Over the better part of 30 years, inventor Ruth Green-Synowic has developed many products for an array of clients including famous licenses and well-known companies. Educational products, apparel, medical devices, therapy aids, and toys have all been born of Ruth’s wonderful imagination and she has contributed to more than 1,500 playthings—an astounding number. In fact, Ruth was even responsible for contributing to the creation of several hundred “Happy Meal Toys” for McDonald’s during her tenure as the Vice President of a creative group.

As the president of her own product design consultancy called Ruth Green Inc., Ruth provides innovation, design, and branding services for toy and consumer product companies.

She creates consumer products (including toys), designs, and more. In 2008, she had the honor of being nominated for a Women in Toys Designer/Inventor of the Year award and achieved awards for Creative Excellence in 2009 and 2011. In 2017, Ruth’s arts and crafts creation—called Paint-Sation—won the title of Toy of the Year in France in the Crafts category. Moreover, the product line earned Ruth a nomination for a TAGIE award in the category of “Toy Inventor of the Year.”

Paint-Sation essentially enables Children to explore their creativity through Painting without making a mess. Even if one of the vibrantly colored paint pods is turned completely upside down, no paint will drip out.

Recently, Ruth granted an exclusive interview where she discussed designing the Paint-Sation product line, getting it on the market, and working as an inventor.

Inventing and designing toys and more

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you find your passion for inventing and/or designing toys and how did you become so successful in the industry?

Ruth Green-Synowic (RGS): I believe the Toy Industry found me. I have been brainstorming product concepts since I was about seven years old but I had never considered becoming a toy designer.

A couple of years after I graduated from college, I saw an ad for a toy designer position and decided to apply. I had no experience designing toys, but out of a hundred and fifty applicants, I was hired and began my first job in the Toy Industry with the prestigious toy design studio, Breslow, Morrison & Terzian (BMT – now Big Monster Toys), in Chicago.

After a few years at BMT, I worked in the Gift Industry and created my own line of characters which became plush toys, Mylar balloons, and other gift products.

Then, I spent over sixteen years on the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy business, first as a toy designer and eventually as VP of the Creative Department. This was the best training for a toy designer, - with the fast pace, frequency of generating new ideas and the opportunity to learn multiple facets of product development, including: creative strategy, R&D, engineering, industrial design, marketing, focus testing and consumer research, client relationships, and manufacturing. All this knowledge and experience sharpened my skills and it has been a great foundation for being an independent toy and product inventor.

MM: What are some of your most well-known playthings?

RGS: I have hundreds of Happy Meal toy concepts that have been sold worldwide. In addition to the Paint-Sation product line, I have Conduct Dough Lights by MindWare and I’ve played a role in developing and licensing Secret Pixx and KaBlocks; also by MindWare.

MM: Aside from toys and games, can you tell us a bit about your other inventions?

RGS: I have worked on a variety of products, including: Alzheimer’s therapy aids, medical devices, lifestyle/fashion items, educational products, recreational and household solutions.

Embracing arts, crafts, and painting

MM: How did you think up the idea—and the technology behind— Paint-Sation?

RGS: I spotted this technology being used for industrial purposes and knew it would be the perfect application for a children’s arts and crafts product line.

It was a real ‘aha moment’.

MM: What were the biggest challenges of designing Paint-Sation?

RGS: Finding the right name for the product line took a while, but the development of the Paint-Sation products actually went smoothly.

MM: What kinds of reactions have you gotten regarding this arts and crafts product line?

RGS: People are absolutely amazed at how Paint-Sation products are completely non-spill. At a recent trade show, I held the paint pods over kids’ heads and then dropped the pods face down on the table. People were astonished when no paint dripped. They instantly wanted to purchase the product. It is pure magic!

MM: How did you get Irwin Toys to pick it up and did they alter it much from the prototype?

RGS: I presented the concepts to Irwin Toy at an annual trade show and they instantly ‘got’ the vision. The designs were enhanced but stayed true to the original concepts and prototypes. Irwin Toy has been the perfect partner in developing the Paint-Sation brand and product line and for bringing it to the toy market.

MM: What was it like to be nominated for—and win—awards for your creations?

RGS: It was a real honor to be nominated for a TAGIE in the same category as Hasbro, Mattel and Spin Master and even more gratifying to win Toy of the Year in France, in the Crafts category.

MM: Are you planning to design (or actively working on) any other toys or games at the moment?

RGS: I am always brainstorming, designing, and developing ideas to pitch to toy and consumer product companies.

My most recent concepts were presented to toy companies that attended the Chicago Toy & Game Week Inventor Conferences.

MM: Is there anything else on your mind that you want to say?

RGS: I love Paint-Sation because it has created an entirely new level of creative freedom for children. With Paint-Sation, parents are much less inclined to hover and hamper their child’s creative time. It is so important to encourage kids to be inventive, curious, and creative. They are our future problem-solvers and we need to foster the opportunities and freedom for them to develop these crucial skills. Paint-Sation can help play a role in this development by introducing them to painting.