Monday, February 9, 2015

Toys Are Tools? What's That?

WHAT: Toys are Tools in 2015 and beyond wrapped up in one colorful logo
DOES: Logos forces one to make a statement about oneself
self-confidence and trust in others

TOOLS: The whole box

I used to make fun of my friend who preferred everything to be "low-key." ie. low-key evening, low-key party, low-key dinner, etc. It's ironic because his insistence of being low-key really made him quite the opposite, that is, he was very hard to please. The worst part was that he didn't even know this about himself. So of course, I told him. Thankfully, we are still friends.

I had the same realization about myself and this website, Toys are Tools or toysaretools or ToysAreTools.....  whatever, right? ('cept toys 'r tools--- none of that, please) Basically, I was all low-key too. Everything was cool. Every toy is educational. I see merit in everything. I never write bad reviews. I'm not a teacher, therapist, just a mom with lots of bills to such people. This is what I love to do and I'm trying not to get a "real job." la la la... 

image courtesy of Don Carter

At some point in your life, one must face oneself in the mirror and tell oneself that she is full of shit. But how? Simple, create a logo. Define who you are in one singular image. If you can do that, you can really see your reflection in that mirror. Your logo designer is the one wiping off all the crud that you have been slapping onto said mirror so that no one could really see the real you, not even you. Honestly this whole exercise can be applied to your family philosophy too. Definition is a process, introspection is hard but well worth it.

image courtesy of Don Carter

image courtesy of Don Carter


So the great Don Carter, my logo designer, had a chat with me about me. Who am I? What is Toys are Tools? What am I trying to do? 

Who wants to answer these questions? Not me, but I think that is why Michele Slobin (she's behind Gryphon Design Collective- makers of fab books, story cards, other materials for kids) introduced me to Don Carter, a designer and illustrator.  Some of you may have seen his work including Disney Junior's Happy Monster Band.  He also illustrated Wake Up House! and authored/illustrated Get to Work Trucks!, both award winning books. 

Don's work for Gryphon Design Collective. image courtesy of Don Carter

Poor Don.I am sure I never answered any of his questions very well. The trouble with people who play with words all day is that they can talk too much but not say anything at all.

And yet, he managed to find it. And seriously, I was I the worst client ever. I have done marketing for clients too and I think I was worse than my worst client. I used to give advice like: "The words 'new ambulatory surgical center' in the heading isn't really catchy" or "don't make a popping sound when you talk about removing part of the skull in brain surgery" and the best was "You don't quote the bible to a minister on CNN about stem cell research. You just don't!

image courtesy of Don Carter

Luckily for me, someone who is good at what he does knows how to get to the core and bring it out. It's kind of like being a parent or a coach or a teacher (this is why teachers make excellent publicists). I have no idea what I said to Sir Don to lead him to make this incredible logo for me. It is so bold because it is forcing me to say what I'm offering to the world and how I do it. 

The logo says it all: I talk about learning and how we can do it in a fun way. That is it. No room in a logo for B.S.

But instead of an image of children playing, I needed to show a serious side because Toys are Tools is that too. That is why I love the brain look. I am very dedicated to finding out how to make learning more fun because in my eyes, learning is not always fun, not always effective and the worst part is if there is effective and fun learning tools out there, it is not always accessible. That is unacceptable to me. 

In a world where education looks more and more like managed care everyday, Toys are Tools will continue to work to make play and learning more functional, fun, and fair. I will be doing that by continuing to write reviews here and on my blog at and at Quartz, where I will be writing about things that concern us most when it comes to education, play, and toys. Thanks for reading. Your thoughts are welcome.

I love big eyes!  image courtesy of Don Carter

Will report to you after Toy Fair starts- Feb 14th!  Pay attention to the photos to come! Ask questions! Tell me what piques your interest!


Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturers of anything mentioned here for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised


  1. Love the logo and branding- very thoughtful!

  2. Thanks once for this outstanding post.I would really appreciate it