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PowerClix

Interview with Ethan Wadsworth, 16-year-old PowerClix® Explorer Series Artist for Guidecraft

Ethan Portrait (1)

Ethan Wadsworth

GC: Your artwork is so amazing and intricately detailed. When did you get seriously interested in drawing?

Ethan: I became really interested in drawing in first grade and by second grade I was drawing every single day.

GC: How do you describe your style?

Ethan: I’d say my style is very cute and friendly and it seems like something you would see and want to touch and pick up if you could. I’d also say it’s very modern, in the sense that, it’s kind of stylistically similar to a lot of things that are popular right now. It’s kind of Japanese influenced. You can put a face on anything and it can turn into a character.

My style has been evolving and changing over the years. Lately I do many characters whose proportions are similar to a real person but for this Explorer Series project, I decided to go back to characters that I used to draw so much a few years ago. They seemed appropriate for the toys. Again, they are very cute, friendly and inviting.

GC: What is a typical day for a 16-year-old professional artist?

Ethan: Well, I go to high school Monday through Friday but I basically draw all day in school on worksheets. I even doodle all over my tests! Some teachers like it and some don’t, I’d say. Then, I get home and draw a lot too. I’d say I draw 1-2 hours after school each day. I also do some Still Lifes now which is kind of a new thing for me.

GC: Any other interests?

Ethan: I am getting very interested in animation… making the pictures and characters move and watching them in action.

GC: How did you get involved with Guidecraft and PowerClix toys.

Ethan:  My mother and Heidi Bilezikian are both painters, and good friends from art school, and Heidi (who is married to Gary Bilezikian, the President of Guidecraft) loved my work so much she recommended that Gary take a close look at it and see if it would work for a project with Guidecraft. Then a year ago, Gary asked his son, Dan, and I to come in and do some builds with the PowerClix magnetic toys over winter break. That day, I brought some drawings and characters that I drew and showed them to Gary, his family, and everyone at the office and they really loved them. A few months later, I got a call from Gary and he said, we need someone to design some characters and they couldn’t find anyone whose work they thought fit. He said, “If you send your portfolio with some character designs and it works out, that you could have a job working on the new PowerClix project.”  It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. In the end, it will be a whole series of PowerClix toys (Explorer Series) with different adventurous themes. The first set’s theme is Space and the main character is an alien exploring planets with his jellyfish-like friend.  I am working on the next set which will be about Architecture and have been studying and drawing styles from around the world for the backdrop.

GC: What’s your favorite thing about the project?

Ethan: It’s just amazing that my characters are being used with and turned into an actual toy. There will even be a figure that I made included with each PowerClix Explorer set.

PowerClix Explorer Series - Space Set

PowerClix® Explorer Series – Space Set

GC: What was the process to get the toy done and how long did it take?

Ethan: First I showed some different characters I have done, then we picked a few themes (loosely based on them) that would fit with the PowerClix builds. Then after that, I developed a comic, backdrop and character for each theme so each set is different. I bring ideas to Guidecraft and we work out the details and make changes together. Then they take it from there, creating new magnetic sets (and colors) from all the PowerClix building toy shapes they have. The booklet that goes with the toy has a cartoon, backdrop and pictures of the real toy builds interacting with my characters and drawings.

GC: Who are some artists that you admire?

Ethan: Well, there are so many… David Hovarth, who designed the Ugly Doll series.

Aaron Meshon and his Let’s Hang zipper pulls, Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of the Studio Ghibli movies, and Hokasai, the classic Japanese artist who did 100 views of Mt. Fuji.

GC: Do you plan to go to college?

Ethan: Yes, some schools I am interested in attending are Pratt, RISD, SVA and Cal Arts. I would like to study Animation.

 

More on the PowerClix® Explorer Series – Space Set here!

