What’s better than a playhouse? A playhouse kids can make themselves, and transform into a boat, a car, a tent, a puppet-show stage and other fun structures.
That’s the idea behind MegaDo, a new 100-piece educational construction kit rolling out internationally from Israel’s Keter Kids. It was designed in conjunction with Netanya-based Yama Design – the same creative minds behind futuristic inventions such as the City Transformer folding car.
“The product is very innovative — something that doesn’t exist today in the market,” says Yama Design cofounder Meir Lerer. The judges at the international Red Dot design contest agreed, bestowing a coveted Red Dot Award on Yama for MegaDo shortly before the kit hit the market in March.
The MegaDo story began when Yama partners met Shirit Schwartz, a Keter Kids development manager, at the 2012 Nuremberg Toy Fair. Yama was introducing its YetiToy tricycle, the first in a planned series of sleek injection-molded ride-on toys in the shape of animals. Yama had designed a booster seat for Keter Kids, and Schwartz suggested putting their heads together on a big new project.
Back in Israel, Keter’s in-house team and Yama designers Daniel Leibovics and Doron Livne began brainstorming a playhouse design and agreed on a do-it-yourself model for children four and older. Over the course of a year of development, they decided to make a kit with instructions for seven different construction possibilities.
“It gives parents a lot of free time, because once children start playing with it, they’re busy for hours. Daniel [Leibovics] took it home to his three daughters, and he said he got a free Saturday,” Lerer reports with a laugh. “What’s nice is that it’s not for only one child. It’s a very social toy.”
It’s made in Israel, and has a suggested retail price of $59.
Tomato slicer, people carrier
Lerer tells ISRAEL21c that the company of seven people was started in 2009. A full turnkey product development and design firm, Yama develops not only toys but also just about everything else: consumer electronics, safety and security products, outdoor furniture, medical devices, kitchenware and automotive products.
Like MegaDo, many of the products designed at Yama are sold by partner companies, such as the Lifetrac glucose monitor, the oliveXpress olive oil mill, the Verizon Smart Home System and the newly introduced OXO tomato and grape slicer. Yama recently made new bus shelters for the Haifa municipality.
Other products go straight from Yama to market — like the YetiToy tricycle, which has won several design awards. Next up in this product line are the YetiZoo and YetiCar.
One of Lerer’s cofounders is Eyal Cremer, an industrial designer with a degree from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and a master’s degree in transportation design from Umea University in Sweden. He worked at Volvo and Skoda in exterior and interior vehicle design, and is a senior lecturer at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv.
Among Cremer’s newest creations, in cooperation with racecar driver Erez Abramov, is the Erez Raider 2 FIA rally car that will be marketed in two versions — as a finished product and as a self-assembly kit. Cremer designed it with as few parts as possible to keep it light and dependable.
Leibovics, the third Yama cofounder, also has an industrial design degree from Bezalel and teaches at Shenkar. Lerer, the managing partner, holds degrees in law and business, and has experience managing product development, strategy and marketing as well as legal experience in commercial law and intellectual property.
Check the company’s website, www.yama-design.net, to see what’s coming next from this versatile Israeli design firm