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Jobs before birth: parents signing children up to play

Posted: 9:29 AM, Sep 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-07 13:29:17Z

You’d never think…tucked in the back of a residential neighborhood is the place thousands of toys get their start.

“We’re really lucky. 10,000 families are in the database and all of the families are from the Buffalo area,” said childhood development director Deborah Weber.

Parents can sign their children up starting at birth.

“It’s neat to be a part of the process of seeing new toys and seeing how things are made,” said one mother at the Play Lab.

From two weeks old to age 5 - when children age out - kids and their parents volunteer to be test subjects for new Fisher Price toys and baby products.

Parents say it’s a win-win for everyone. 

“She gets to interact with toys, and see new things, and I love to see what’s coming out next,” said another mother.

For Fisher Price, this is a great way to make adjustments to their products, especially ahead of a big holiday toy season. 

Child development director Deb Weber says, over the years, the way children interact with toys has changed

“Screen time is part of their lives,” she said. 

Researchers saw this with a toy they expect to be big this season - “Rocktopus”.

“We actually first started testing octopus as an app for children to interact and play with,” said Weber.

Like many new toys, this one is available as a free app and a 3-D toy

“You have some time playing with your toys, your actual toys, then you also have some time playing with different formats such as the apps.”

The play lab is still looking for families to test products.

To sign up:

  1. Email: playlab1@mattel.com
  2. Please provide the following information:
    • Child’s name
    • Child’s gender
    • Child’s birthdate (or due date if prenatal)
    • Child’s ethnicity (optional)
    • Parent’s name
    • Address
    • Cell phone number
    • Email address
  3. They will let families know if they are selected to be testers. 

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