Design_Lead_Play’s Darren Lee Phillipson on crafting toys for Gigantosaurus

Darren Lee Phillipson, Design_Lead_Play, Gigantosaurus
Darren, it’s always great to catch up! You’ve recently teamed up with United Smile to design a toy line for the popular animated kids’ show, Gigantosaurus. The range is being previewed at the LA Toy Previews ahead of a 2023 launch. What is it about the show that makes it a great fit for toys?

Who doesn’t love Dinosaur toys? Gigantosaurus is now in its third season and this gives kids plenty of opportunities to re-enact all the fun stories with the toy line. I really like the overall character styling, especially the look of our titular character, Gigantosuarus. It has been fun to explore what type of product features he lends himself to.

Talk us through how you approached creating the range? What steered your approach – and do you have a ‘go-to’ system for ideation generally?
My ultimate goal was to come up with what I call a “World Of” approach. Many of the toys in the line are designed at the same scale and can all work together… Basically what the toy industry would refer to as an eco-system of play! This is a typical path for me when I am looking to develop a line of figures, vehicles and playsets. I like thinking about how all the toys will be played with by the kid and I think it’s a good solution for the consumer to encourage multiple purchases across the toy line.

Darren Lee Phillipson, Design_Lead_Play, Gigantosaurus

What have United Smile been like to collaborate with?
United Smile has been a fantastic partner. I initially came up with the P.L.A.Y.1™ (Product Line Architecture Year 1) document that helped to flesh out the introductory line. United Smile got on board with all the concepts very quickly and we were able to rapidly move to 3D modelling so we could look at launching the toy line in an expedited time frame.

For anyone that hasn’t partnered with your consultancy – design_lead_play_ ­­– on a project before, is this typical for the sorts of things you collaborate with companies on?
Yes, design_lead_play_ is a consultancy that supports both the toy manufacturing and kids entertainment industries. Most of our work revolves around developing product for toy manufacturers and helping studios on a global level to create highly toyetic and consumer product-friendly content.

I also have another company with three other partners called Bionic Bacon where we create our own unique kids content… More to come on that later!

Absolutely, and great name – Bionic Bacon! For anyone that’s reading who wants to connect, how can they do so?
Any prospective partners can contact me directly at [email protected]. Also, please feel free to check out my Product Showreel at

Great stuff. Finally Darren, how do you fuel your creativity? What sparks inspiration for you?
That is certainly the million dollar question! Travel really helps to get my creative juices flowing. I enjoy visiting cities around the world to experience their culture and gain a first-person insight into their design sensibilities. This can come in the form of the street fashions, architecture, graffiti, music, the art scene or even the automotive brands. Essentially, anything that has a visual appeal… It all acts as inspiration and helps to inform me about the tastes and consumer habits on both an international and domestic level.

Fab. Thanks for this Darren – and good luck with the Gigantosaurus toy launch!

To stay in the loop with the latest news, interviews and features from the world of toy and game design, sign up to our weekly newsletter here

Stay up to date with the latest news, interviews and opinions with our weekly newsletter
Back to top arro

Sign Up

Enter your details to receive Mojo updates & news.