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Sparked by recent trends in the toy industry, Ryerson is now offering a one-of-a-kind program in toy invention, where students are encouraged to take the perspective of a child.
“We all have the capacity to be curious and to be passionate. It is just a matter of remembering what that feels like,” said Lorena Escandon, a program instructor.
The Faculty of Communication and Design , The Chang School, and OCAD University partnered with Spin Master, a Canadian toy making company, to create the new program. It is offered as a course series as continuing education.
Spin Master will provide students with mentors in design, invention and marketing. They will also let students gain experience by working at their headquarters to design and prototype toys.
Ryerson received additional help to organize the course from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel, from which the program originated. Ryerson’s toy invention program is the first of its kind in Canada.
“You can come from any background. We evaluate the applicants on a case by case basis. So, we had firemen (and) veterinarians; more traditional (applicants) would be people who are in visual arts,” said Escandon. “It’s more about the passion that you have for toys.”
Courses will explore the principles of toy invention, toy prototyping, and processes within a toy lab. Students will have access to robotics materials, 3D printers and textile labs.
Although toy industry sales decreased by two per cent across 13 global markets in 2018, according to market research firm The NPD Group, Escandon believes there is a boom of popularity within the industry through toy unboxings on YouTube and social media.
“Social media platforms now have an influence on the attitudes, behaviors and expectations of kids when it comes to toys,” Escandon said. “The fun is actually opening it and discovering the toy inside.”
Instructors are also looking at trends that deal with sustainability and environmentally friendliness, concepts that Escandon says will be taught throughout the program.
“There are recycling programs and (programs to) minimize packaging in order to be a little more eco-friendly,” she said.
Along with environmental awareness, the program focuses on inclusivity as a trend.
“We’re thinking of toys that could be used by a more diverse group of kids with different needs,” Escandon said, noting it is important to create role models for kids through toys.
“When talking about toys, the possibilities are endless,” said Escandon. “It’s about trying new things. There’s no right answer with a toy.”