A representative from a toy company contacted us in 1982 to talk about toy designs. He had seen my kinetic sculptures and wondered if I had ever thought of designing and licensing toy designs. This was also the year that our second daughter was born so we were getting well aquatinted with children and toys and the idea appealed to us.
Our first design was the bicycling bear. Marji did the characterization and I did the mechanization. I built the model out of wood and Marji painted it and brought it to life. The toy company loved the idea but after a bit of research determined that it was too large (26 inches high x 22 wide) to make at a price people would be willing to pay. The mechanism didn't really lend itself to shrinking (the story of many of my designs!) so we had to put it aside. But the toy bug had bitten us and we started designing. We had an in house testing and inspiration department and the ideas just kept coming.
Eventually we licensed some designs and a few products actually came to market. In general though the final product bore no resemblance to our initial models and looked like every other cheap toy on the market. We grew disenchanted with the toy business at about the same time that our "inspiration and testing department" outgrew young children's toys. It was time to move on.
We have fond memories of that period. We had a great time designing together and with our kids. We met many wonderful people in and around the business. Probably most significantly to my current work, it was through the toy industry that I heard about constant force springs. You'll notice an abrupt change in power source between 1982 and 1983 in the sculpture archive.