Our columnist is intrigued by a new way of funding toy development: Kickstarter.

DAVID SMITH: Take the pledge

As a child, I didn’t waste time wondering how a toy had been created, I just implemented my binary system of toy assessment – I either wanted it, or I didn’t.

Since launching ToyTalk, I have had the chance to follow several toys and games through the process of development and refinement, often seeing a prototype at Toy Fair and then, hopefully a finalised product in time for the Christmas market.

Things don’t always work that smoothly. I’ve also witnessed some failures (a company had a brilliant battleground range several years ago, but it never made it to market).

A toy can trip up over any number of hurdles. Unless you are talking about something extremely simple you are probably looking at a considerable sum of money even to get a prototype developed, and then you need to see if anyone actually wants it.

Finances must therefore be one of the biggest obstacles, so it was interesting to see a new approach to tackling that obstacle land in my inbox.

Looksi Pups are a new electronic toy, drawing on the appeal that made Tamagotchi such a hit. The difference with Looksi Pups is that after downloading a free app, and choosing your pup, you put it in a real kennel and play with it and, with nifty mirror work, it creates an effective 3D impression.

Looksi Pups seem like a good idea to me, but what really caught my eye was the way their development is being funded. To take the next step (the finalising of the app and large-scale production), the inventors are asking for support via the Kickstarter program.

Those who want to see Looksi Pups in the shops (or just like the idea) can pledge support. As little as £1 or as much as £3,000 will earn various rewards (you will be able to get a personalised version of the toy featuring your own dog if you opt for the top most pledge).

A total of £20,000 is needed for the project to proceed with the promise you won’t have to fulfil your pledge if the project doesn’t get the go-ahead, and by the time you read this the decision will have been made.

I can’t help but hope that these pups make it. I like the idea as much as I like pups, and I am a big fan of the innovative way it is being funded.

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