Meet Creative Factor’s Newest Advisory Board Member: Spirit Halloween’s Carlos Mendoza

November 29, 2021 | Toy News Tuesday editors chatted with Carlos Mendoza, art director of Spirit Halloween’s animatronics team and hard lines division, about his new role as an advisory board member of Toy Fair’s Creative Factor educational programming and his perspective on how the toy industry can better serve the designer and inventor community.

TNT: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the toy industry specifically as a designer, illustrator, and artist?

I have been in the toy industry for over 15 years, working my way around different toy companies and finding the best way to use my illustration skills in my design process. I didn't go to school for toy design, or take any product design classes for that matter, so I’ve only ever had my ability to draw and illustrate. By clearing drawing out my ideas, I was able to give people a visual sense of what a project could be which later would become my conceptual illustrations process down the line.

I learned from art directors and engineers that worked alongside me on many projects. During my time at Spin Master, I really gained an understanding of what the expectations and needs were in a studio. There, I was able to hone my skills across various projects that included illustrations, design, and ultimately, my love for toys. After that, I was hooked on the possibility that I could create my ideas and illustrate them as well, creating new opportunities for me to illustrate packaging, marketing visuals, and presentations, and develop product across the board. 

TNT: Why was it important for you to get involved with the Creative Factor Advisory Board and what are some of your goals for the Creative Factor moving forward?

As an artist and designer in our industry working in the trenches, I have seen the need for more events to network for both artists and designers, as well as students, wanting to grow and participate in new opportunities and conversations. It’s also about creating new opportunities for these groups to feel a part of a community that allows for them to interact and share insight. I feel that with my network and experience, I can help bring all these elements together. My goal would be to bring together all in attendance at Toy Fair, a hub where creative minds can socialize, learn, and inspire each other.  

TNT: What are some of the ways the industry can better support inventors and designers, and why do you think it’s important to offer new types of programming at Toy Fair for this community?

There are so many creative minds that need a voice and an opportunity, and it takes just one opportunity to make an idea a reality for most inventors. I believe Creative Factor can serve as a platform for these creative minds to share knowledge and expand our industry. It can also inspire new generations and new ideas so that we stop becoming a copycat industry and be more innovative. 

TNT: For inventors/designers who have never been to Toy Fair before, what is your advice to them?

For designers, come prepared by bringing along your work digitally, something someone can review quickly and provide feedback. Typically, no one is there to review portfolios, but you never know who you will meet so always be ready. Look and study what studios are doing and what is trending. Familiarize yourself with the studios and see what or where you would thrive the best.

For inventors, make sure that you are careful and mindful of who or what you share. Studios are always looking for the next great idea. Looking for opportunities is key, and you want to be aware of what is already getting put out to market. Look for the patterns in presentations and make sure you look at what is missing, this is what will encourage you to fill that gap. Studios always want something the other doesn't have so go in with a strategy.  

TNT: Any final thoughts to add?

Yes! I want to work with the best artist, designers, and innovative people, the thinkers and the problem solvers. I always have. I want to see our industry thrive in new technology and creative ideas. Networking will be the key to bringing these artists, designers, and inventors together at Toy Fair where all creative minds gather. 

Visit to learn more about the upcoming Creative Factor educational sessions at Toy Fair, taking place February 19 through February 22, which will include roundtables, presentations, workshops, and panels focused on the interests and goals of inventors, designers, and others in the creative community. Sessions will be held throughout the four days in the Theatre on Three of the Javits Center.