Matt Nuccio. "BACK TO THE FUTURE. " Toy & Family Entertainment, Feb 2015
Not long ago Design Edge lucked out when New York State and Nassau County relocated us to the newly opened Grumman/Gold Coast Studios film lot 20 miles outside of midtown Manhattan. Design Edge was born at 60 Madison Ave. across from the Toy Center at 200 Fifth. From there we bounced around and more recently considered moving to Brooklyn. That’s when a new deal was thrown on the table by the Nassau County Business Development Office.
Design Edge’s abilities to build prototypes, engineer new product, execute graphic and package design plus build displays and props was perceived as a good fit for the burgeoning Bethpage, Long Island film industry. The idea of having us onsite was a mutually beneficial situation. Since it’s opening the Grumman/Gold Coast Studios have become the largest film lot on the east coast. Just a few feet from our studio stands a complete outdoor set of New York's Time Square complete with tagged sign posts and gummed sidewalks. Across from the Times Square set the largest unobstructed sound stage in the country was recently completed. In the few short years the studio has been in existence, films such as Spiderman 2, The Avengers, Salt, The Dictator, Peter Pan Live, The Sound of Music Live, The New Annie Movie and many TV shows and commercials have been completed. When they are filming this place is bustling.
As a design and development agency we find our new local inspiring but not only for the reason that you may think. You see, before catering trucks, spotlights, stage sets and celebrities stood on this lot it housed one of the largest military defense contractors in U.S. History, Grumman Aerospace. Here they designed and built the F4F Wildcat, F6F Hell Cat and TBF Avenger that helped win World War II. In later years they built the F-14 Tomcat that Tom Cruise made famous in “Top Gun.” While building these great fighter planes is impressive in itself what is most inspirational is that this is the site where the Apollo Lunar Module was designed and built allowing the first man to walk on the moon. Everywhere we look on this lot is history behind, in front of, above and below us.
As Toy designers and developers it is a mistake to only look forward. Inspiration can be culled from the past, present and future. Without looking into the past we cannot project the future. We would not have had the Renaissance with it's rebirth of Greek and Roman knowledge. The Enlightenment of the past brought about the modern age we live today. What amazing feats of yesteryear can we look to inspire tomorrow? What forgotten technologies can be rethought to improve play in our modern era?
Today we have computers with sites available that let us research any area of a project needing an injection of creativity that goes beyond the norm. Seeking new technologies, scientific break throughs and new exciting visual approaches that will enhance form and function is a must for toy designers. All history is now available at the push of a computer key but there are other sources as well.
At Design Edge we maintain a library of over 5,000 classic toy catalogs dating from the 1940’s onward. We find the information contained within the invaluable and certainly entertaining. It allows us to enter the creative mindsets of the designers that developed products for Marx, Ideal, Aurora, J. Shien and early Mattel plus a myriad of smaller companies whose heyday was the 1950’s and 60’s. We also search out old TV Toy ads that give us the mindset to the play patterns in that golden toy era.
Just as the golden age of film has had such great influence on film and TV entertainment today so does history of our industry affect and challenge us into the future. That’s the mindset I am in every time I park in front of my office where the Hollywood of the East is shaping up.