By Alexandra Holyk
Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of Andy’s toy gang are on a road trip to Ryerson, with the University launching a brand new course series in Toy Invention this upcoming Fall. Offered through The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, the program directors are looking for individuals who are interested in toys and toy creation.
The fun begins with a partnership with Spin Master—a Canadian global toy company with its headquarters located in Toronto, OCAD University, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, and Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD). Starting this September, the Chang School will be offering a one-year program that provides toy enthusiasts with the skills they need to enter the professional toy market.
Dr. Lorena Escandon, an assistant professor in Creative Industries and academic coordinator for the Toy Invention Program, believes that this hands-on program will help students flourish creatively and innovatively. “We want [students] to learn… how to polish their ideas into toy concepts, but also how to be more entrepreneurial about their projects… how to register for intellectual property, how to negotiate with toy companies if they want to sell their own ideas or even if they want to start their own business,” Escandon said.
The program is made up of four courses that students are required to take during both the Fall and Winter semesters. Students will be introduced to the behind-the-scenes of toy making while also learning the business aspects of pitching a product to manufacturers.
The idea derived from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art’s Toy Invention Program, offered through their Department of Continuing Education. In its six years of existence, the program has proved to be very successful, according to Escandon. Shenkar College has been working with Ryerson and OCAD to provide a similar toy invention program that appeals to the Canadian market.
One of the listed courses is Toy Prototyping taught by Jonathon Anderson, an assistant professor of Interior Design and the director of the FCAD Creative Technology Lab (CTL) located in the Daphne Coxwell Health Sciences Building. The CTL holds a variety of equipment, including two KUKA robot arms, 3D printers and scanners, robotic knitting, a wood shop and metals lab, and computer numerical control (CNC) technologies, all of which can be used by FCAD students and staff.
“We want [students] to learn… how to polish their ideas into toy concepts”
This course is designed to expose toy inventors to a number of ways to manipulate materials to find new sources of inspiration. Anderson explained it as a survey-style course where students will experiment with many of the tools and methods found in the CTL to develop their toy prototypes.
OCAD University’s President, Sara Diamond, mentioned that the school’s Strategic Foresight Program will also help discover emerging technologies that could potentially be integrated into Ryerson’s Toy Invention Program. The Digital Futures Program at OCAD will also help develop a creative curriculum including up and coming technologies, Diamond said.
Near the end of the year, students will be given the opportunity to create two different toy concepts using everything they have learned throughout the course. There will be demo days that give students the chance to present their ideas to representatives from Spin Master, as well as local toy companies.
A spokesperson on behalf of Spin Master mentioned that the toy company will continue to offer internships and career opportunities to students as they have done in the past.
Escandon also hinted at potential field trip opportunities for students, exposing them to the real-life industry through toy fairs. However, additional funding will be needed.
Students will be introduced to the behind-the-scenes of toy making while also learning the business aspects of pitching a product to manufacturers
Elaine Lam, executive director, business development and strategic planning at The Chang School, believes that the class “will provide those interested in toy invention with support for bringing their ideas to life with both theory and practice-based pedagogy. It will also expose them to various supports offered through our world-class partners such as Spin Master and highly qualified instructors with deep experience in this field.”
OCAD University’s President, Sara Diamond is optimistic about the team effort that has gone into developing this Course Series. “The program is a really exciting opportunity for OCAD University and Ryerson to work closely together,” adding that Spin Master has also been a key contributor over the past year.
Individuals from any background of education and experience are eligible to enroll in the new course series.