THE FIRST AND most basic requirement for anyone who wants to work as a toy designer is to be competent at drawing. Next, he or she should have a real interest in creating something from scratch and the ability to take an existing concept and improve it. These days, computer proficiency is a prerequisite, along with the willingness to work with specific design-related programs. Everything begins with having the right kind of creative flair. Raymond Yuen, economist for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said a person interested in toy design would typically 'not only like kids, but be kid-like. Often, the end user wants something different from what the designers have envisioned, so being able to think like a child is useful.' Knowing what will sell requires a great deal of research, and not only into market trends and previous sales figures. James Lim, director of toy design company COG, said a designer of educational toys should be familiar with current teaching methods. 'This is the only way to get the content correct, which is vital. Also, you have to look at educational toys from the publishing angle [if there is a tie-in with a book],' he said. Mr Yuen said toy designers should have an understanding of the raw materials used and how moulding, parts and components work. Clinton Li of Ontex Industries International advised those considering what courses to take to study product design in other areas in order to get a broader range of ideas and understand different techniques.