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Client: Mookie Toys/TP Toys

Role: Lead Designer

Disciplines: Industrial Design, Material Research, Factory Liaising, Business Research, Branding, Prototyping, Ergonomics, Trademark/Patent Study.

Year:  2021


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The Active-Tots Range are a set of indoor wooden climbing products. They were designed around the concept of independant "Montessori" learning, and based on the works of Hungarian Paedeatrician Emmi Pikler. The aim was to allow children to have fun learning coordination skills on a product-set that could "grow" with the child's confidence.

I was Lead-Designer for the range, and was charged with every element of the design process from conceptualising, testing, liasing with factories, coordinating our logistics team, even down to the design of the instruction-manuals.

It was an exciting first delve into the world of toy-design in-industry, and controlling the whole design-process was an amazing learning experience!

The main three core products are comprised of a Climbing Triangle, a Climbing Cube, and a bridge/slide/ladder that can be used as a means to connect the two.

Whilst superficially simple, a lot of work went into creating products that were practical in the home and safe to use. As climbing products of this nature are typically used outdoors, the indoor environment presents unique challenges; everything from playspace, the ability to store, safety considerations, and suiting an indoor aesthetic, all had to be accounted for. A minimalist, more Scandinavian wooden theme helped suit a variety of interiors, and the small flourishes of colour through the rubber feet and triangluar handles allowed for a distinctly "TP" feel to still come through despite the simplistic sillouhettes.

The Indoor Folding Climbing Frame & Swing perhaps presented the most challenges throughout development. A shorter, freestanding swing designed to fit an indoor environment meant the product itself was very light. Good for storage, but without the support of the sort of ground-pegs used on outdoor swingsets, it would mean the product was more likely to topple under load.

The solution was to utilise the walls of the interior itself, by mounting a bracket onto the wall that the swingset could slide onto, the swing would be essentially locked in place simply by sliding the mounting brackets together. This gave a great balance of support and practicality, whilst having only a minimal visual impact on the wall in-which the bracket was mounted.

The Indoor Wooden Balance Board was a deceptively-simple product that showed itself to have a lot of utility. Children immediately found it a fun way to test their balancing skills, with the older kids roleplaying skaters, surfers and the like. Turning the board upside-down presents another way to play; great for younger children less confident with their balance, using the board as a bridge offers both climbing and roleplay options.

By it's nature the product can also be easily stored, it's small size making it great for young, 'first-homeowner' parents and a good entry-product into the Active-Tots Range!

The Indoor Folding Slide is exactly as it sounds! Unlike plastic indoor slides that can sometimes be less-suited for indoor environments, both practically and visually, this slide is made using rugged FSC woods that provide the aesthetic and strength benefits inherent to the material, all the while not losing any of it's practicality by easily folding up and being able to be stored.

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michael thundow | copyright © 2023 |

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