If you identified what the title was about, you probably had an awesome childhood!
3.2.1…let it rip! Shouting it out like a war cry and ripping the cord out of the launcher with as much force as our little hands could, began an intense battle : The battle of the beyblades! I recently saw a picture of one on the internet and it nearly brought me to tears! All my childhood memories came rushing in, overwhelming me for a good 15 seconds, as I sat on my bed wondering about those awesome toys.
At that point, my inner designer kicked in and I began to think about what made this particular toy so much fun to play with. As I sat there thinking about its design, I realized its brilliance and the amount of thought the designers put behind the toy. Any designer will agree that “Designing something is not tough, but designing a product that can create wonderful experiences and memories is tough”. With kids’ toys, the level of difficulty is increased by quite a few notches. Kids are not ready to compromise. They either like it and think it is cool or they do not like it. There is no “its ok”.
So, why do I think they are brilliantly designed? Let us look at the toy part by part to understand why.
Anyone who has played with beyblades knows that they can be dis-assembled and that too very easily. Twist the top off to remove it. Then, there is a metal ring which comes off just as easily. After these two parts, the only remaining piece is the base, which has another extruded shape to accommodate the launcher’s two tooth while mounting. This extrude is usually fixed to the base and is un-removable.
Now, the brilliance of the design lies not only in the ease of dis-assembly, but also in the way parts of every beyblade are similar. This makes swapping parts between different beyblades a breeze! I can’t remember the number of combinations I tried to get it to spin as I wanted it to.
Let me try Dragoon’s base with Drigger’s top; its larger and should spin for longer. Oh, I should use Draciel’s metal ring because its a defense ring and is heavier.
This was a fun exercise too, with instant and tangible results. It taught us kids about different concepts of physics like centrifugal forces, centre of gravity and so on indirectly.
So, you’re going to use a tall beyblade? Ill use a strong, heavy defense type to out spin yours.
It was an exercise in logical thinking as well. We knew to do this intuitively. That is where this toy’s design is brilliant. It used our intuition very well. As an industrial designer, I know that it is tough to design an object, especially something with mechanical connections like the beyblade, to be so intuitive to use. I have seen little kids using these like pros and it is proof of the design’s success.
As a kid, I loved beyblades because they were fun to play with; and as a designer, I love beyblades for their intuitive design. The excitement I experienced when buying my first beyblade hasn’t been paralleled by many other instances till date. My first was a Dragoon! How I wish I brought it with me. This will be an inspiration for me to design fun, intuitive products!
I feel sad that kids now-a-days, hooked on to their iPads never get to experience that level of excitement. I see this in my little cousins. The only thing they’re excited about is beating a high score in some digital game. I respect parents who deny their kids iPads and encourage them to play “analog” games like chess, monopoly, even beyblades :P. These analog games are designed to stimulate certain cognitive processes and enhance psychological growth at a young age. So, Wherever you parents are, keep doing what you’re doing!
Now that I see beyblades in a whole new light, boy am I glad I didn’t throw away my collection of more than 12 different beyblades and the numerous types of metal rings, launchers and rip cords. I’d give anything to play with them for sometime now and hope to find one somewhere soon. Until then, I have to make-do with memories, haha!
– Go Dragoon! Cheers.