One of the great things about the City Dads Group is the opportunity to partner with awesome organizations and companies to learn about what they do…and have some fun!
Last week, we had the change to visit the Mattel Imagination Center. This is the place you always dreamed existed as a kid—like hoping that Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is a real place—because this is where the toys are thought up, designed, and then tested.
While it wasn’t a room full of chocolate, it was pretty darn close. The Imagination Center is located at Mattel’s El Segundo Headquarters and is a series of rooms where the Mattel designers, researchers, and other Mattel employees can talk to parents and kids about toys and observe them as they test toys.
Immediately upon entering the toy testing room, the kids split up to check out the Matchbox cars, Barbie dollhouse, train set, and more. One of the Mattel scientists joined us to demonstrate a toy that allows you to mold your car and described the different iterations of materials and prototypes to get to this particular toy to market. He even made some super slime for the kids and adults!
Before long, our children were so engaged in play that the dads got to leave the room and go “behind the glass”—one of those mirrored walls used to observe the children while they test toys without having us “bothersome” parents showing them what to do. As a parent, it was cool to be able to watch my kids without feeling like an intruder in their play time.
Sadly, we had to pull them away from all the cool stuff made by Mattel, but we were lucky enough to visit the “toy closet”—a room where each child got to pick one toy to take home with them. There was some good negotiating that went on in that room but, with every child satisfied with their pick of a toy, we headed out the door. One of the cool piece of nostalgia for the dads, as we headed out, was the display cases of vintage toys including Matchbox cars based on comic book heroes—just another way that Mattel makes its toys both fun for kids and nostalgic for dads!
If you want to become a toy tester for Mattel, you can download the application on their website or join the LA Dads Group Meetup for future opportunities to visit the Imagination Center.