Belfast Telegraph

Belfast engineer Ciaran's loving his new life helping out Santa as real-life toymaker

By Emma Deighan

Meet the real-life elf from Northern Ireland who has been signed up by one of the world's biggest companies - and is now bringing his own toy story to Belfast.

Ciaran Larkin has turned a hobby into a lucrative career as he has become the go-to man for Hasbro.

The north Belfast engineer designs, manufactures and engineers toys for the company, which invented Play Doh, Nerf Guns and Transformer toys, and is living the dream as he works on a consultancy basis.

Tonight he will be discussing his exciting career during an event at the Ulster Museum.

Ahead of it, he revealed to the Belfast Telegraph that his very first creation, a superhero-themed toy with Hasbro, will be showcased at a New York toy fair in February and is due for release next autumn.

While he wouldn't give away the specifics, he said: "It's electronic, mechanical and something that performs and creates a special effect.

"Most things I work on are movie-inspired and that's something that Hasbro is very strong on as they partner with the likes of Disney and the Avengers," explained Ciaran.

The Queen's University electrical engineering graduate started creating toys and special effects for local film sets, music videos and weddings on a commission-only basis under the business name I Make Anything in 2011.

It was 2015 when the 34-year-old decided to take his work to the Inventor's Workshop in England, sponsored by Hasbro, after YouTube videos of his creations received much support and praise.

"I was having so much fun making those products that I decided I was going to pursue my dream job," he said.

And so, at the Dragons' Den-style event, Ciaran made a successful pitch that introduced him to the company. "It just shows you how one thing can lead to another. Hasbro goes looking for products to sign and they told me that event was the first time they found a person."

Splitting his time between Hasbro's HQ in New York and Rhode Island, and his own firm, Made Real Design, in Belfast, Ciaran provides the mechanical know-how to help realise some of the biggest toys on the market. "You could say I'm a real life elf, working with Santa," he said.

"It is an absolute dream come true.

"I used to do this just for fun in my own workshop in my bedroom and things have kicked off so quickly and it's only at Christmas time that it really sinks in what I'm doing."

And this Monday, December 18, the inventor will be performing the pitch that initiated that partnership with Hasbro at a lecture at the Ulster Museum at 6.30pm.

At the event he will also discuss his journey and provide guests with behind-the-scenes videos of some of his creations.

Open to all ages, Ciaran hopes to inspire children and students to follow their dream careers.

"It will be great to show people where a role in engineering can take you, especially younger people in the audience," he said.

"I'll start with a brief overview of how I began and then jump right into the exciting stuff of Hasbro and videos.

"This is a time when I can really big up the Santa side of things too so I'm hoping there will be families there to entertain."

Belfast Telegraph

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