Lil Wish Lanterns is a new collectible toy line that light up with the pull of a string and the making of a wish. The set of 32 collectible Wishimals hail from the magical land of Wishlandia, a place of friendship, love, courage, and happiness.
The concept for Lil Wish Lanterns came from a storytelling experience that toy designer Phil Albritton had with his kids. Every night during the height of the pandemic he would tell his son and daughter a bedtime story. They made a wish for the world to heal and for things to get better. His children’s nightly wishes became the foundation on which the Lil Wish Lanterns universe was built.
Phil recently discussed his experiences as a toy designer via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in toys and begin your career?
Phil Albritton (PA): I grew up collecting and designing toys. My dad was a collector and my mom was a 2nd grade teacher. Play and education went hand in hand for us. I was hired by the toy company Kidpower after receiving my marketing and communications degrees. There, I learned the ropes of the industry and afterward founded my toy and game development studio, Power Kid. Today, 20 years later, my team and I continue to design and market toys and games for clients around the globe. We are a full-service studio that offers invention, illustration, branding, packaging, and consulting services.
MM: How did you come to work with Intersell Ventures and how did you come up with the concept for Lil Wish Lanterns?
PA: Intersell has been a fantastic partner and client for several years. I had previously partnered with them on other great products like Kickerball, Grip Velcro Catch and Magic Glitz Sticker Maker. The owner of Intersell, Anand Dhirmalani, showed me a small paper lantern he had purchased in Asia and explained the idea of building a girl’s collectible line around the concept. We immediately got to work developing the characters and lanterns.
MM: This brand focuses on positivity. How important do you think it is to instill positive thinking in children from young ages?
PA: Lil Wish Lanterns was born in the middle of the pandemic. During that time, I had many conversations with my kids about what was happening and why. I began telling them stories about tiny creatures called Wishimals that help to grant wishes. Those stories gave birth to places like Courage Cliffs, Happiness Hills, and Love Lagoon. Over the course of many bedtime stories the Wishimals soon had developed personalities of their own. I found that these stories helped my kids focus on the positive things that were happening around them. We have a mandate as adults to protect and encourage the younger generations. It is critical to help them see the possibilities, make big wishes and work hard for their dreams.
MM: How different did the prototypes look from the final pieces?
PA: Outside of some slight adjustments to the size the figures didn’t change much from concept to prototype. The lantern concept grew from a single lantern to four unique lanterns that represent each tribe. We did go through several iterations of the lantern’s function and electronics to ensure that a child could easily place the figure inside. We also tested several different LED light positions until we achieved the perfect look for the “wishing mode” light show that signals that your wish is on its way to Wishlandia!
MM: What’s your favorite aspect of this line and why?
PA: We wanted to make sure that every kid could have a wonderful light up experience. The starter packs include one of 4 unique lanterns while the triple collector’s packs include one of six unique Power Lights. Whichever you purchase you can begin to build your collection and display an amazing light show in your room! The free app is also a great way to learn more about Wishlandia and collect and play your characters digitally.
MM: What’s the best fan feedback you’ve gotten about Lil Wish Lanterns thus far?
PA: Lil Wish Lanterns has been very well received by moms, kids, and retailers. Moms tell us that they love to use the lanterns as a part of their regular bedtime routine. The kids love the characters and light up features. Retailers love that we offer a wide range of price points, display options and targeted marketing efforts to support them and drive customers to their stores.
MM: How do you hope the line will evolve over the next five years?
PA: We are working hard to see Wishimals on lunch boxes, coloring books and t-shirts. I believe that the story is endearing and unique. We are currently developing a series of live action play social media videos to tell even more stories about the Wishimals. Lil Wish Lanterns has great potential to become an animated series.
MM: What other toy lines have you designed in the past and are you working on any other new ones right now?
PA: I have been blessed to help develop hundreds of long running and award-winning products, including the Original Funnoodle, The Original Bounce Round, Zipes Speed Pipes, Wicked Big Sports items, Yo-Yo Ball, and Socker Boppers, and many others. I have also developed summer seasonal product under every licensed brand imaginable. Power Kid has had products placed at Target and Walmart every year since our founding. In 2017, we developed the top two selling products in the Walmart novelty section, and they are still selling strong today. We have some amazing new arts and crafts products in the works. Stay tuned!
MM: How do you envision working with Intersell Ventures further into the future?
PA: Intersell is a tight knit team of consumer products experts. They are excellent at choosing and marketing profitable innovative products. I look forward to continuing to help them invent, develop, and market great products in the future.
MM: What’s the best thing about working as a toy designer?
PA: Toy designing requires a balanced combination of art and engineering while also considering your customer. Every new project brings fresh opportunities based on the target demographic, category, and current trends. I enjoy the challenge. It is also massively fulfilling to be involved with projects like Lil Wish Lanterns that has the potential of inspiring children and expanding their imaginations!
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
PA: We are excited to see Lil Wish Lanterns grow into a beloved brand. You can buy them now on Amazon and search for product at #lilwishlanterns. I look forward to continuing to grow my studio and helping my clients achieve their goals in the toy and game market. Check out www.powerkiddesign.com and the Power Kid Podcast to learn more from me and my guests.