Freedom of Assembly
In the toy industry, there’s a concept called “play value,” says Jen Bilik, the founder of Knock Knock, a gift store and stationery company that recently diversified into playthings. “If there’s high play value, it means that there’s a lot of versatility in what you can do with the toy,” she says. “Regular stuffed toys have low play value.” Enter Clump-o-Lump, a series of adorable animals that each zip apart into three pieces, enabling kids to assemble their own hybrid characters. Created by the illustrator and designer Max Knecht when he was a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Clump-o-Lump will soon expand to include more animals, as well as books and merchandise. For now, the six existing characters offer plenty of possibil-ities. Two girls at a recent play test figured out the “twofer” (leave out the torso) and the “totem pole” (chain a bunch of animals together). “It’s a process of constant discovery,” Bilik says.