SMARTWOOD - wooden educational toys

 

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT OF SMARTWOOD 2002-2004


A few years after Smart became a producer of SmartFrames, the wanted to start another brand. This time they choose for educational wooden toys. As a designer this was more my cup of tea. Although they requested very classic toys (very similar to what was already on the market), I always tried to add something extra. As you can see, the quality of the images is not exactly to the same level of what we use today, so everything below looks a little outdated.


Bead Machine

This a variation to existing, similar toys. The object of the game is to move the colored beads to a specific location, as indicated on challenge cards. I added the cogwheel in the center, something that no other company had done.


Happy Train

Happy Train was a wooden train with blocks that you could stack. The wooden sticks had faces so that figures peeked through the windows when you slided the blocks over them. I put a lot of time in finding the right shapes of the blocks, so that you could make all kinds of different vehicles. But when I tested this with children of the right age, they hardly found that interesting. They were more fascinated by the magnetic connection between the different wagons. This is a great example why it is worth as a designer to add several small ideas to a product, instead of the one big new idea. You never know which part children will find the most interesting and often it’s not the one you have in mind. I did use the idea of combining simple shape to create different vehicles later with more success in the vehicles for SmartMax.




Block & Roll

This is a classic shape sorter. Checking a lot of existing shape sorters, I found out that it is often much harder for toddlers to get the blocks out than to get them in. To solve this, I made the lid magnetic, so that it was easy to open and close (in any orientation). The lid could also be used as a spinning top.




Circus Blocks

For me this was the most important design I made for SmartWood and also my favorite one because it was a simple but new concept and not just a variation to something existing. The object is to place 3 clowns into 3 blocks with holes, so that the result looks identical to the challenge. Many years later I used this concept again (but with a different theme) to create one of the first SmartGames, named CastleLogix.


But also Haba has used this concept a few years ago in one of their toys. I don’t mind that people get “inspired”, but for me this comes very close to a rip off . Although they use slightly different blocks (and other challenges of course), the concept is similar and they didn’t even change the theme. If you want the original, just buy CastleLogix.


Magnetic Friends

Very simple wooden parts with magnets that could be stacked and that could make shapes like a square, circle and triangle. Today I would never use magnets like that inside a wooden toy, but in those days everybody was doing it, because nobody was aware yet of the possible safety issues of these small but strong magnets.



Sorting Friends

A stacking and sorting toy. The only novelty here was that you could stack the blocks in two ways: based on color or based on shape.



Stacking Forms

I combined two different toys for this: a stacking toys and a shape sorter.




Fantasy Blocks

The object of this game is to stack the blocks so that the result matches with the challenge card. Originally the challenge cards were printed on parts of the packaging that you didn’t need, but we added separate cards later. I improved and adjusted this game a few years later to create “Day & Night”, one of the older SmartGames that is still available today.




Xylodrum

A combination of a drum and a xylophone. Didn’t really make the sound I was hoping for. I learned that it is hard to make a toy that also is a good instrument.



DuoPuzzle

A puzzle with challenge cards and two layers. I used this later again in SmartGames, but with less success than Circus Blocks or Fantasy Blocks.




First Puzzle

A very simple puzzle with two sides.


After a few years Smart stopped the production of these wooden toys, mainly because they didn’t have the right supplier yet in China. Therefor the quality of some items was not always to the level we (or our customers) wanted. Although many of the products I designed for SmartWood were very, very simple, I learned that there is alway much more that can go wrong in production in China than you would imagine. What I also learned is that I can better spend my time searching for new concepts than to design toys that are very similar to existing ones. The only games that are still being sold (but now by SmartGames) more than 10 years later, are the products based on original concepts.

 

Raf Peeters, July 2016

English/

2017

TEMPLE CONNECTION

SNOW WHITE

JUMP IN’

IQ-FOCUS


2016

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

PENGUINS POOL PARTY

PARKING PUZZLER

IQ-XOXO

DEDUCKTION

DINOSAURS MYSTIC ISLANDS

WALLS & WARRIORS

SMARTCAR 5x5

HIDE & SEEK PIRATES JR

HIDE & SEEK JUNGLE

NORTH POLE EXPEDITION

GHOST HUNTERS

ANTI-VIRUS MUTATION

2015

THREE LITTLE PIGGIES

BUTTERFLIES

IQ-BLOX

IQ-CANDY

PENGUINS PARADE


2014

QUADRILLION

BRAIN CHEESER

CITY MAZE

IQ-STEPS


2013

BUNNY BOO

VIKINGS BRAINSTORM

BACK 2 BACK

IQ-LINK

AB UNDER CONSTRUCTION

AB ON TOP


2012

TEMPLE TRAP

BILL & BETTY BRICKS

BEND-IT

IQ-FIT

NOAHS ARK

AQUABELLE


2011

PENGUINS ON ICE

TRUCKY 3

TROY

IQ-TWIST


2010

CHICKEN SHUFFLE

ANACONDA

CANNIBAL MONSTERS

SMARTCAR

SMARTPHONE


2009

TITANIC

DAY & NIGHT

2008

ROADBLOCK

METROVILLE

ALCATRAZ


2007

CAMELOT JR

CASTLE LOGIX

GOGETTER 4


2006

AIRPORT TRAFFIC CONTROL

HIDE & SEEK PIRATES

TOWER OF LOGIC INFERNO

DUOPUZZLE


2005

CAMOUFLAGE

HIDE & SEEK SAFARI


2001

GOGETTER 1, 2 AND 3