Designing the Toy I Wanted When I Was 5
Disclaimer: In today's post, I talk about a current Kickstarter run by the company my husband co-owns. My opinions may include some biases. My husband is and was the toy person in our family. "Is" in that he is a professional toy designer, first at Hasbro and now at Boss Fight Studio. "Was" in that he has been thinking about action figures, how they work, and what makes them better or worse than others since long before I knew him. I was not the type of kid who actively sought out features like more articulation in my toys. But I did sometimes think about what the toys I had could or couldn't do, if not always in the most realistic ways. And my husband and I have had plenty of discussions about the toys of our childhoods. In a recent one, we realized that the toys available to a young fan of horses back in the 1980s were rather lacking.
Don't get me wrong. I had a sizable collection of My Little Ponies back in the day. I loved my little horse-shaped lumps of colorful plastic and played countless games with them. But even then, the fact that they're not very poseable crossed my mind from time to time. The only "point of articulation" on most of the ponies was the neck. The head wasn't really designed to turn, but you could get it to. There were ponies with shiny eyes, ponies with iridescent wings, fuzzy ponies, baby ponies, sea ponies and more. But rarely did you see a pony that could move its legs, sit, or lie down. Manes and tails that could be styled were a bigger priority.
The more realistic toy horses didn't fare much better. They were generally big hunks of hard plastic with even fewer using options than their more fanciful kin. Barbie and similar dolls had a number of horses like this. My ponies welcomed the Star Fairies unicorn Lavender into their society. Even the horses made by Breyer, the most geared toward capturing the look of a real horse, were more about display on a shelf than play options.
Even if I didn't entirely recognize what I found lacking about these toys as a kid (or the bigger gender implications of how toys aimed and girls and boys were made and marketed), I still felt the occasionally vague longing for equines that could better reflect the stories I imagined for them.
When my husband told me that Boss Fight's next Kickstarter would be for a series of action figure horses, I was intrigued. Boss Fight prioritizes playability and poseability in its figures. So a horse made to pair with their Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. figure line combines the realism of a Breyer horse with the size and foldability of a My Little Pony and adds a range of articulation that blows both away.
Thanks to my husband, I got periodic early updates on the progress of the horse and other related equines (unicorn, pegasus, centaur, and even an elk). When the Boss Fight sculptors finished the digital sculpt, he sent me the turnaround images.
I wasn't yet thinking about my own childhood wishes. I just wanted to entertain my husband. So I sent the horse back to him with an added horn and a color palette that seemed omnipresent in unicorn art of the 1980s.
So originally, it was just a joke between the two of us. Then my husband showed it to the rest of Boss Fight. And suddenly, I was being asked to turn this thing I had scribbled on the iPad in a few minutes into a real figure deco for production. And somewhere along the way, it turned into something that actually mattered to me. It certainly isn't going to change the world, or even the toy industry. But I hear friends saying how much they like it and - even more importantly - how excited their young daughters are for it, and I realize that this is as close as i'm getting to making a toy for 5 year old me.
Do you have your own favorite toys or dream toys from your childhood? Is there a toy you would make if you could? Let us know in the comments.