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The engineered dreams behind your favorite toys

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Remember how much joy you got out of your toys as a kid? Of setting up intricate battles between Jedi action figures and Tickle Me Elmo? Of building elaborate castle-turned-space station with Lego blocks? Of wondering if there really are rules to Mouse Trap outside of just building the thing and then hoping it works? (There's joy in that, somewhere.) As simple as these toys might seem, their creation is a complicated blend of arts of engineering — of dreaming big and turning those dreams into reality.

On this week's episode of Top Shelf, we talk with Judy Ellis, founder and chair of the toy design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology — the world's first such program, whose alumni have assuredly had some material impact on your childhood. We also talk to Michael Bisogno, creative director from Cardinal Industries, on how to design a game around licenses like Angry Birds or even ABC's Scandal. Finally, we sit down with Zach Gage, an artist and game designer perhaps best known for the iOS games Spelltower and most recently Sage Solitaire.