Santa’s workshop in the CFA
Alicia Kim grew up with flowers all around her.
Her mother is a florist, and Kim remembers drawing them her whole life.
This became her inspiration for a toy, a plant person, which is a thin, plant girl with changeable heads that each represent a flower.
She’s developing her plant girl for her Designing Toys class, a special topics course in the art department.
“It’s more of a laid-back class,” she said. “As soon as we get closer to that deadline, we’ll have to work harder.”
Her deadline isn’t a final exam, but a completed toy and a storyboard to present to Hasbro, which is sponsoring a competition, in the next few weeks.
The winner will be in the running for a summer internship at their Rhode Island location.
The program was started a few years ago by Towson University alumnus and sculptor Kirk Hindman, who now works at Hasbro.
Towson typically competes with a few other schools, and last year was the first time a Towson student didn’t get picked for an internship, course instructor Leigh Maddox said.
Hasbro provides the joints for the toys’ elbows, knees and shoulders, but the students’ creativity determines how the parts are used.
The first prototype is made of clay, and then the toys are put in rubber molds to create a wax model.
The students then refine the wax parts, according to Maddox, who has been involved in the program since its start.
“They can make any sort of thing. It can be a real action figure, or it can be more subtle,” she said. “We’ve had things like four legged creatures with human bodies. It has to be human-like, with arms and legs. It can have lots of arms or lots of legs, four eyes, or one eye.”
Students learned the process of developing a toy with working parts by taking apart other figurines, like GI Joe or X-men.
But the students develop their own characters with their own stories.
Kim said she’s not a sculptor and has more of an interest in graphic design, but she enjoys the class.
She’s glad that she was able to learn from her mistakes in the three-dimensional process.
It was something that she was interested in learning on her own.
“I’m a little excited, but I’m usually thinking competitions can be tough,” Kim said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up. I want to stay pessimistic.”
The students’ toys don’t usually become real toys developed by Hasbro, but it teaches the students how to work in an industry and provides them with real-world experience in the work place.
“It teaches [the students] to be professional,” Maddox said. “I think they have potential. It all depends on how they feel up there [at Hasbro], but I’m optimistic. They’ve all got the potential to win if they put their minds to it.”