5 Techniques to Enhance Your Toy Prototyping Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Explore different materials for toy prototyping
  2. Use 3D printing for rapid prototyping
  3. Apply CAD for detailed designs
  4. Conduct user tests for effective feedback
  5. Iterate your designs for improvement

Every great toy starts with a well-thought-out prototype. So, how do you take that spark of an idea and turn it into a tangible, playable toy? One way to start getting better at toy prototyping is by mastering a few key techniques. These techniques can help you navigate the prototyping process with confidence and creativity. Let's dive into the first one.

Explore Different Materials for Toy Prototyping

One of the best ways to improve your toy prototyping skills is by experimenting with different materials. This will give you a better understanding of what works—and what doesn't—for your toy designs.


Clay is a popular choice in the early stages of toy prototyping. Why? Because it's easy to mold and adjust as you refine your toy design. When using clay, remember:

  • Keep your clay moist and ready for adjustments
  • Use wire frames to support larger designs
  • Remember, clay models are not durable enough for playtesting, they're just for design refinement


Once you've finalized your design, it's time to switch to a more durable material like plastic. Here's what you should keep in mind while working with plastic:

  • Choose the right type of plastic. For example, ABS plastic is durable and safe for children, making it a good choice for most toys.
  • Use techniques like injection molding to create your prototype. It's a process where you inject the plastic into a mold of your design.
  • Don't forget to factor in the color of your toy. You can dye the plastic to match your design.


If you're going for a classic or eco-friendly vibe, consider using wood in your toy prototype. Wood might not be as malleable as clay or plastic, but it has its own charm. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose the right type of wood. Hardwoods, like maple or oak, are durable and can withstand play.
  • Prepare for a lot of carving and sanding. You'll want your toy to be smooth and safe for children to play with.
  • Consider the final finish. You can paint, stain, or leave the wood natural depending on your design.

So there you have it: three different materials you can use to start getting better at toy prototyping. Remember, the best way to learn is by doing, so don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and start experimenting.

Use 3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping

So, you've explored different materials and have a solid design in mind. What's next? Consider stepping into the future with 3D printing. This technique is a game-changer for anyone looking to get better at toy prototyping.

Why 3D Printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, allows you to create a physical object from a digital design. It's like having a mini factory at your desk! Here are a few reasons why 3D printing can elevate your toy prototyping:

  • Speed: You can print a complete toy prototype in a matter of hours.
  • Flexibility: Easily make changes to your design in the digital file, and then print a new prototype.
  • Detail: 3D printers can handle intricate designs that would be difficult to achieve with traditional prototyping methods.

Getting Started with 3D Printing

If you're new to 3D printing, don't worry. It's simpler than it sounds. Let's break it down:

  1. First, you'll need to create a digital design of your toy using CAD software. More on this in the next section.
  2. Then, you'll need to choose the right type of 3D printer. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers are a good choice for beginners.
  3. Load your design into the printer and choose the right type of printing material. Remember, some materials are more suitable for toys than others. For example, PLA is a safe and environmentally friendly choice.
  4. Finally, start the print. Depending on the size and complexity of your design, it could take a few hours to complete.

3D printing might seem like a big investment at first, but it can pay off in the long run. If you're serious about getting better at toy prototyping, it's worth considering.

Apply CAD for Detailed Designs

Now that you've got a handle on 3D printing, it's time to dive into the world of Computer-Aided Design (CAD). This is where the magic really happens in toy prototyping!

Why CAD?

CAD software is what you'll use to create your 3D model before you print it. With CAD, you can make sure every detail is just right. Here's why CAD is a key player in getting better at toy prototyping:

  • Precision: CAD allows you to create extremely precise designs. Every curve, angle, and dimension can be exactly as you imagined it.
  • Visualization: You can view your design from any angle, and even see a 3D representation before you print.
  • Efficiency: Making changes is as simple as a few clicks. No need to start from scratch if you want to tweak your design.

Getting Started with CAD

Ready to give CAD a try? Here's a quick-start guide to get you going:

  1. Choose your software: There are many CAD software options out there. Some popular choices for beginners are Tinkercad and SketchUp. These have user-friendly interfaces and lots of online tutorials.
  2. Learn the basics: Start with simple shapes and learn how to move, resize, and combine them. Before you know it, you'll be creating complex designs!
  3. Practice, practice, practice: Like any new skill, the key to getting better at toy prototyping with CAD is practice. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and experiment with different designs.

With CAD in your toolkit, you're well on your way to becoming a toy prototyping pro. Up next? We'll talk about the importance of user testing.

Conduct User Tests for Effective Feedback

Creating a toy prototype is just half the battle won. The real test of your design lies in the hands of its intended users. Conducting user tests is an invaluable way of getting better at toy prototyping. Let's see how.

Why User Testing?

Is user testing really that important? Absolutely! Here's why:

  • Real-world insights: You get to see how your toy performs in real-world conditions. You can observe how users interact with it, what they like, and what needs improvement.
  • Prevent costly mistakes: By catching design flaws early, you can tweak your design before mass production. This can save you a lot of time, money, and stress down the line.
  • Understand your audience: User testing can give you a deeper understanding of your target audience. This can guide you in future toy designs.

Conducting User Tests

Ready to put your toy to the test? Here's how you can start:

  1. Pick your testers: Ideally, your testers should be part of your target audience. For a children's toy, this might be kids in a certain age group.
  2. Set up the test: Create a comfortable environment for the test. You might want to prepare a few tasks or questions to guide the session.
  3. Observe and take notes: Watch how the testers interact with your toy. Do they seem engaged? Do they struggle with any parts? Take detailed notes, as these observations will be crucial in improving your design.

With user testing, you're not just making a toy—you're creating an experience. And the better the experience, the better your chances of success in the toy market. Now, let's move on to the final step in our journey to getting better at toy prototyping: iteration.

Iterate Your Designs for Improvement

Just like a good story, a stellar toy design doesn't always come to life in the first draft. It's all about refining and improving with each iteration. Getting better at toy prototyping demands patience, creativity, and a willingness to learn from each design cycle. So, let's talk about how to make the most of your iterations.

Embrace the Iteration Process

Iteration is the heart of the prototyping process. Here are three reasons why you should not only accept, but embrace it:

  • Improvement: Iteration is the stepping stone to improvement. With each cycle, you'll find ways to enhance your design, function, and user experience.
  • Learning: Every iteration brings new insights. You'll discover what works, what doesn’t, and what could work better. It's a journey of constant learning.
  • Innovation: With every tweak, you're one step closer to a more innovative, unique, and successful toy design.

How to Iterate Effectively

While iteration is key to getting better at toy prototyping, it's important to do it right. Here's how:

  1. Review and Reflect: Start by reviewing your user test feedback. Reflect on what worked and what didn't. This will give you a clear starting point for your next design cycle.
  2. Make Changes: Next, apply the feedback to your design. Remember, no change is too small if it improves the user experience.
  3. Test Again: After making changes, it's time to test again. This cycle of design, test, and redesign is what iteration is all about.

By embracing the iterative process, you'll keep improving your toy prototypes with each design cycle. Remember, the goal is not to get it perfect the first time, but to get it better each time. So keep designing, testing, and iterating until you create a toy that both you and your users love.

If you want to further improve your toy prototyping skills, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Bring your Product to Life using Figma' by Santiago. This workshop will teach you how to create realistic prototypes of your toys using Figma, a powerful design tool that can help you visualize and refine your ideas before creating a physical product.