Martin Boudreault – Director of Product Design for MEGA at Mattel – on celebrating an iconic Beatles moment in bricks

Martin Boudreault, Mattel, MEGA, Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show

Martin, it’s great to catch up. To kick us off, how did you find your way into toy design? Was it always on the cards?
Well, my journey into design began with a passion for creativity and problem-solving. I’ve always loved building things and exploring how objects fit together, leading me to pursue studies in industrial design in college. This is where I had the opportunity to explore various aspects of product design.

During my free time, I’ve always enjoyed pop culture content such as games, movies and music. So while toy design wasn’t initially on my radar, it ultimately emerged as the perfect intersection of my skills and interests.

Martin Boudreault, Mattel, MEGA, Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show

Speaking of pop culture, you’ve recently reimagined an iconic music moment – The Beatles’ first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show – into a MEGA set. What are some key features of the set?
We wanted to emulate the atmosphere of The Beatles performing at the Ed Sullivan Show. To achieve this, we made the spotlights functional, allowing us to create these ambient light patterns and capture the essence of their iconic performance.

Additionally, the detailed and articulated figurines are a standout feature of this set, adding an extra layer of authenticity and collectability. They are designed to capture the personality of each member, enabling fans to pose them and recreate snapshots from this historic moment.

Martin Boudreault, Mattel, MEGA, Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show

They look great. Can you talk us through the early stages of designing the set? What got the ball rolling?
Absolutely! Designing a MEGA set – especially one as iconic as The Beatles – involves several key steps. We start by determining the concept itself. Will it focus on a particular album, era, or aspect of The Beatles’ career? This initial step is crucial for establishing a clear vision for the set.

Additionally, we collaborate closely with licensing partners and Beatles enthusiasts to accurately and respectfully capture the essence of the subject. The team then creates prototypes, undergoing multiple iterations and reviews as we go into development, refining every detail to ensure a level of authenticity that will resonate with fans.

Were there any tough design challenges with this set that you’re pleased to have cracked?
There are always challenges in toy design and cracking them is incredibly rewarding. For example, the arrows surrounding the stage aren’t aligned in a grid-friendly fashion… But the team found a clever solution to connect them, incorporating colour markers to guide the positioning of each arrow module, making the experience seamless and satisfying.

Martin Boudreault, Mattel, MEGA, Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show

Smart! And on that, how did you gauge how difficult a build this set should be?
Well, the timeless and universal appeal of The Beatles span across generations and diverse backgrounds – including individuals without prior experience in building sets. Our goal was to craft an accessible yet sophisticated building experience, so it’s designed to accommodate builders of all skill levels.

Away from the Fab Four, what other licensed sets have got your fingerprints on them? Does one stand out as being a particular highlight?
From the get-go, let me say that The Beatles set already holds a very special place in my heart. During my 18 years at MEGA, I’ve had the privilege of working on a variety of different themes. From launching Halo in 2009 to overseeing the design of the largest MEGA set so far with Snake Mountain in 2022; each project presents its own challenges and rewards. In most recent memories, I also have to mention the buildable Xbox 360, another fandom fuelled project.

Martin Boudreault, Mattel, MEGA, Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show

Some knockout brands there; how does The Beatles compare?
As a designer, having the opportunity to create a building set that celebrates such an iconic and beloved band was incredibly inspiring and rewarding. It allowed us to connect with new audiences and design a product that not only acknowledges the cultural impact of The Beatles, but also brings joy and nostalgia to builders of all ages.

Martin, this has been great. Before I let you get back, how do you fuel your creativity?
I’m surrounded by a team of very talented and innovative people. They inspire me every day! Collaborating and bouncing ideas off each other is a great way to spark creativity. Toy designers bring a playful and curious mindset to every challenge, drawing inspiration from a wide range of passions and interests of their own. We like to say that our creations are built for the fans, by the fans!

I think that shines through. Thanks again Martin. And UK fans can find that set here.

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