I interviewed a boy in 4th grade. It was my first time meeting him, and he was very shy at the beginning of the interview. He was even too shy to be in a video interview so I passed the video recording. I expected the child would feel somehow positive and curious about the project, however I encountered with an interesting response. When I described the project to him, he was not sure whether he wants to share his ideas, because he thought it does not make sense for him that a stranger can come and build a toy for him for free. I was at his room, so instead of asking the child about his dream toy right ahead, I led the following conversation with the toys in his room.
There were a lot of books in his room, so I asked him which book is his favorite. He picked a DK encyclopedia on StarWars LEGOs. He loved the projects with a big scale (large spaceships, townscape, the Death Star...), also mentioned he always wanted a LEGO ultimate building set, because of its flexibility and versatility to build large projects. He also said he prefers LEGO figures than plastic figures he had because they have joints you can move around. Lastly, he showed me his coolest toy, a plastic building block set, which had very sleek design and projects such as building dinosaurs, sport car, water ski, etc. He really wanted to build the T-rex project with it, but the set used small bolts and nuts, and a too complicated manual to follow instruction (he said even his father couldn't build them).
I asked him to draw how the dinosaurs he want to build look like and he was too shy to draw them for me (he thought he was bad at drawing). Instead, he felt confortable drawing trees, so I let him draw trees first:
which was interesting because he was using a pattern to construct the shape of the trees. He even tried to teach the pattern to me when I was trying to draw alongside him. So I thought it would be great idea to incorporate some patterns in his dream toy. After some other drawings, he finally drew a scene he wanted to create:
Combining all his wishes, I decided to make a wood modeling set for designing various kind of four-limb creatures. Borrowing ideas from evolution theory and mutation/recombination, pieces of the modeling set can be mixed and combined to create customized beasts:
Prototype made with paper board: