Animal Stackers is a new kind of building block that blurs the line between toys for boys and toys for girls. I saw the need for a toy that would bridge these gender boundaries so I designed Animal Stackers with the goal of encouraging boys and girls to play together. With the help of crowdfunding, I was able to create a colorful cast of characters and bring Animal Stackers to market.

User Research

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In order to gain customer insights, I wanted to do some ethnographic research starting with user observations at toy stores, classrooms, and day cares (anywhere you could have playtime). After doing interviews with parents and their children, I arrived at some useful findings:

Design and Prototyping

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I ideated through different concepts and materials and tested the prototypes in stores and with parent volunteers. Using their feedback, I iterated through different prototypes and once I had a design that resonated with users, I created a product line with 10 unique characters. With a woodshop and a paint spraying booth at my disposal, I was able to make high fidelity prototypes, things that looked like and worked like what would become the real toys.

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Kickstarter and Marketing


When the time came to raise funding for manufacturing, Kickstarter and crowdfunding an optimal choice. With a limited budget for marketing, Kickstarter was a way for me to test the concept with a larger audience before committing to the full-scale production. One of the advantages for Animal Stackers on crowdfunding websites was the intuitive nature of the toys. Before even watching the video, visitors could naturally understand how to play with the toys and who they were for.

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I produced and edited the promotional video using stop motion animation and Adobe Premiere. The video was an opportunity for me to tell a story about sharing toys (and how you often didn’t), something a lot of people could empathize with. The message resonated with visitors to the site and I managed to raise over $70,000 from 1000 backers, all with extremely little marketing and a lot of word of mouth.

Production and Manufacturing

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