Could Sussex Uni students hold key to the next hit Shaun the Sheep toy?

Product design students from the University of Sussex have had the chance to pitch toy design ideas to the Oscar-winning studio, Aardman.

Designs by 28 students were put before Adam Vincent-Garland, senior interactive and product development executive at Aardman.

The initiative has been heralded as the latest success of the start-up toy and game inventor’s industry body Mojo Nation and its partnership with the University and its very own 12-week toy and game design module.

Through Mojo Nation, the University was able to link up with the Bristol-based studio Aardman and its R&D team. As part of the ongoing initiative, Aardman now has the option to incorporate its favourite student designs into the Shaun the Sheep product line.

Student Matthew Tuck, 21, received awards for best prototype and best overall design for his game Tractor Footy, which sees youngsters play football with remote controlled tractors.

“It was a really good experience to have my work reviewed by Aardman,” he said. “To have feedback from Adam, who is someone who is really respected in the industry, is invaluable.”

Second year product design students at the University of Sussex were tasked by Aardman’s Rights and Brand Development team to produce a toy which could be considered for the much-anticipated sequel to the hotly anticipated Shaun the Sheep Movie.

Students were asked to research the global toy market as well as manufacturing techniques and produce a high quality render or prototype of the toy that had been thoroughly user tested.

Aardman’s Adam Vincent-Garland, said: “The students did a great job and presented their ideas professionally with a good understanding of the brand and marketplace. It was brilliant to see so many interesting ideas with heaps of potential.”

Lauren Sampayo, 20, won the general arrangement drawing certificate for her toy which challenges children to build up the faces of Shaun the Sheep and Blitzer the Dog in the fastest time.

The link-up between Aardman and the University of Sussex was facilitated by Diane Simpson-Little, head of the product design degree at the University, and Mojo Nation’s Billy Langsworthy.

Simpson-Little, said: “This has been an absolutely fantastic experience for all students involved and the possibility that their design could become a toy for children around the world really is about as good as it gets for any product designer, whatever their level of experience.

“This has been a fantastic learning curve for all our students and a wonderful motivator not only knowing the potential of the prize on offer but in working towards delivering something that can match the high standards expected of such a popular global brand such as Aardman.”

Mojo Nation’s Langsworthy, added: “It’s great for a company like Aardman to engage with design students in such a way and hopefully more IP owners will follow suit in seeing what budding toy design talent can create for their licenses.

“If any firms want to work closer with the UK’s top design students, please do get in touch with us here at Mojo Nation.”