 

 

 

 

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Unique Holiday Gifts for the Young Builders in Your Life

If you are looking for unique Hanukkah or Christmas toy gifts that are all together fun, unique, creative and happen to exercise those all important STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills, you’ve come to the right place.
Guidecraft has created several lines of open-ended building toy systems which draw inspiration from nature and the world around us, are just as fun to play with as they are smart, and are designed to appeal to both boys and girls. We like to create toy systems, so you’ll find new extensions added each year, bringing new dimension to the toy again and again. Here are 3 choices appropriate for children, 2 years old and up.
2 Years Old and Up

Better Builders Sub Category Banners

Better Builders is a wonderful first building toy; its unique rod and ball configurations, easily gripped by little hands, are held together with a strong magnetic force. Extend the Better Builders holiday fun by adding Career People, Community People and Better Builders Emotions!
Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s Platinum Best Toy Award.

4 Years Old and Up

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Our brand new IO Blocks are where the digital world meets the physical world in a building toy. Their design is based on the pixelated forms found in the virtual world yet they are made of a unique soft-touch plastic. The secure, friction fit interlocking system used by IO Blocks, is a satisfying and secure way to build puzzle-like structures and figures. Additionally, your child may enjoy the free augmented reality App which replaces the traditional building guide.
Winner of Tillywig’s Brain Child Award, The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval, Parents’ Choice Silver Award and is currently in the running for 2016 Toy of The Year!

5 Years Old and Up

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Also new this year, PowerClix Organics are the first magnetic toy to be inspired by organic shapes and forms found in skeletons, reefs, honeycombs, insects, plants and more. The beautiful new natural shapes and colors work seamlessly with their PowerClix predecessors, Solids and Frames, extending the entire toy system to unlimited design possibilities and encouraging children to think like engineers while having fun.
Winner of Parents’ Choice top Gold Award, The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval and Oppeneheim Toy Portfolio’s top Platinum Toy Award.

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Guidecraft’s PowerClix® Magnetic Toy System Wins Top 2015 Oppenheim and Parents’ Choice Awards

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Guidecraft is delighted to announce that its magnetic building toy system, PowerClix®, has earned top 2015 toy awards from two distinguished toy review organizations.

PowerClix® has won:

The Parents’ Choice Gold Award, their highest award, is given to the highest quality, most appealing products in their genre. Criteria for judgments include the highest production standards, universal human values and a unique, individual quality that pushes the product a notch above others.
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio has given its prestigious Platinum and Snap Awards to the entire PowerClix® system, including Solids, Frames and the new Organics. The Platinum Award is given to toys that represent the most innovative, most engaging new toys of 2015. The SNAP or Special Needs Adaptable Product Award is given to 2015 toys that can be used by or easily adapted for children with special needs.

Here is what the toy experts say about PowerClix®:

Parents’ Choice Review of PowerClix® Organics:  Guidecraft’s PowerClix® Organics 74-piece magnetic building toy puts straight lines to shame. The exquisitely translucent colorful pieces are tempting to look at and irresistible to touch. In short, “Resistance is futile.” The magnetic shapes exude a kinetic quality, adding life and energy to the structure, creature, or organism young builders create. There are large shapes the size of a small saucer and others that are three inch arcs, offering design opportunities and complexities that make for fascinating play. The click of the pieces is satisfying, the connection sure footed. A remarkable gift for builders, sculptors, scientists, art lovers and their families.

Oppenheim Review of PowerClix® Organics:  Colorful translucent plastics in interesting new magnetic shapes give kids a new range of possibilities for creating some amazing constructions with 74-pieces in eight different shapes. There are instructions for reproducing some 3-D constructions and following those pictorial instructions will challenge kids to stay with a task and use visual clues as they hone their eye hand skills. But it’s not just about reproducing a model. These pieces allow for discovery and open-ended creations. This is one of those STEM toys that gives children hands on experience with symmetry and spatial concepts and will be interesting to both girls and boys.

