A few years ago, my (five year old at the time) son asked me to help him build a toy. We went out to workshop and I asked “so what should we build?” He wanted to build a Star Wars AT-AT (Imperial Walker). I told him to draw a picture and he jotted down this sketch. I knew that his attention span in the shop would only be a few hours so we quickly transposed the sketch onto some plywood, and built this rough AT-AT which is about ten inches tall.
Since that day, our wooden AT-AT has been drawn on, dropped, stepped on and played with many times (including with a Lego Luke Skywalker being dangling by dental floss from the AT-AT’s mid section). And although it has seen some tough love; it’s still in great shape. Not only is it fun for kids, it also has architectural qualities, so i keep it on a low display shelf on my living room.
This one-off wasn’t the first toy I’ve built, but it was the first toy that I wanted to develop into a marketable product, so I took stock of my favorite features: chunky proportions, durable materials, articulating body parts, and a uniquely shaped back. For months, I considered modifying the design into a dog, but eventually realized that an American Bison would be more appropriate - it has much more architectural features including a strongly sloped back. This realization was the inception of our Tectonic Bison which is an appropriate icon of using all of the bison” because the wooden Tectonic toys are built with remnants from our chair manufacturing that would otherwise be thrown away. To read more about our sustainable practice of optimizing material, read our previous post entitled The Sushi Technique.