Finding Inspiration with Toy Inventor Paddy Otley

Paddy B&WPaddy Otley, Toy Inventor at Fuse London Ltd

There was a time when the concept of creativity was only associated with the arts, but as the need for cultivating a brand personality grows, the requirement for creative thinking has transitioned into everyday business. Following our recent blog post, exploring how thinking like a child can impact innovation, we talk to toy inventor, Paddy Otley to find out how he manages to stay inspired.

Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your design background?

Hello. I’m a toy designer and inventor; currently working for a small invention studio called Fuse London Ltd. I studied Design for Industry at Northumbria University, and whilst there got my first taste of the toy industry with my internship for the Early Learning Centre in Hong Kong, working on products ranging from a crayon box to a cyborg gorilla action figure. I was hooked! After graduating I worked for three years at Hasbro, where I was primarily developing new board games. Games are a great design challenge; you have to create a compelling play experience that transcends its simple, low-cost components.


Star Wars Playset 

Now, as a toy inventor, I have the freedom to do whatever I like! I spend most of my time in the workshop creating tiny, hopefully innovative, analogue mechanisms. It’s a lot of fun, and very rewarding when/if ideas sell… I’m fortunate enough to have placed a number of inventions, e.g. for Star Wars (Hasbro), Hot Wheels (Mattel) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playmates).

How do you get your inspiration for the toys you invent/design?

Most of my inventions stem from seeing something in a completely unrelated field… I find a lot of inspiration in museums. You never know what thoughts an ornate Victorian mechanical sugar tong or a Japanese netsuke carving might trigger!


Pet Parade

When coming up with new products and concepts, do you feel thinking like a child helps innovation? 

I find that most inventors or designers, certainly the successful ones, have childlike qualities! I don’t think it’s a case of treating it like a process to apply, you need to have an innate sense of fun and a passion for play… basically the secret is to never grow up. As Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka says, “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” Words to live by!

Paddy Toys single 2
Star Wars Millennium Falcon Playset

It is said that many companies struggle to innovate, why do you think this is?

Innovation = Risk. It’s not a case of companies struggling to innovate, they just have to decide if they are willing to take that risk or not. 

As a creative it is important to stay inspired, does your working environment help you to do this?

A fun environment helps. I believe if you are comfortable and relaxed you are more likely to come up with fun ideas. Everyone has their own way of getting into that mindset. Do whatever feels right. In our studio we play great music and drink copious amounts of tea! It’s also important to get out of the office now and again. We are encouraged to go to art exhibitions, museums, toy shops… anything that helps us be creative.

Paddy Toys single

Creations Thread Wrapper

Finally, is there any advice you would give to aspiring toy inventors?

Well I’m still learning the ropes – perhaps I always will be! I think the best advice is to remember what we are working on… yes it’s a hugely commercial business and so there are serious financial factors to consider, but at its heart we are working on toys. Focus on making your products as exciting and captivating as possible. In my opinion if it’s not fun, it’s not good.

Stay up to date with insight from our network of industry experts, as well as emerging trends in Kids Lifestyle, through our free monthly Trend Update – click here to sign up now. 

Share Button
Posted in Kids Trends, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trend Tracker: Kids AW 2015/16 Dream Traveller


Mood DT

In our latest Seasonal Preview, we shared our forecast for Autumn Winter 2015/16. Since being published over two years ago in our Kids Lifestyle Trend book, we can now see evidence of these trends as they emerge in stores globally. Here, we analyse how the leading retailers in the UK and US have adopted and interpreted the Dream Traveller trend.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Design Festival: Highlights Part Two


London Design Festival, is an annual celebration of design, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators. In part one of our London Design Festival posts, we shared our highlights from the top shows of the week: Tent, Design Junction and 100% Design. In today’s post we share our top three fringe events at LDF: Tom Dixon Multiplex, 19 Greek Street and Plants out of Place. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mosaic Inspired Prints for Autumn Winter 2015

AW Report 15 2

Earlier this month, our researchers hit the key stores across London and New York to track the most popular homeware trends adopted by major retailers for Autumn Winter 2015.

“A strong Asian influence continues to influence print design and decorative accessories as seen in the Summer 2015 collections.” Anri Hamilton, Senior Trend Analyst for Trend Bible explains. Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Design Festival: Highlights Part 1


London Design Festival is an annual event that promotes and celebrates creativity in the UK’s capital. Last week the Trend Bible team attended various trade shows and events, picking up on emerging trends across furniture, lighting and innovative design. Here we share our highlights from the top shows of the week: Tent, Design Junction and 100% Design.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Home Means to Me – “Sanctitude”

DR ImagesImages courtesy of Darren Richardson

In this instalment of What Home Means to Me, Darren Richardson, Director of Gardiner Richardson reveals how his home embodies his family identity.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Home Trends, News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Thinking Like a Child Could Impact Innovation

outsidetheboxImage sourced from Pinterest

There was a time when the concept of creativity was only associated with the arts, but as the ever growing need for cultivating a brand personality grows, the need for creative thinking has transitioned into every day business.

In order to produce a product that stands out from the crowd in a market where differences are hard to come by, a high level of creativity and innovation is demanded; two traits that are often left behind as children. As adults, we naturally begin to measure ourselves against one another causing us to resist asking questions and thinking outside the box.  Although facts and figures are a big part of a successful business, creative thinking is what sets it apart. With this being said, why is it so difficult for adults to innovate without feeling a sense of doubt?

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Home Trends, Kids Trends, News, Trend Bible Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tate Sensorium: A New Immersive Art Experience at Tate Britain

SensoriumArt galleries are overwhelmingly visual, but the brain understands the world by combining information received through all of the senses. So why must we restrict art to just sight?

Tate Sensorium reflects a desire for more immersive experiences and challenges the accustomed way of appreciating art. This winning project of IK Prize 2015, enables the public to discover and explore British art in a unique way with the use of innovative technology. Attendees can taste, touch, smell and hear the exhibition, captivating all five senses to trigger both memory and imagination.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News, Talks and Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merrilee Liddiard on the Importance of Unstructured Play


Author of Mer Mag, Illustrator and mum of three Merrilee Liddiard was brought up surrounded by creativity, instilling an ever-growing imagination. In her new book, ‘Playful’, Merrilee highlights the importance of unstructured play in today’s increasingly digital world. Recognised as a key trend within our Kids 2016 Insight Report, we spoke to Merrillee about the importance of free and imaginative play. Within this interview, Merrilee shares insight into her own upbringing and reveals her favourite projects from the book that reinforce this enchanting type of childhood.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kind + Jugend 2015


This month, our Senior Trend Analyst, Anri Hamilton was invited, once again, to talk at the world’s biggest trade fair in the baby and children’s sector, Kind + Jugend. Here we share our highlights from this year’s show, as revealed in detail in our Kind + Jugend 2015 Report.

“Many designers were showcasing innovative design solutions for the smaller home. We saw some great examples of multi-functional, and adaptable furniture and toys which can be altered to change as a child grows” explained Anri.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Kids Trends, News, Trade Show Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment