Even in toy-making class, college is not all fun and games. It’s just… mostly fun and games. “It’s more of a laid-back class,” said Alicia Kim, a Towson University student taking the Designing Toys class, which is run through the school’s art department. (Kim’s project is a plant-girl toy with interchangeable flower heads.) But toys are big business, too, and the class takes that into consideration as well. In lieu of a final exam, students present a prototype and a storyboard to toy-giant Hasbro (My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Monopoly, Playskool…), hoping to win a summer internship at the company’s Rhode Island headquarters.
When he graduated from Towson in 2010, Danny Scannapieco faced a dispiriting job market — until Hasbro liked his toy prototype enough to hire him on for an internship. That was exactly what Towson alumnus Kirk Hindman, a sculptor who now works at Hasbro, was hoping for when he developed the program a few years ago. In the classroom — sorry, art studio — students get hands-on experience, making an initial prototype out of clay and then refining it with rubber molds and wax models. Hasbro provides joints so the toys can have moveable parts. They dissect action figures to help them think about how their toy might fit together.
“They can make any sort of thing,” instructor Leigh Maddox told the Towson Towerlight. “It can be a real action figure, or it can be more subtle. We’ve had things like four legged creatures with human bodies…. It can have lots of arms or lots of legs, four eyes or one eyes.”