The Pen Flyer : Childish Adults (9.0)

One of the most interesting pivot points while developing the Pen Flyer has been recognising the distinction and relationship between the toy’s user (the person who uses the toy) and customer (the person who buys the toy). Originally I imagined that the Pen Flyer’s user would be a child, aged from 5–11 years, while the customer would be a parent, friend, sibling or extended family member. However I have come to recognise one key flaw in my original thinking. While undertaking user testing I watched in great dismay as the toy, which I had poured hours of work into, held a child’s attention for five minutes before it was discarded and forgotten. Yet in contrast I observed that the child’s parent(s) showed far more interest and engagement in the toy. I walked away with one key insight — maybe my customer (parents) is my user.

I argue that most children born with a sippy cup in one hand and an iPad in the other are more entertained and engaged by pixels and code then by physical play — unlike their parents. This notion, although biased toward western cultures (…and in some cases is a gross generalisation) is opposed to the older generations who grew up enjoying highly physical play using sticks, stones and bouncy balls with a heavy dose of imagination. It seems that the Pen Flyer’s tangible and imaginative nature scratches the “nostalgic play” itch in people, aged twenty and up, far more effectively then entertaining the digital generation. I would suggest, that this concept originates from the differences in the way children develop and grow between and across the generations. The widespread availability of digital and portable technology has seemed to shift the way children play and interact, which contrasts with those who grew up before or during the birth of the digital age. This insight has lead me to rethink my thinking and illustrates the value of user testing and market validation. Never assume, always validate.

Over the past two weeks I have created a CAD design of the Pen Flyer based upon my refined physical prototype. I now intend to laser cut the design in order to continue to solidify the toy’s final details. This is a really satisfying point in the process where I can tighten down all the loose bolts and screws.