Kids2's Very Own Music Man!
Scott Wells, Sr. Content Development Manager, Atlanta
Kids2 sat down with Scott Wells, Sr. Content Development Manager, on our Advanced Innovation team to learn more about how he makes our Kids2 products sound so good! Learn what projects Scott has worked on over the years, what products bring him joy, and which childhood toys kept him entertained as a kid!
Q: What is your role as a Content Development Manager on the Global Design & Innovation team?
A: I manage the planning and execution of the audio content for all of our Home and Play products, either following a designer’s direction, or my own, utilizing various specialist resources outside of the company for melody composition, voice-overs, and sound effects. I give the toys their noise!
Did you know?! Many Kids2 toys have character voices from different voice actors who work with animated films! Instead of having the scary, real dinosaur noises or grizzly lion roars, Scott works with different people to record the more joyful sounds for our character toys! When he needs additional sounds or extra chicken clucks to add to a product, he’s even recruits Kids2 team members to help with the recordings and vocalize the sounds!
Q: How long have you been at Kids2?
I started working for Kids2 in 2002 as Product Development Manager, supporting Bright Starts toys and later promotions and licensed toys under Baby Einstein and Winnie the Pooh. At the end of 2005, I began solely managing our product’s audio content and have remained in that role since, excluding a recent interval when I was supporting Kids2’s connectivity efforts.
Scott jumps in as early as he can to work with our innovation team and global engineers. Collaborating with designers at every stage allows him to understand the character and create the best content from concept to final realization.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I enjoy the project research, discussion, and planning but executing the actual content builds is the most fun; iteratively adding and refining the sonic quality and game flow of each product is very rewarding. The content development process interleaves many of the product development milestones and presents a unique perspective on the Product Development process.
Scott manages hundreds of audio files and ensures each product is cultivated with the most playful sound! There is more than one drum beat or unicorn sparkle, so we’re thankful for Scott’s leadership over the years identifying the best quality sounds for each toy, from baby to toddler!
Q: What attracted you to Kids2 and baby products?
A:I was in Business Development working for a local design firm and was watching Kids2 hire more and more Product Development resources. When a former colleague decided to leave another design firm where we worked together, I recommended he check out Kids2. He did and was promptly hired. He then helped me come on board about nine months later. Kids2 was unique in that we developed a lot of products and most of them were put into production.
Scott graduated from Auburn University’s design school in technical design. His career was very hands on throughout the development industry having a part in each aspect of the product creation from research to concept and building the prototypes.
Q: What has been the most fun & rewarding product or development you have worked on?
A: Supporting the Toddler Toy effort was the most rewarding because it was so painful and difficult, at least for the first two years. We learned everything we didn’t know about content and play patterns developing the Toddler Toys. That said, developing the magnetic drive products was probably the most technically rewarding- that was blue sky engineering and very challenging!
My favorite Kids2 toys are the Baby Einstein Crib Soothers and our Bright Starts, Having-A-Ball line.
I like the Activity Tables a lot, too.
There is so much more we can do with Crib Soothers- and Soothing in general- that nobody else does well.
Thinking back, I liked our older Plush Toys a lot because they had amazing longevity and presented an exceptional value. The Prayer Friends we developed and produced many years ago were beautiful products, and I still have a couple lying around- although they belong to my dogs now.
When Kids2 decided to expand their product portfolio, Scott was a part of the team diving into what the future of toddler toys could look like. Working on the Toddler Toys brought more resources in 2010 to 2011, including expanding technical options with motor lights plus having more fun & even sillier test and learns. Scott spent five years exclusively focused on the Bright Starts Having-A-Ball toys while the Toddler division was executing at a very high level!
Q: Favorite Kids2 Memory?
A: I’ll never forget the early trips to Kowloon/Hong Kong when there were only a two or three people in the first Gateway Tower office; Beverley Lau and Thomas Lee were gracious hosts during those early trips, and the experience was magical. I remember watching clouds roll over Victoria Peak toward the "Bat Man" tower they were still building on the island. It’s amazing that we have scaled to hundreds of employees in Asia from that small, initial foothold.
I also recall a wintry drive up to our North Point office in the late evening during an ice storm at the beginning of 2011 to validate IC codes for the emergent Toddler Toy line. The office was closed, and the streets were horrible, but we ended up releasing those projects on time, and they were very successful. There have been many similar moments over the years!
Q: Anything special we should keep an eye out for coming down the pipeline?
A:Our Baby Einstein-Hape products are really interesting and fun to play with; the recent products punch well above their age grading and have a broader appeal. We developed several new approaches to content and coding for these toys and the products improve with each effort.
I’m looking forward to consolidating and simplifying our existing content assets with an eye towards communicating the available options in simpler, more accessible terms, as part of a Systems Reengineering effort for Kids2’s Play and Home content.
Q: What was your favorite childhood toy?
A:All things GI Joe - actually, Action Man, because I lived in the UK at the time. I vividly recall playing the Evil Knievel Motorcycle toy and (for some reason) the "Mousetrap" game.
These were followed by Model Rockets (in multiple phases), building the entire portfolio of MRC-Tamiya WWII models, and then radio-controlled cars and boats. I currently have some boats and flying things laying around that require more attention, but DIY home projects eats up most of my free time lately.
Q: If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?
A:Some form of consumer product development, possibly toy development. I prefer a soup-to-nuts development approach where the designer guides the project from sketch to prototype to engineering models, with support from talented mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, machinists, and manufacturing partners. This approach to product development isn’t very prevalent today but still exists in the inventor community.
Q: What would you tell someone looking to work at Kids2? Why join the team?
A: Where else can you help develop a significant number of consumer products that actually go to market and are successful? Toys and Gear are tough businesses that require surprising discipline and competence to succeed, but the projects are really fun. We work on cool things that our consumers love! And you will be surrounded by so many exceptionally talented people – this doesn’t happen in most businesses!