A group to discuss doing voice-over for interactive toys.
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  • Hi Rob,
    It actually varies by company. There are Toy Companies scattered all over. I know LeapFrog is actually in the San Francisco Bay area, Emerville a few blocks from Pixar. For the most part we hire Bay Area talent because we record in our own studio UNLESS, the talent is Union and required by the license. If we are doing a SpongeBob project then we have to record Tom Kenny - AKA: SpongeBob. This will happen in LA or New York or where ever the talent records the show and we either phone in to direct or fly to them.
  • Do you have to be in LA or NY to do toys? Or has the internet opened this area?
  • Hi Chuck, I thought I would drag a couple of my friends over. Very talented people with wonderful voices. Take care.
  • Hi Doug and Holly! Welcome to the toys group! Holly, I would love to hear about your experiences with Toys. I am coming at this from the other side so it is great to hear what your insights are.
    Holly, your voice is EXACTLY what toy companies love! We cast the youthful, bubbly, girl voice for characters and the young Mom sound you have is exactly what we look for in the story narrators for interactive books like, Dora, Ni Hao, Winnie the Pooh, and Disney Princesses.
    Doug, your voice really fits the older toys a bit more. At around 7 or 8 we have the character voices for boy projects get deeper and actually have "bad guys". For most toys the bad guy can never really be that bad though.
    Holly, I agree, it is really cool to see a kid enjoy something you made. The only parts I have gotten at this point are voices in the toys I Produced and other toys we made that I was not in charge of but tried out for. If a character has fewer than 10 lines then we audition for these internally or have the Voice Talent who are doing the main characters give it a shot and see if they can sound different enough.
    Sorry about my spelling below too. I guess I should use more of the learning products I worked on. :)
    Once again, I am so happy that we have doubled the size of this group. I hope that the discussions here are helpful. I love creating characters and bringing them to life as the friends that kids carry around and interact with.
  • YAY! A group for tOyS! And at the perfect time of year!

    Hi Chuck! I'm Pat's other friend. I hear he's got at least 2. haha! (Sorry Pat. I saw an opportunity and I took it!) I met Pat on the Voicelympics Cruise too. And Doug is my polar opposite!

    I'm looking forward to hearing what works and what doesn't! I've done some toy voices and I gotta tell you it's the coolest thing EVER to see a kid enjoying your voice on a cool little toy!

    I would love any further insight you can share with us on what you look for in a voice. Enunciation (or however you spell that!), diction, energy....YES! Makes perfect sense!

    Thanks for creating this group!

    Holly Franklin
    great BIG little voice
  • Hi Chuck,

    My friend Pat Sweeney suggested I join your group. Pat and I got to know each other on the VoiceLympics Cruise and spent hours playing around with our animation voices. I've been doing cartoon work for about a decade - and it seems to be a natural fit to voice toys - especailly if a "bad guy" is needed :-).

    Thaks for the opportunity to learn about this dream come true gig.

  • Chuck,
    Thanks very much for taking the time to explain things. I am presently constructing my web site and in the process of getting 3 demos (commercial, narration and medical narration) produced and will be out marketing myself very soon. Presently don't have an agent but will keep everything in mind that you mentioned below and follow-up on it.

    I look forward to future posts and seeing out group get bigger.

    Thank You
  • Patrick,
    The first thing toy companies are looking for is ENERGY! If you listen to the voices coming out of most of the infant/toddler even up to first or second grade toys, one thing you will notice is that the voices are very high energy. When you are in the booth or auditioning for these parts, most of the auditions we get are not quite high enough energy for the part.
    The second thing your audition should have is very clear anunciation of the words. Your voice will be used in a toy for a child who is learning to speak and most toys have very cheap speakers and processors so your voice will be compressed so much that all your lines put together would fit in a 1 MB disc and you would still have space for all the code.
    As far as marketing yourself to toys, if you have an agent, let them know you are interested in doing toys. At least at LeapFrog, we only cast through auditions for upcoming parts and the agents send those out to their clients who they believe can do it. We send the audition copy and a character description to the local talent agencies. For us that is Stars, Tonry Talent, and sometimes Look.
    Another VERY valuable skill is showing a talent for doing "sound-a-likes". Quite often a particular celebrity talent does not have time to do all the games, toys, and promotional items for the animated movies they are cast in. We are then given the go ahead to cast someone who can sound like that celebrity. An example is Dustin Hoffman, he was in Kung Fu Panda and we did a Kung Fu Panda interactive book. We went out and cast someone who could do an amazing Dustin Hoffman (unfortunately we got tons of people who sent their Rainman impressions in too).
    I looked up Toy Companies in Canada and found that the makers of WebKinz. a company named Ganz is just north of Toronto. I know the online world for WebKinz is always expanding and I do not know what else Ganz has in the works.
    I hope this is helpful!
    Take care,
  • Chuck, my first question is how would anyone get their voice on a toy, should VO Actors take any specific steps to target this market?
    Thanks, happy to be the first to join.
  • Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for joining the group. You're my first group member! If you have any questions about the voices in toys or anything you ever wondered about the electronic toy business please feel free to bring it up.
    I am happy to help or discuss in any way.
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