Amy King '80 has what most of us would consider a dream job—a job we might have started dreaming about since 3rd Grade! Amy is a Toy Designer for a private label manufacturer who supplies toys to some of the biggest retailers such as Target and Walmart, and she brought some of her favorite toys to share with the GA Upper School during lunch in April.
When Amy began her toy designing career, her first company was with Tyco and got to design a Little Mermaid doll. She then went on to Hasbro where she was a “taster.” “I got to actually taste some of the foods for Easy Bake Oven. Unfortunately now they’re fazing out the original Easy Bake Oven because it’s not ‘environmentally green.’” Hopefully it will come back with an environmentally friendly lightbulb so kids can bake again.
Amy is fortunate in that she has seen different areas of the toy industry, from entertainment toys (toys based on TV shows or movies, like a Hannah Montana cell phone) and preschool toys, which brings in a whole other educational element. “There are actually educational specialists and psychologists on staff to help in the design of preschool toys.”
In Amy’s work, she gets to do a lot of drawing and creative thinking. The drawings go to a creative team and a prototype gets produced. “Most companies have a room where you can mash together different parts from different toys just to get an idea of how this toy could actually function. Engineers, marketing, and creative professionals then review it. And you need to be able to convince them of the saleability of your toy. So you really need to be more than just creative. You need to have a knowledge of what things cost, how they are engineered, and how they will be produced.”
When Amy attended Germantown Academy, she was just a kid who loved to draw. “One of my favorite things to draw were these made-up animals. I would create these characters that filled my portfolio. These characters conveniently flowed into a job working for a plush toy company.” Even though the tools have changed from colored pencils to a CAD system, the basics remain the same. In order to succeed in the toy design world you need to be creative and of course, love to play!