. The class will cover the design process, problem solving methods, interdisciplinary team work, current industrial practice, an...more