Ric Scott: Growing Up with Monkeys: The Winding Road That Sparked a 20+ Year Career in Toy Development

by Educational Insights | 09 Jan 2023

Biographies and Interviews

A Q&A with Ric Scott, Sr. Product Manager at Educational Insights

Interview by Clark Nesselrodt of Glorious Story


“You never know where life will lead you, especially if you keep an open mind,” says veteran toy developer, Ric Scott of Educational Insights, who prides himself on never saying “no.” This is the attitude that led him from furniture and car design to feature film art direction to theme park attraction design before finding his true calling in toys.


After working with some of the biggest toy companies in the world, Ric Scott now hangs his hat at Educational Insights, the California-based educational toy manufacturer committed to igniting the spark in every child. Learn more about his path, process, and commitment to sustainability, and how Educational Insights sparks Ric’s passion, below.


How did you get into industrial design?

When I was a kid, my dad was always making something, and I was always by his side. I started helping him in the workshop when I was about two (really!), eventually becoming the only kid in elementary school who was using a cutting torch at home. In college I was drawn to electrical engineering, but I missed the building and testing of physical things, which I found in industrial design. I consider myself a problem solver. Industrial design combines math, science, and design to find holistic solutions. I love applying these principles to consumer products.


You’ve been designing toys since 1995. How did you get started?

My first job was designing furniture with John Caldwell, a protege of Eames. I took the job to help pay for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena after my scholarship ran out. From there I pivoted into art direction for feature films, which eventually led me to designing theme park rides and attractions like the ET Ride at Universal Studios and the Fred Flintstone experience at the Warner Brothers Theme Park, which finally led me to toy design.


You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. What are some of your most memorable projects?

I’m proud of all of my designs. I built prototype Hot Wheels for Mattel, which was a dream come true, because I’m really just a seven-year-old in disguise. I was also part of an elite, mechanics-minded team that served as a consultancy within the Barbie Mainline team at Mattel, developing anything in the Barbie universe that would flutter, float, or fly. And I worked on some of the aspirational products that led Barbie into her various careers, which feels significant. The Barbie products I worked on brought in over a billion dollars in sales, which is about the same number of times I’ve brushed Barbie’s hair!


What drew you to Educational Insights?

Many of the products I’ve worked on in the past were all about the “wow moment”—and they really delivered. But I’m intrigued by the possibility of helping kids create their own wow moments, helping them bring forth something in the physical world that only exists in their mind’s eye. At Educational Insights, I’m designing products that allow kids to do this through electronics, robotics, and coding—the challenge here is ensuring kids are engaged, learning, and having fun all at once. That’s where our latest robot, PYXEL™ A Coder’s Best Friend, comes into play. PYXEL enables a kid’s creativity to lead as they code tricks for this four-legged coding friend and unlock new coding possibilities to get that “wow” moment. PYXEL just had a successful debut at CES earlier this month, and I’ll be sharing PYXEL’s robust coding capabilities with toy buyers at the Learning Resources stands at the upcoming toy shows in London (Stand D36) and Nuremberg (Hall 5, Stand B06-C05).


I’m also deeply motivated to create toys that last a lifetime, legacy products that kids can save and pass down to their own children. Educational Insight supports my commitment to sustainability and has several initiatives, like reusable packaging, that just feel right to me.



What is your design philosophy?

Design is like a pressure cooker. One of my former bosses used to challenge my team to turn a brand new concept into a promotional video in a single day, which is such a worthy exercise. I believe in failing fast and learning faster, which you can’t do if you’re not digging in and getting started.


And about those monkeys…?

My Dad was a truck driver in the ‘70s and yes, we had monkeys. I fed them and played with them and loved them. In turn, they taught me respect, showed me kindness, befriended me… I think that experience has informed my approach to designing for children. At Educational Insights we ask ourselves “What did we help a child learn today?” I think about that every day, ensuring that I am coming from a place of admiration and respect for the child’s mind and perspective, which I attribute to my years with my primate pals.



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With Educational Insights, kiddos can become backyard explorers with Geosafari Jr., creative architects with squishy squashy Playfoam, or puzzle masters with brain games like Kanoodle. For 60 years, Educational Insights has been developing and manufacturing award-winning toys and games that ignite the spark in every child! From hands-on sensory play to learn-to-code drawing robots, each toy and game is designed to “spark” more confidence, creativity, exploration, togetherness, play, and curiosity so kids can be whoever they want to be! Located in sunny Southern California, Educational Insights is a subsidiary of Learning Resources — based in Vernon Hills, IL. Learn more on our website and keep the play going with games, toys, and resources at https://sparkmoreplay.com. Get social with Educational Insights on TikTokInstagram,  YouTube,  Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn


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