My best friend Cecily has a two-year-old named Zoe, and when I design for kids, I’m designing for Zoe. Ultimately, with my night light concepts, I was primarily thinking about Zoe.
While I tried to mine the depths of my cranium for any unique ideas, I kept coming back to the usual suspects: sources of light, and perhaps the emanation of music. I pushed myself to brainstorm within more conceptual realms, but just kept hitting blank walls. While I think a vintage-style camping lantern or flashlight could’ve been a neat decorative pillow or vintage-y collectible, all roads eventually led to the anglerfish. I mean, what creature on this earth has a cooler source of light?
Story & Target User
Thanks in part to Finding Nemo, the anglerfish is now a notorious deep-sea beast. And you know who loves beastly beasties? That’s right—kiddos.
This plush anglerfish is a bona fide predator—if your other stuffies aren’t careful, Zeeborgle might lure them in and gobble them up! In simpler terms, Zeeborgle is the ultimate ugly doll.
The target user is a child aged 3-6, who is still excited about stuffed animals and creating stories (and rivalries and scandals and dramas, oh my!), that may or may not involve one stuffie gobbling up another. They hopefully will not tug the light-up lure, as that would break the circuit and potentially put them at risk. More there to consider, I’m sure.
Planned Materials & Components
For the main body of the fish, including the dangly light lure, I plan to use a soft, fuzzy plush-style fabric. In addition to the fluff-stuffing, I’d like to put wire within the lure, so that it can be bent in different directions. The same fabric will be used for the teeth, which will be sewn and then attached separately. The fins will be a thinner, possibly shiny or metallic cloth, sewn onto the main body (note: I found it very tough to create wavy shapes at such small sizes). For the eye, I’d like to sew a mini plush oval, potentially with a small Velcro or magnetic component so that the eyeball can be moved to look in different directions.
Another neat feature would be Velcro on the teeth plus a pair of little fish that can then be “lured” into the mouth and caught in the teeth. I’m thinking this could be a fun interactive element, to extend the toy’s lifespan, before it gets relegated to the back of the closet.
Thoughts & Next Steps
Lots of anglerfish plushies exist on the internet (some of which light up, like this one, which is also a puppet). I was initially discouraged by this, but it was ultimately still the idea I was most excited about. To differentiate it from existing toys, I thought about the adjustable wire lure and the Velcro within the teeth. Even better would be if the little fish got gobbled up all the way into the stomach—maybe something to explore in my next iteration. Also, I feel like my current prototype leans in the “ugly doll” direction, which is different from the other versions I’ve seen in circulation.
Very excited for the next stage and keen for any suggestions!