Former Microsoft and Disney designer Crystal Jade Vaughan talks us through her leap into toys with 3A Toys, MilkyBot and the Beaver Industries universe.

DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Crystal Jade Vaughan and Beaver Industries

I may be a training pilot, a lover of history, aerospace and industrial design, but my dream legacy is to create believable and filmic stories that can translate into quality toys.

I don’t originate from design directly. In fact, I was interested in weaponry, AFV’s, aviation, and other confidential areas of defence. It was a dream career, but it wasn’t sustainable.

I studied to be a filmmaker, later graduating with a degree in traditional 2D animation. I worked at Shepperton Film Studios as an assistant art director and concept artist. Later going on to Microsoft’s Lionhead Studios, Disney Consumer Products, and Microsoft’s London studio as a video game concept artist.

It was a natural ascension and dream to develop my own franchise and intellectual property with 3A. It gave me hope that outside of a mass corporation we could do things differently, and still reach a like-minded people. 

I left my job at Microsoft and went to work for Ashley Wood. I felt a gravity that it was all I wanted to do, and an intuition that it was the right thing to do. Wood’s designs are powerfully strong and rich with narrative. I knew he’d understand my tastes and vision, being an artist himself. I needed a mentor that could see potential and knew how to channel it.

3A was exactly what I was looking for. It’s humbling, dynamic, and dredged in verve.

Designing toys is really a medium that connects to so many other storytelling devices. For me, I wanted to create a world and a platform people could aggregate to.

I wanted to develop an IP that had potential to be a movie. Something gritty, immersive, and real.

My toys represent a physical item that typified and distilled the whole story, every sound, every bit of atmosphere, environment – every key epic shot.

How could I concentrate that all down into a tangible element that people could hold close to them? Where people could take in their backpack, or put on their desk, and feel connected to the universe it came from? It was more than a toy. It was a portal.

Ultimately, I’m working to translate those elements beautifully to screen. When you make a robot model, to the quality and detail 3A are capable and able to configure, it’s not so hard to imagine it transported and upscaled, into something alive and real. 

When I design the robots, it’s like I take out my heart and put it inside that robot. I keep staring at it over and over just hoping, that it’ll open its eyes. I keep working on the blueprints until I hear the heartbeat stronger, and when the pulse is just right, I take the design to production. I feel something when I design, and I want to share that connection.

The ultimate level would be to watch the robots move through an existent and heaving industrial scape, set in an epic, vast and beautiful wilderness, and for it to captivate people’s imaginations and push them to find their own creative reach. And that’s just it, anything that dominoes creativity is a language in itself.

Like a smile that passes purely from person to person, I want something that people can connect over, and that represents something of themselves on a personal level.

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