Toy Design Class Research (Week 2)

Ages :  4 to 10 years

Behavior with age:

The major thing with age was that the kids transitioned from mechanical toys and board games toward video games. They swap games at school and use up all their free time playing video games at home or with friends.


The younger kid likes to play with the older kid but the older kid only plays with the younger kid when he/she has nothing else to do. This is true for most males and a few females.

There is a general protective instinct and a teaching instinct in the older kids. They use their younger siblings as “subjects” during their play. Essentially, a hierarchy of command is established.


The older kids seem to be getting on well in games that REQUIRE collaboration. A few gravitate toward exploring other options.


The types of games and methods of play is greatly affected by the immediate environment where they play. Be it the football field or the sandbox, when it snows, they HAVE to sled.

We observed constructive as well as destructive behavior. Kids seem to like to construct things and once they have finished with the particular venture, they seem to gravitate toward destroying it when in a group. This is not the case when they are alone, some like to admire their work when they are alone and often try to get an adult to notice and admire their work.


Amazingly, this is seasonal too. Seasonal in the sense that every time a new sensation, cartoon or movie comes out, they get totally engrossed in it. Action figures, dolls, board games, video games, even games they make up have rules made up from the present attraction.

We also noticed that kids don’t stick to the same toy for more than a weeks time, even though they go back to the old toys when they don’t have anything new to explore. This usually results in playing with a combination of toys (old and new).


This was the most obvious fact in older kids. The concept of male and female is instilled early even though the kids themselves don’t realize until they cross the age of 6 or 7. Girls play with dolls, boys play with cars seemed a universal truth. This further goes on to everything from clothes they put on to the plates they eat from. The parents identify this in most cases and the room decor changes significantly based on the sex of the kids occupying the room.

Older boys liked to run and bounce while the girls preferred to sit tight and play with their dolls and kitchen sets. The preference of colors was evident though Black and at times white seemed to be a universal favorite.

Boys liked loud noises.


We had some really interesting insight from parents as well. They was this general agreement that kids get bored easily. Also, they wanted toys that are easy to put back together once they are broken.

Some said the kids had one favorite toy which they wouldn’t part with. Be it the old train set or the teddy bear, there always is a favorite.

This is what we heard parents say most, “My kids usually just plays video games”. “They come straight from school and plop down in front of the PS3”


Melanie Notkin, the Savviest of em all

The other day, Beth had Melanie Notkin come in to give us a talk about her startup for the very first Media Organization class. In walks this very energetic lady who is full of enthusiasm about talking to us. I did not realize that I was in for one of the most informative and meaningful talks ever. Here are some her pointers that i think every entrepreneur needs to know.

SAVE FOR YOUR DREAMS – Just because there is this new gadget in the market, or the new house is for sale, you don’t have to go out and start buying them. At some point in life you will come up with this idea which will have a light bulb glowing above your head. That will be a total turning point in your life where you will want to have some(read ‘a lot of’) cash on you.

ALWAYS BE POLITE AND HELPFUL – You never know when you might need the help of someone you never thought could help you. Never ever swear in public. Help anyone who asks your help. Your favor will not go unnoticed.

NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING – Attend all those breakfasts and meeting that you get invited to. If someone comes up to you and asks a question, try to answer it or point out the person who can answer the question.

READ – This is perhaps the important of them all. You need to know what is happening out there. Look into views from different people. Take part in discussions and know the lay of the land in general.

ASK, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN – In most cases all you need to do is ask. You want to work with the multinational organization, ask. You want someone to advertise on your website, ask. You want someone write a post on your blog, ask. The bottom line is ASK. And hey, be nice when you do it.

MANAGE YOU TIME – This one is obvious.

Now, a little about Miss. Notkin and – her startup. One fine day, her niece wanted to talk about Dora, the cartoon character. Well, she had never heard of dora so she was totally at loss about what to tell the kid. Then it struck her as a business idea. She started up the website which specifically caters to Aunts and its all about their Nieces and Nephews. Gift ideas, diet plans, cartoon characters, game ideas, some old fashioned ranting, its all there. And it is growing in a very healthy pace. – A brilliant idea with an absolutely brilliant person executing it. Take a look.


So, I set off the smoke detector…

I was wondering when i was going to do that and at last, a couple of hours back – Mission Successful!!!

We had chicken in the oven, Ashwin opened it so i could spread some more gravy on it and lo, a thick fume of smoke came out, and then – CHAOS. There was this beeping i had never heard before, it kept going on and on and on and then i realized it was the smoke detector!!! Had to take a towel right to it and fan off the smoke around the detector. It was crazy!!! But once we got it to stop beeping, we sat down, had a good laugh and well, started eating the chicken hoping the FDNY would not turn up at our place.

All said and done, i realized the underlying effectiveness of the Fire Department of New York. There are a number of times when i’ve seen or heard their trucks racing down the street to attend to some distressed person with a fire in the apartment or just a smoke alarm going off in some random place. Their quick and effective response only tells one about how seriously the US Government takes people’s lives. Its interesting how everyone is polite here. You walk down the street and you ll get at least two people asking how you are doing. This one time, the very first time actually, we were walking down the 3rd avenue with all my luggage and the guys stopped to get some supplies. I stood outside the shop and a guy came up to me and asked ” comin or goin ?” And i replied “Comin” and he said “Welcome Back” and he was off.

The best start to a year and a half , i wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.