This week Southern Road students had the privilege of opening the doors to the world famous toy store Hamleys on Regents’ Street, central London – a fantastic start to their Tuesday! Beckoning the waiting customers to follow them into the store, the Year 5 students welcomed them in to explore the thousands of toys on sale. Having spent a term developing environmentally friendly toys in their Enabling Enterprise sessions at school, students were then set the challenge of extending these ideas to design the next best-selling toy for Hamleys.

To gather inspiration, students were taken on a guided tour of the seven floors of the shop, including their own a puppetry and magic shows. Throughout the tour, students were encouraged to take ideas from the 40,000 different toys on display, thinking about how they could improve existing toys, or come up with something completely original. The pressure was on as they knew they would later be pitching their designs to Hamleys, as the newest toy that should be in store.

Students gathered ideas from a range of toys – from magic pens, catapults and remote control helicopters to teddy bears, puppets, and dolls. Following their detailed tour, students were full to the brim of ideas, and keen to get going with putting together their own pitches for what they hoped would become the most sought-after toy on the market. Students worked in teams to refine their ideas – thinking about the ‘story’ behind their toy, who it would be marketed at and the pricing of the product.

With presentations ready – including prototype packaging, annotated designs and even a scripted advertisement – the students got ready to take the stage. Pitching their ideas to Mark Campbell, who has worked at Hamleys for 20 years, they knew their ideas had to be tip-top to make an impression. Mark’s feedback, however, was full of praise – commenting that their presentations outshone a group of sixth form students who had recently presented their ideas to him with 3 months preparation! From Daisy and Doggell Duck, the water aids that could be decorated by the child who owns it and has a wind-powered propeller to support them swimming – made for both girls and boys – to BeysTracker, a catapult-come-flying-battle toy, the students ideas were imaginative and well thought through.

The final part of the day gave students an insight into the process from designing the toy to having it put onto the shelf, learning about the cost of manufacturing, shipping and how to adapt the toys to reach as large a target market as possible. So now they are set to get going on their new careers as toy designers!

Thank you to everyone on the day – Southern Road students were a great bunch and everyone at Hamleys ensured they had a wonderfully memorable day. I hope one day we will be seeing the students’ designs in toy shops all over the world…

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