Like so many other boys born before video games became ubiquitous, David A. Vonner II grew up a huge fan of Marvel Comics. In Vonner’s case, however, it was a love affair he never grew out of.
By the time he decided to attend the Art Institute of Philadelphia, he already knew where he wanted to work: Marvel Comics, of course!
His first job after graduation was at Spencer Gifts Inc. As a product-development designer, he worked on Lava Lamps, Halloween masks, T-shirts, electronic items and licensed products for entertainers.
After five years there, he took a job with another company developing infant and pre-school toys. It was that job that in 2001 led him to his dream gig at Marvel Enterprises Inc., working in their toy division.
His first assignment was for the first “Spider-Man” movie.
“Pretty cool first day!” he recalled in his 40 Under Forty application.
He later worked on a host of other movies, as well as toys based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and classic Marvel characters. One of the latter, War Machine, has Vonner’s face sculpted on the figure.
Vonner eventually started his own design firm. In 2006, he joined Hasbro Inc., after the company formed a partnership with Marvel. Hasbro was planning to design and develop all of Marvel’s toys, making Vonner’s experience a perfect match for the job.
Since joining Hasbro, he has designed numerous movie products and action figures.
Now 38, Hasbro’s senior product designer has managed to stay fresh in an industry that caters to children by “[continually seeking] out new ways to play by allowing the kid at heart to always have a voice, imagination and a cool toy to play with,” he wrote. •