why are so many toys so ugly?

by mari

B. Toys beautiful colorful innovative plastic toys for kids

We’ve got a great guest post from a toy design hero of mine today! Gisela Voss is the designerly brains behind one of my favorite plastic toy brands, B. toys (I’ve featured them – here, here, and here). It’s not just her long resume, it’s her ability to strike it out on her own. She’s gathered talented like-minded people around her, and created a successful new brand. B. toys aligns with who she is: irreverent, high-quality, charitable, uniquely designed, and damn good fun. In the world of toys, that’s amazing (and unfortunately kind of rare). I’ve asked for her take on last week’s New York International Toy Fair.

Over 1000 toy manufacturers/exhibitors from around the globe gathered at New York’s Toy Fair last week.

Aisle after aisle after aisle of playthings: the newest electronic gizmos, the game-of-the-year hopefuls, the yappy dogs, the hi-tech RCs, the doll eyeballs, the dollhouse miniatures, the movie tie-in licensed properties.  Visually overwhelming.  And mostly….. ugly.

If I was going to round up my favorites for a group hug, they’d include the folks I admire, those pushing the uniqueness envelope, those creating something special, those designing beautiful things:

  • HAPE – with its eco-responsible bamboo mission.
  • Eebooand its fabulously illustrated creations.
  • Boon – and its outta-the-box designs which I find so beautiful I would use them to decorate my home.

Our children’s toys end up taking over our living rooms, our dining rooms, our kitchens.  We invest care and attention into selecting décor objects for our homes… from throw pillows on our sofa, to our dinner dishes, our bedspreads, our lamps.  Why do we bring in so many God-awful toys that are poorly made, fleeting in pleasure, and really just utterly unattractive?

One of the tenets of B. is to be B.eautiful enough to leave out when company comes over.  We are firmly committed to the notion that even plastic toys can be lovely.  To that end, we design toys in unexpected earth tones like olive and plum,  decorate them with world textile patterns and even etch textural patterns into the plastic molds themselves.

After spending 5 days at Toy Fair.  I’m so glad we do.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lora Madjar February 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I love and support B. toys and number one reason is they are affordable and COOL! We have their awesome remote control car – honestly, how do you design and produce a toy for such a price? Their drum set is put away for now because A. uses it as a step ladder:) Another great reason to gift B.toys? They come with their wrapping paper!


2 Miz Big February 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Good points Lora – the wrapping/packaging is pretty much genius.


3 Lora Madjar February 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm

We also love our drawing pad:)


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