Toy Design: Disney-Pixar “Cars”

One of my regular clients is a toy company called DecoPac. Among other things they create many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in the grocery store bakeries. They often develop fun themes using licensed characters to tie in with movie and TV franchises. On occasion they will hire me to develop toy concepts for some of the cakes. They are a terrific client and its a ton of fun.

Artwork copyright © Disney. All rights reserved.

Back in 2008 they hired me to sketch up a “pit stop” idea they had for Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise. Once this concept sketch was approved it left my hands and went to the Disney to be further developed in-house. Because of the realities of overseas manufacturing it can take a year or more from initial concept to final delivery. This project is now completed so I’m able to show you what I did.

Here’s how the final design turned out. There were a few minor adjustments but overall it stayed pretty close to the concept. If you’ve got a young boy in the house with a birthday coming up there’s a good chance you can order this exact cake from your local grocery store bakery.

[EDIT: I just received my copy of the actual toy. It’s pretty clever how it was built. You wind up Guido, then as he drives around the track a little curved stem protruding his side strikes against strategically placed pegs. This causes Guido to briefly turn and face the car before the curved stem slides off the peg and he moves on. It gives the illusion that Guido is stopping to fix each tire (or do whatever it is they do at a pit stop). Pretty neat!

I made a little a YouTube video showing the toy in action:


Download My Updated PDF Portfolios

Along with posting new work on my website and on this here blog, I also make samples of my work available as a free PDF download for clients to print and keep on file. The last time I updated the PDF was in January 2008. A lot has changed since then and an update was long overdue.

Instead of one portfolio there are now three portfolios to choose from: Character Design, Illustration, and Toy Design. Collect all three!

Toy Design: Jungle Animals



Here’s one more project I did for DecoPac. It’s part of a series of jungle animal cake toys that were ultimately never produced.

The lion’s tail was meant to act like a lever which, when pushed, would cause his mouth to open and emit a “roar” noise from a tiny speaker.

I was asked to make the elephant sit on the cake as if he were giving himself a bath in some water, so we only needed to see the upper half of his body.

Ultimately the client went another route but it was still great fun to work on!

Toy Design: Monsters Vs. Aliens


Here’s yet another toy design I worked on for novelty cake supplier DecoPac. It’s a cake tie-in for the DreamWorks movie Monsters vs. Aliens. It’s a little hard to tell from the photo but it’s a figurine of the Insecto character and two plastic finger rings featuring the characters B.O.B and Missing Link. The background is a concept painting from the movie designed to stand up behind the figurine.

At the time the movie was still in production and the trailer hadn’t been released yet, so all I was given to work with was some turnarounds of the characters and a concept painting of the giant Insecto character crashing through the Golden Gate bridge. Matter of fact, I still haven’t seen the movie.

Here’s the concept art I submitted, and a photo of the final cake design. One thing you’ll notice is that the arms were grouped together on the final toy. I suppose this was a safety concern, to make it harder for little kids to bite them off and choke on them:






Toy Design: Sports Fan Bobblehead


As I mentioned in a recent post I sometimes design novelty toys for DecoPac, a national leader in the cake industry. Often the toys involve licensed characters but sometimes they are more generic. For this project the client wanted to update the design of their “Sports Fan” cake. I’m not a sports fan myself but I would imagine this particular cake is a popular seller during the SuperBowl and other big sporting events.



Several toy ideas were suggested including a lenticular lanyard, a folding stadium seat that would hold a beer/pop can, a small keychain radio, and a big screen TV bobblehead. Ultimately the bobblehead idea was chosen. Here’s the final design I submitted, followed by a photo of the actual cake:



(Cake design © 2009 DecoPac Inc. All rights reserved.)

Toy Design: Surfs Up Mickey Mouse!


For over a year now I’ve been designing toys for a company called DecoPac. They create many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in the grocery store bakeries, the ones with little plastic licensed characters on them. They offer a wide variety of quality cake designs for all occasions, and often develop fun themes using licensed characters to tie in with movie and TV franchises. On occasion they will hire me to develop toy concepts for some of the cakes. They are a terrific client and its a ton of fun.

The toys are manufactured overseas, and because of the many factors involved (including the length of time it takes to ship them across the ocean) the concepts may have to be developed a year or more ahead of time. Today I finally received samples of the very first toys I developed for them back in April of ’08, figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse for a surfing-themed cake. The shipment also included toys from two other cake designs which I’ll be posting in the near future.

For the surfer Mickey I developed a few different rough thumbnail ideas and then the final turnarounds. From there my sketches were sent to a sculptor and then finally to the overseas manufacturer.

Here’s the final turnaround designs as well as a promo photo of the final cake design from the DecoPac catalog. At the time the client wasn’t sure which colors to use on Minnie’s bow and swimsuit so they asked me to give them a few options:




(Toy designs copyright © 2009 Disney/DecoPac. All rights reserved.)