Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Doc McStuffins 'Doc Is In' talking playset

In an October 2014 TIME article covering the 13 most influential toys of All Time, Disney's Doc McStuffins toys were listed among the perennial classics. Somewhat surprising, considering the other toys listed.

While the relatively recent character of Doc McStuffins may not be as indelibly etched in our pop culture as Disney's Winnie the Pooh (yet), or the toy line as iconic and generation-spanning as Barbie, the children's show has still made a tremendous impact on its audience and the widely popular toys have become big sellers.
One of the major producers of the Doc McStuffins line of toys for Disney is Just Play, and a few years ago I was called in to help them create their 'Doc Is In' playset.
For what it's worth, in instances like this I'm usually provided a starting list of features to be included, and/or some basic play pattern.  More specifically style guide reference helps get the character figures right, and lots of screen captures of the shows' backgrounds were essential in getting those details integrated into the design. 

Anyway, here's where it all started, with 3/4 view pencil roughs of the interior and exterior;

Here are the cleaned up versions;

After reviewing the initial pass, various changes were discussed and quickly handled with some patches;

... The doctor bag elevator idea was nixed for a more typical balcony lift.

 The 'hot spot' where either the exam table or bed plugged in changed from wood texture to the puzzle cut.

The reception desk changed to a more curvy design. ...

Having all changes done and everything approved, the exterior view was revised accordingly and both were rendered up for presentation.
Here is how those turned out;

Here is the actual playset as produced by the people at Just Play toys;

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mickey and Minnie Hot Rods

A while back the folks at Kid Trax were working on a 6V ride-on quad for Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  They sought to create something beyond a standard children's ride-on, something clearly reflecting a classic Mickey aesthetic and not something adapted from generic design, like a lunch box with a sticker.  I was called in by the creatives at Disney Consumer Products to help them from the ground up in creating the look.   

Right from the start I was leaning toward a retro feel,  taking cues from the 1950s coupes and souped up 40s models. Something that echoed the era of classic core Disney characters. .. Still, it wasn't a car in which to sit but a straddle rider, so the overall configuration would still resemble a typical modern quad.  It offered some aesthetic challenges in exploring a range of looks from which to choose.

Here are the initial rough sketches of some possibilities I came up with. The perennial Mickey ears are already apparent in the design, the 'gears' motif intentionally tying into the 'Mickey's Clubhouse' show aesthetic, a very popular Disney show at the time;

They did like the old hot rod coupe look, leaning toward C and D the most, C being the final choice.
The next step was to tighten it up and create the Minnie version.
.. Ending up with this;

In this post-modern era of 26" rims and thin rubber, I found myself reveling in the notion of big fat white-walls and chrome hubs.
Decidedly old school.

.. This is another one of those cool projects where the final product ended up looking virtually identical to my work (Well done, Kid Trax!).  Again, it's uncommon, as often so many hands are involved in creating and producing toys,  so it's very satisfying and I take it as a complement. On a more practical and professional level I view these as an example of design efficacy and good communication.
Hopefully my colleagues and contacts see it as another good reason to call on me.