When we received the information to be part of U.S Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program this year, we were immediately excited. MPA has participated in Toys for Tots three years and for each one, designing the box is always a lot of fun. This year was my first year participating not only in the Toys for Tots program, but also in designing the box for the MPA.
We first brainstormed some ideas for the box, thinking about the many different ways that it could be evolved. We thought about its shape and what it could potentially represent, I thought of anything from Santa’s bag of presents to covering the entire box with playing cards. After coming up with a good list of ideas I met with Sarah and Jessica to finalize the design. The idea that made the most sense to us was transforming the box into a toy train since the Toys for Tots logo is a train and because toys trains are classic toys. We created a rough sketch of what the train would look like and a general color scheme and I soon got to work on figuring out how big the extra pieces would be; I kid you not, I even used SOH|CAH|TOA!
After getting all the math work out of the way, the fun part was next. Jessica, Sarah, Caitlin and I used foam core and cut all the pieces, the front grill of the train, wheels, wheel gears, lights, smoke, and a smoke stack. We wanted the train to look metallic so we bought 3 cans silver spray paint and in between cutting the pieces, we went out to our roof deck, and sprayed it. That must have been a sight to see: four of us out there (in the cold) to avoid getting the paint blown back at us. It’s safe to say it was a bit of an experience. With everything cut out we were ready to go and put everything together, but with the box drying, we played a bit of a waiting game.
Finally, by the end of the day, the box was dry and the last think that needed to be done was to draw on the box black lines to make it look as if the train was made out of smaller sheets of metal that were screwed in. I will say, I was pretty impressed by how well Sarah and I could draw little circles, no stencils needed! And then came the glue, the wheels, the grill, smoke stack and the most exciting, the lights were quickly assembled creating our beautiful toy train!
By the next day, our Toys for Tots box was overfilling with toys donated by all of my coworkers. There was makeup, a guitar, stuffed animals, kitchenettes, trucks, a foosball table, dolls, puzzles, cards, arts & crafts, a basketball, soccer ball, football, the list goes on and on. I was touched at how generous everyone was.
The moment came to bring the box over to the Allsteel Showroom where they were hosting the Design Your Own Box competition. Sadly, ours did not win but we are still extremely proud of it. It was a lot of fun to be a part of this and to see all the other boxes designed by other firms.