Oppenheim Review of PowerClix® Solids:  A 70-piece set of translucent magnified pieces in geometric shapes. These handsome pieces are an invitation for kids to explore creating new shapes and forms. It’s a more open-ended kind of building material that can be used to make abstract designs rather than heavily representational art. Kids are likely to reproduce what they see on the back of the box or in the creativity guide, but hopefully, before long they will try inventions of their own and learn about symmetry and balance in a hands-on unique way. This set, unlike others in the collection is designed for the younger players and all magnets are embedded inside the plastic for safety. 3 & up.

PowerClix® has been so well received in both the consumer and educational markets, that we have some exciting plans for new PowerClix® products in 2016!

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Becker’s School Supplies Collaboration with Guidecraft Results in Teacher-Friendly Product Development

Leslie Eslinger  - Becker's School Supplies

Leslie Eslinger – Becker’s School Supplies

Becker’s Education and Product Development Specialist, Leslie Eslinger, M.Ed., has her finger on the pulse of the education needs and interests of teachers. Guidecraft has 50 years of experience designing and manufacturing quality children’s toys and furniture to meet those same needs. So it’s no surprise that a collaboration between Becker’s School Supplies and Guidecraft wound up being a great place for Design and Education to meet.

 

Leslie told us that more and more teachers want to be intentional in their instruction and want to use every opportunity to build rich language skills and promote concept development in the preschool classroom.  As a result of years of close relationships with some key people at Guidecraft, Leslie felt very comfortable making suggestions as to how we might reinvigorate and extend a few of our products to provide extra educational value.

Beckers Bilingual Construction Road Sign Set

Beckers Bilingual Construction Road Sign Set

 

The first example of this collaborative process was The Bilingual Construction and Road Sign Sets, an exclusive Becker’s offering. Child-sized replicas of traffic signs have long been a popular part of traditional construction play – we’ve all played with them.  A simple update, to provide a Spanish translation on the opposite side of the sign, opened up the product to a whole new demographic and also provided a chance for English-speaking children to gain exposure to simple Spanish words while playing.

 

Teacher's workshop with PowerClix

Teacher’s workshop with PowerClix

The PowerClix® line of magnetic toys from Guidecraft is a perfect building system to develop highly valued STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). These sets have been tremendously popular in early childhood classrooms. Thinking that there was much more untapped learning potential with these materials, Leslie, along with the marketing team at Becker’s, proposed adding a set of child and teacher-friendly activity cards to supplement the PowerClix® sets. Combining Leslie’s educational content with Guidecraft’s design skills, a set of 23 activity cards were added to two of the PowerClix® sets as an exclusive product for Becker’s customers. The early feedback from teachers using these supplemental cards has been great, and the sales prove it!

 

Wedgies were the first toy created by Guidecraft, and with only minor changes made over the years, they continue to sell to this day. In the most recent collaborative effort between manufacturer and retailer partners, Guidecraft and Becker’s are creating a set of Conversation Cards to supplement the Wedgie Career Figures. Leslie hopes that these cards, with focused questions and discussion points, will make it easier for teachers to promote concept development. The conversation-prompts emphasize analysis and reasoning skills, problem-solving techniques and complex language skills. By January 2016, the Conversation Cards will be available as an exclusive Becker’s offering.

 

For more information or to purchase these Becker’s exclusives, visit http://www.ShopBecker.com.

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Build Your World!

Just in time for the release of the newest addition to our successful PowerClix® magnetic building system, follow little Sam and his pet baby rhino as he designs and builds an exciting new world completely out of PowerClix® toys in this new animated 1 minute video.

The video features all 3 PowerClix® sets which work seamlessly together; Solids, Frames and the brand new PowerClix® Organics, the first magnetic toy to be inspired by shapes and forms found in nature. In keeping with sought-after STEM toy attributes, it demonstrates the virtually unlimited building possibilities and sheer fun a child can discover when using all 3 colorful sets in the PowerClix® System.

Many thanks to Tongal and the CcPixels creative animation team for helping us capture the essence of the fun and creativity that PowerClix® inspires in children all over the world!

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