Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thomas the Tank: Take-n-Play series

Over the years I have had the honor of being involved in the creation and development of many Thomas the Tank toys that have come from Fisher-Price.  Including their wooden line (similar to Brio brand), Trackmaster and die-cast lines, Take-n-play line, and other licensed specials, that covers a significant amount of toys produced for Thomas.

I love working with the Thomas license and I've had a lot of fun designing for the different categories and their sets.  More recently, the world of Thomas has been expanding in the media with spin-off shows like Flynn the fire engine and Jack & the pack.  It's exciting to be working on those as well, and hopefully I'll be showing more as they hit the store shelves.

In the meantime,  here are a few of the 'Take-n-play' sets Fisher-Price Brands asked me to design for Thomas;

This smaller basic set explored a couple of themes, but relied on simplicity and the key compact storage that the Take-n-play line promoted.
Ultimately they decided to go with the 'Tidmouth tunnel' theme here;

Here is a Take-n-play set incorporating a pirates' treasure theme.  The final version came together from a number of concepts I did, combined with more in-house development.

The case was similar for the 'Blue Mountain' quarry climb set, which initially employed a very cool mechanism.  The mode of track play changed when a knob is turned, the mine shed flips up and open, revealing another level of track.  It offered some very cool play in a compact space, but it was passed on for something that was equally portable, and offered more presence;

Blue Mountain Quarry set closed

Blue Mountain Quarry set open

There is more to show from the 'Take-n-play' line, including my work on the big 'Misty Island Rescue' play set, which I'll post soon.
For now I'll leave with this, the 'Sodor Engine Wash' set. It has a working washer mechanism and features a water-activated color change, allowing a "muddy" Thomas to get all cleaned up.

Sometimes there are a number of iterations in developing a concept like this, other times it only requires a couple of passes to nail it.
There are varying reasons that factor into this, often it's just a matter of quickly exploring the best options, then synthesizing them into a more cohesive final version, ..maybe with some minor tweaks.
This is another one of those cases where it went pretty unchanged from the first pass to the toy store shelf, which is always fun to see happen.


Caryn Coblio said...

Hey! I love your work and you're a real inspiration to me. I found your site looking up more information on these play sets as I just discovered them for my son (he's 2) and started his collection.

I am an industrial design student at the art Institute and have so many questions!

When you begin you concept design, do you sketch by hand or digitally?
Where are you based?
When a company like Fisher price uses you for designs for toys like these are you contracted out or do you work for them in house?

I'd love to pick your brain. Toys are a huge part of my life and I hope to be doing what you do some day.

Edison Girard said...

Hi Caryn, Thanks for the kind word!

To answer your questions:
- I work 100% digitally now, on a Wacom Cintiq. Still 2D but working in Sketchbook Pro and Adobe creative software.
- I'm based out of Chicago.
- I work from my home studio, mostly due to proximity. Most toy companies are based in California or on the East coast. Everything is done via emails and digital files now.

I hope that helps. Best of luck, Caryn!
- E