In the movie "Big," Josh Baskin's childlike enthusiasm (he's a child trapped in an adult body, after all) earns him a dream job testing toys for the MacMillan Toy Company. You're probably not going to find anyone who will pay you to sit around and play with toys all day, but there are legitimate jobs out there where toy testing is all in a day's work. Take toy manufacturing. Those engineers and designers who dream up the latest toys and gadgets put in plenty of real work, but they also enjoy one fantastic job perk: They get to be the first to play with their creations. Of course, it's strictly business — someone has to determine whether those rockets fly high enough, those building blocks fit together or that action figure looks just right — but part of the design and engineering phase is toying around with each prototype until it's perfect and ready to head to store shelves.
If you're interested in a career as a toy maker, consider studying mechanical, electrical or industrial engineering. The field also needs industrial designers and graphic artists to create the right look for each product. Project management, research and development employees and finance professionals help make the dreams of engineers into something that makes financial sense for the company. Once you've got the right mix of skills, check out the hiring pages for any major toy company — many have development and product design jobs listed right on their websites just waiting to be filled.
You can also make your way into the toy testing field by taking a job with an independent testing agency. Toy makers hire these companies to determine whether their toys meet federal and local safety standards, or to find ways to make products safer for kids. These jobs provide plenty of toy time as you look for sharp edges, small parts, dangerous chemicals and other safety hazards. While many different sets of skills can prepare you for these jobs, a focus on engineering, product design or chemistry can give you a leg up. Agencies like the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission offer similar opportunities.
If you're looking for some extra playtime but aren't ready to quit your day job, check out toy testing jobs for your kids with major toy retailers. Most are unpaid, but you usually get to keep the toys you test — and no one has to know that you're playing just as much as your kids. These jobs can be competitive, so increase your profile with a family blog or a strong social media presence to boost your odds of acceptance.