While working as in-house as a designer and researcher at Tomy International, I was asked to explore and develop a line of plush characters and accompanying books to help parents / kids with their goodnight routine. The line did not go to production, but was a lot of fun to play with.
I started with research on existing patterns, materials, illustration styles, plush, and books.
With a good understanding of the existing market it was time to start defining our product strategy. We started by exploring our unique and brand appropriate look and feel.
Once a general look and feel was establish, I started developing our animal characters. This was extremely fun to see their personalities take shape. It was always surprising how a little adjustment of the eyebrow or smirk could totally change the emotional connection with each character. We determined that a ‘closed-eye’ look was appropriate for the ‘going to sleep’ intention of the line. We decided on five woodsy characters; fawn, rabbit, fox, raccoon, and sheep.
After lots of sketches I started making white model mockups to determine size and shape of the character set. I used chipboard with a white coating on one side to create the two-tone bodies. Black marker was used to show detailing elements.
Then I created concept sheets for each character communicate the overall personality and start giving hints at how to bring them to life.
Then I created spec sheets for each character to send to our factory so they could start creating plush samples.
We explored various approaches to the books. My three favorite are shown below; animal-opoeia, day & night, and sleepy eyes. I wanted to prototype and user test each direction.
We started getting initial samples made by our factory when the project was stopped. Not every concept goes to market, but it is still important to put the same effort and detail into each product and product line. I have an emotional attachment to these little critters. I hope they see the light of day in the future.