This past spring, Make48 Nationals was a hub of bright minds, creating remarkable ideas and prototypes for the STEAM Toy challenge. Mentors from the toy industry were brought in to help guide the teams on their ideas and give them tips and constructive feedback before they pitched to the judges. Make48 invited Matt Nuccio, President of Design Edge and one of the top influencers in the toy industry to the competition.
For over 30 years, Design Edge has been a leader in the toy & game industry, the go-to company for many of the worlds’ largest toy companies. Clients have included Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, Jakks Pacific, just to name just a few. Matt grew up in the industry. “My parents started Design Edge when I was 14, in our family garage on Long Island, New York. I've been there pretty much since.” Not in the garage per se, but Matt has led Design Edge into a new generation.
Matt grew up in a creative home, surrounded by the toy business. Mark Nuccio, Matt’s father, started in the industry in 1969 and worked with the top toy companies of the era including Ideal Toy Company, Aurora Toys, and HG Toys. HG Toys was in a world of trouble when Mark was brought in as VP of Design & Marketing. Mark's creative plan of action to save the company worked. By the mid 80’s, the brand had become the 17th largest toy company in the United States. After HG Toys was bought by a Chicago corporation, Mark decided to stay in New York and build his own brand out of his garage and enticed his wife (Linda) and children to be a part of it. Soon Design Edge was bringing in clients left and right, and found themselves as the backend to support dozens of international toy companies, big and small.
In 1997, Matt’s parents began to transition the company into his name and by 2004, he had grown Design Edge to include sourcing and opened an office in Hong Kong. A year later, Matt was elected co-chairman of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) associated panel representing all designers and inventors in the toy industry. Design Edge has not only become a design powerhouse and development agency, but a sourcing agent for companies such as Hanes Brands, Kodak, Barnes and Noble, as well as dozens of toy, gift, pet, food and beverage, hardware and houseware companies.
Currently, Matt sits on the Board of Directors of the United Inventors Association of America (UIA), the International Federation of Inventors (IFIA), People of Play (POP) and the education committee of the Toy Association (TA). He writes columns for Toy & Family magazines, and frequently lectures at The New York Toy Fair, ASTRA, ChiTAG and Hong Kong Toy Fair as well as inventor clubs and private corporations around the world.
This summer the winning National team will work with Design Edge to redesign their prototype and have it licensed. The award-winning company has created products that have been nominated for many, and won awards such as TOTY (Toy of The Year), TAGie (Toy and Game award) Games 100, and Origin, Mensa Select and Family Fun, just to name a few.
I spoke to Matt at the Make48 event in Wichita, Kan. about the challenge, what he looks for in a product and what is next in store for the winning team.
What do you look for in a new product or a new toy product in your company?
Well, first and foremost, what's fun about it? There's toys, and then it's marketability and if it can be made for a reasonable price.
From what you have seen so far from the teams, what do you think of their ideas?
I've seen quite a few interesting things, but a lot of people are just still finding themselves, so it's hard to tell. Sometimes great ideas can collapse before they get fully realized and seeds of ideas can grow.
At Design Edge, how does your team work? Do you do all the designing for certain companies or do you take ideas out from the general population?
We design for large toy companies, and my team does the engineering, and we'll license it or develop it for companies like Hasbro and Spin Master. We work with Goliath-type companies, all the way to small startups who really want to get into the market.
And what advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into the toy industry?
I say don't do it! (laughter) But really, you have to understand the market and really walk retail to see what's out there. There are a lot of people that want to get into the toy industry, but they're still thinking it's from when they were a kid, so they're really off trend.
Also, don’t get married to your ideas. If you're a developer or a designer, you have to be very prolific. You can't get married to one thing and just hope that's going to take off, because it really is a numbers game.
Once our event is over, do you think you'll use any of these new ideas?
I sure hope so. Some of what I’ve seen has been good stuff. It's still too early to tell because I like to say there's no shortage of good ideas, but there's a total shortage of good solutions. So I really have to see first how these are fully realized.
I learned some amazing tidbits about Matt and Design Edge. Here are a few things you might not know...
Design Edge has worked on very well-known, popular products and brands including Tickle Me Elmo, Pound Puppies, POGS, Monopoly and Angry Birds as well as many such brands as Barbie, Marvel and Disney products.
Headquarters for Design Edge is located in Long Island, in an area called Hollywood East, also known as Gold Coast Movie Studio. Movies and series that have been produced there include, Spiderman, Annie Live!, John Wick and Kevin James’ ‘Kevin Can Wait’ to name a few.
Matt is a guitarist. His band once played to a huge crowd at the North American International Toy Show in New York City.
An artist (sketch and painting) Matt began his education at The Art Students League in Manhattan, studying figure drawing and then progressed to FIT where he was accepted into the nation’s only toy design program.
Gallery shows in New York have represented Matt’s fine artwork and The New York Times completed a two page spread of his pieces.
In 2022, Nuccio was listed by MOJO NATION as one of the 100 Most Influential People working in the toy industry today, for the fourth year in a row.
Matt once gave a private lecture on the topic of Innovation at the NSA Headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense company that can bring your product concept into reality let Design Edge be your one-stop-shop solution. Visit their website https://www.designedge.net