We once worked very closely with a prominent Spanish toy company, now since faded from glory. Back in the day they were a powerhouse in Spain and Europe, dominant in dolls and plush, and run by some truly wonderful people whom I had the pleasure to get to know over the years.
I made a number of trips, expeditions really, to their factory and offices near Alicante on Spain's southern coast, the Costa Azul of the eastern Mediterranean. It was here, as it was explained to me, where the soil was so poor that people long ago took up doll and toy making as a way to support themselves when farming would no longer cut it. It was here that much of the Spanish toy industry is quartered.
They have made some great toys in Spain. They believe, and rightly so, that the toy industry should develop and bring to market more innovative products, with a greater level of complexity and technology, more quickly, than any other industry.
I agree. Each year a slew of new, innovative, technically sophisticated products are brought to market in the toy industry.The variety and the level of mechanical sophistication and technology at the price points offered by the toy industry each year far surpass that of any other. The Spanish toy company we were working with way back when was developing a car, a real get-in-it-and-drive-around-town car, that would sell for only $2,000. It was just like the toy ride-ons they made in their Spanish factory, only larger.
Now, we are what we say we are. We call ourselves toy inventors to distinguish ourselves from toy designers. We invent new mechanisms, new technologies, new features, actions, and play patterns. This is different from design work alone. As inventors we have found that we can invent more than just toys, we can discover new technologies that can be used far beyond the toy industry. Perhaps as an industry capable of bringing to market more quickly and cheaply more sophisticated, technologically advanced products, we should reevaluate what we are capable of beyond just toys. Perhaps we should look to use those core competencies to bring to market other types of products, as well, where speed to market, value for money, and mechanical and technological sophistication would be valued.
Those remarkable Spaniards were onto something.