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Elmer’s Squishies

Newell Brands

Case Study


Creating a DIY Crafting Experience
for the Entire Family

Enabling the #1 craft brand to expand into a new category at the speed of business. 

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Elmer’s Squishies is a hands-on inventive DIY kit empowering kids to create their own surprise squishy characters. The full product line consists of 80 mystery characters to collect, brought to life by mixing together a colorful formula that is poured into a ‘Mystery Mold.’ After 60 minutes, a unique character snaps out of the mold, ready to play with friends and family.   


The Elmer’s glue brand is synonymous with crafting activities for kids and adults. Looking to expand into new learning & development experiences that inspire kids’ imaginations, Elmer’s identified a new opportunity that mixed together two of the hottest toy trends - squishy toys and the homemade slime craze. Already innovating in the slime category by creating colorful glues with vibrant hues and glitter, the time had come to merge these two trends into a physical and digital storytelling strategy. 

Newell Brands, Elmer’s parent company, approached IN2 with an extreme challenge. Product needed to be on store shelves for back-to-school shopping - a seemingly impossible deadline given the timing. Additionally, an entirely new development process and workflow needed to be created for 80 digitally sculpted, production-ready characters from scratch! Furthermore, the project would only be successful with an extraordinary level of collaboration and project management. If you know us, then you know we’re excited for a ‘design at the speed of business’ undertaking! 


A Sticky Challenge

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The first hurdle was evaluating and prototyping the best process to take 2D sketches provided by Newell, and ultimately transform them into production-ready Solidworks data to hand off to the manufacturing vendor. This is not an easy task for such organic and complex shapes with extremely subtle details. After several rounds of investigation, Rhinoceros 3D, Blender, and a Solidworks Plug-in, Power Surfacing, became the software workflow of choice to create the dynamic character development needed. Considerable time was given to incorporating the details, ensuring the character maintained its unique personality moving from 2D sketches to 3D models. 


A Process Development Challenge 

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In order to elevate the precision of a simple plastic mold for the DIY kit, achieving a clean parting line was important to minimize the potential of flash (the excessive plastic on a parting line), be easily taken out of the mold, and not distract from the child’s creative accomplishment. 

For this level of detail, a custom material shader was developed to see real-time parting line updates while sculpting in Blender. This live draft analyst eliminated the time-consuming back and forth between engineering analysis and character creation. At the end of the sculpting process, the characters were 3D printed to confirm that it achieved the personality of the character's sketch and at each stage, refinements were made.

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The second design challenge was ensuring a superior project management process in order to meet the retail target. Part of the project’s success was the collaborative effort of the full team, especially the role of the key project managers. Communication was elevated to the highest level, and an elaborate tracking tool was designed to keep track of the character's work-flow throughout the process.  


A Project Management Challenge 

Through our partnership with Newell, a great idea and opportunity was realized into something tangible in short order. This collaborative effort helped Newell push the project forward and across the finish line to get it to market.  


Elmer’s was able to tap into the toy trends to create a story of mystery and take DIY crafting focused on imagination and play with friends and family. Taking this strategy to the next level, an online world called Squistopia was created for kids to explore the full collection and discover the unique personalities of each character, unlock fun games, and discover new lands. IN2 was able to help Elmer’s enable a fun, creative, physical and digital product experience that parents can enjoy with their children. We love that!   


Squishies launched with strong results, according to Newell’s Q4 2022 earnings report, and soon became Elmer’s top-selling activity product.  


Impact: Enabling Creative Play 

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