Throughout the Sweethearts program I had to solve many stimulative design, manufacturing, and logistical challenges.
Designing for Assembly:
Early on we discovered the lip gloss pods would come pre-sealed from the cosmetics vendor with a thick plastic sheet on top, which restricted how they could be assembled into the toy. They could no longer be trapped by inserting them through the back of the toy as we had originally planned. We now had to re-design the pods and receptacle so the pods could insert from the front and securely lock into place. Creating this mechanism with the lowest possible negative aesthetic impact was the result of a great team effort that I enjoyed substantially contributing to.
Manufacturing and Logistical Challenges:
I later pitched an idea that we could sculpt phrases into the bottom of the lip gloss pods, and the lip gloss would 'settle' into the engraved area for a fun reveal once the lip gloss was used up (see top picture). I then proposed that we further increase the toy’s value by randomizing the possible phrases that could appear, heightening the 'surprise' factor. To make this even more challenging, these phrases would not be visible after the pod was filled with lip gloss, and every one of these phrases also needed to be fully trackable in the case of a possible recall of a specific phrase. Designing a way for these hidden phrases to be externally identified without an obvious reveal to the customer was a great challenge that I enjoyed solving to deliver 24 total variations of toys in this program.
To achieve this randomization required close coordination with the lip gloss vendor and toy manufacturer, for which I was heavily involved in the tool and cavity planning. The pod sculpt for each possible phrase had a slightly different feature which was designed to go unnoticed by the consumer. Since the phrase was completely hidden by the lip gloss, this feature was used as an identifier by the manufacturer to randomize the phrases during assembly. Since the pods are hidden inside the locket in the final deliverable, this mark was also used during pack-out to package the correct phrase within its specific polybag which was printed with an identifying code. In the case of a recall, this code could have been used by store owners to easily identify all affected designs.