Remember having a Little People Farm when you were little? Or maybe your parents (or grandparents) had an earlier version in their day. After all, our first Farm was delighting kids back in 1968. So what is it that makes a toy both timeless and universal in its appeal?
“Cultures change, people change, but kids really play the same way all over the world. And basic patterns of play also stay consistent across generations” says Bob Jourdian, Director of Product Design for Fisher-Price Little People. “The appeal of a farm or zoo is just classic.”
That's not to say the Little People Farm hasn’t changed. In fact, it's gone through a number of refreshes over the years as designers think of new ways to add details, improve how it looks, keep costs down, enhance play value, etc. At one point someone (who shall remain nameless) thought the "moo" sound made by the barn door was unnecessary. That led to udder outrage by consumers, and the sound found its way back very quickly. In fact, today's Farm has not only sounds but music and songs to enrich play and discoveries.
“Parents love to use the farm as a teaching tool,” Bob notes, “as they introduce children to animals, for example.” He and other Fisher-Price designers are well versed in how play evolves as kids grow. And a playset like the Farm can grow right along with them.
Dave Ciganko, Vice President of Product Design, shares some of his observations: “A one-year old might just teethe on the cow. Then they advance to learning ‘this IS a cow.’ You might say they’re ‘discovering cowness.’ They’ll drop it down the silo to see what will happen. Open the door to hear a sound. So as they grow, they learn about cause and effect, make discoveries, and eventually use their imagination.”
The idea of the Farm may seem simple—simplicity is part of both its charm and its success. But there’s also a lot of thought and attention to detail that goes into every product. “We add little touches and artwork that kids notice,” Dave points out. “It creates an opportunity to start a story. Maybe there’s a tiny butterfly on the barn – where will that butterfly go? It’s really cool to see kids make connections and start to create their own stories.”
When Fisher met Price
Putting toys to the test: learning from the experts
It all starts with safety
How a Fisher-Price designer (and mom) was inspired to change how babies can sleep.
They grow so fast. How to keep up?
Have a seat: A short story of how sitting a baby down became a new kind of "sit me up" seat