Other day I was having a conversation on recent ban on China toys, suddenly someone questioned, who is a toy designer? I recalled my post graduation days, when I was doing specialization in Toy design. Everyone thought it would be like making soft toys. It took long for me to explain that a toy designer does not make only soft toys or toys for babies. There is much more to explore, when we use the word TOY.
Apart from sewing soft toys, a toy designer works with many materials – wood, plastic, metal, rubber, bamboo, steel, paper and natural materials (like weeds, leaves, flowers) etc. If the material possibilities are not limited, then how the possibilities of areas could be?
It could be designing toys for sports, fun and education, special children, for teenagers, for adults (Sex toys!), toys for corporate (team building etc), stress busters, meditation and exercises, and even toys for old age people.
It could be anything from a social initiative to a fun filled activity to source of money.
And mind it designing a good toy is far more difficult than designing consumer goods. Money once spent on a gadget will not make you throw it even without using it. But if a toy is not attractive and not able to capture the attention of child; s/he might not play with at all.
Why there is URGENT need.
In early 2009, a lawsuit was filed by Consumer welfare of India on the basis of finding lead (and occurrence of Lead Poisoning*) in Chinese toys. India has banned the Chinese toy imports for six months. And as China was one of the major importers of toys this is going to provide Indian toy maker ample opportunities to take Indian toy industry at a different level. The global turnover of toy market was above $110 billion in year 2007 where China has 35,000 crore global market share where as India stands nowhere with 700 crore.
BUT China has grabbed 60 per cent of the domestic toy market. So are we ready? Can we grab this opportunity and show the world, our talent and skills to make these toys? It’s a difficult one. We have a Toy city in Greater Noida, we have many localized toy makers (Wooden toys from Uttarpradesh, Karnakta) but we need more conscious toys makers. Who takes this challenge and make toy more child’s friendly.
Let’s make a Toy Plan!
Being a country with a lot of diversities, we have a lot to offer when it comes to designing. One should just target one area from making toys for edutainment to fun to ecological and the possible ideas will come out by own.
Use of recyclable material, natural colors and more eco-conscious will not make a toy buyer happy but also keep a child healthier and happier.
There is one such cool example of greener toy- Fastronauts – Powered by Play
After all, what fun is a toy if you can’t play with it?