Colorwheel Toys

Interview – Lisa Forssell

Posted on: January 16, 2012

Continuing with parent interviews, we talked to Lisa Forssell. Lisa is director of technical artists at Pixar, mother to 3, and mentor for E245. We spoke with her over the phone on Friday and talked mainly about:

  1. Toys she, her husband, and other gift givers choose for her kids
  2. Differences between the kids in their preferences
  3. Skills/ play styles across the ages

Key Insights:

  1. Building toys with magnets joiners are engaging for large age range of kids (2-10 in her house). The 2 yr old child lacks the fine motor skills of the older children, but is still satisfied by the easy clicking together of the self aligning pieces. The older children build more complex structures out of the same pieces.
  2. Grandparents and other gift givers buy for what they know will get the kids excited (science stuff for boy, fairy wings for girl).
  3. Toy companies know what they are doing. Her daughter really is attracted to things that are purple, fluffy, sparkly, or disney princess.
  4. Her daughter (7) loves playing dress up. It is one of her favorite activities. When she has friends over they dress up and do fashion shows.
  5. The American Girl Doll is more of a prestige item and sits up on the shelf, although when friends come over, the girls leaf through the catalog like a magazine.
  6. Son enjoys Settlers of Catan and other board games. He also designs his own board games.
  7. The two older children were jointly gifted an erector set from their grandparents for Christmas. The son plays with it more which may be due to his finer motor skills. Also, the daughter is must receive constant instant gratification to stay focused on most games.
  8. Both older children still do role playing with two old and beaten up cabbage patch kid type dolls.
  9. The lower number of toys in their home is due to a combination of not enough time to look carefully for toys and the high standards of finding things that are educational and engaging.
  10. Parents learn about cool new toys for their kids by seeing it at friend’s house, at school or online.
  11. They (parents) don’t spend a lot of time in toy stores, usually looking something up on Amazon once they hear about it.
  12. Willing to shell out repeatedly for a toy that is tested and good for the children (Magnatiles).
  13. Instructional videos would be great for increasing the lifetime of toys. The two older kids had an electronics kit and got bored once they built all of the circuits in the kit. They could potentially get more out of it if they could learn some basics about electronics and dream up their own circuits.

Kid’s Favorite Toys:

  1. MagnaTiles
  2. Magformers
  3. Daughter – dress up, son – board games
  4. drawing on 11×17 cardstock

Next Steps:

  1. Play with magnets when designing
  2. Observe kids playing in their native settings, watch how they interact
  3. Talk to more parents
  4. Find ways to incorporate role playing in our product

“there are a lot of pathetic science kits where things just fall apart”
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