Monday, October 26, 2015

Inventing an aMAZEing Game

As co-author of two toy and game invention books, it's rewarding to hear from an inventor who has actually read them and implemented some of our suggestions on how-to license new playthings. So when Andy Geremia made an e-mail connection, I was all ears....excuse me, rather all eyes.

Geremia, is actually a high-tech "locksmith", albeit using keyless locks. His day is a world filled with security entry devices and video surveillance systems. At night behind his own secured doors, Geremia has used his playful and inventive spirit to create several self-marketed outdoor games and now the unique new board game, Maze Racers, a game that had a boost by winning a crowd-funding contest sponsored by Big Leap.

Motivated by the Big Leap win and filled with advice from self-help invention books, including The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook, Geremia set out to find a marketer for his maze game. He put into practice all he read in books.

Armed with the press release about the contest and filled with commitment and perseverance to commercialize the concept, he began contacting game companies. Within a month, Geremia had three prototypes out and two months later, he had a signed agreement with Fox Mind to unveil Maze Racers at NYC Toy Fair 2015

According to David Capon, president of Fox Mind, Maze Racers fits the company's narrative perfectly. "It is exciting and intuitive, simple to explain, stimulates players' creativity and dexterity, and delivers fun". What Capon saw has been validated by a steady early trade sales pace and recent recognition as a Top 10 Game for 2015 by Dr. Toy. Top Games 2015. 

Since pitching the game to the trade at Toy Fair 2015 in the Fox Mind booth, Geremia has embarked on a one man PR crusade to build word-of-mouth support for his game. Says Geremia, "I will attend any game convention within two hours of my CT home to promote Maze Racers and have exhibited at the Maker Faire in RI and the Boston Festival of Games." 

Actually, Geremia exceeded that travel radius to make an appearance at Gen Con 2015 where "four stations of Maze Racers were played steadily by adults and kids seven hours each day of the show". In addition, Fox Mind has committed to exhibit at Chitag, the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, on November 21st and 22nd. Getting out and demonstrating Maze Racers is another step through the marketing maze to make Maze Racers popular with today's game players.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mr. Monopoly Mascot

Mr. Monopoly, aka Rich Uncle Pennybags, is one of the most endearing and enduring icons in the toy and game business. His formal top hat, tux, and perfectly coiffed mustache have been around for decades as the brand representative for Monopoly. He was created in one dimensional form to represent the wealthy money man who would dole out big bucks and rewards to eager board game players.

Today, the world is full of walking, talking, animated bigger-than-life brand icons often called mascots. They seem to be everywhere from professional sports arenas to institutions of higher learning to mass media screens. You see them interacting with fans, leading cheers from the sidelines, or on TV entertaining audiences with the beloved Big Bird, Barney, and others. No trip to Disney Land or Disney World would be complete without skipping along with Walt's costumed creations that have been instrumental in selling tons of toys and games.

Being one of these costumed icons is not for the faint of heart. Behind--or rather inside--Big Bird was Carroll Spinney who spent over four decades in anonymity making the giant Sesame Street character work. How Big Bird Costume Works For anyone thinking that there is a future animating an iconic figure, best they find out details of the difficult life inside an oversized mascot's costume,

Chuck Long, had a 38year career as game salesman for Milton Bradley and eventually Hasbro Games after MB merged with Parker Bros. He had a much simpler and direct route to his limited engagements as the Hasbro iconic figure, Mr. Monopoly. The costume required little other than top hat and tux. Whitening hair and a mustache transformed him into the personna that by 1995 got him gigs at retail customer sales meetings, store openings, and even corporate and international Hasbro sales meetings. Chuck Long became an expert on Monopoly history and fun facts even autographing his altered identity onto Monopoly games bought by customers.

Chuck Long remembers one memorable appearance as Mr. Monopoly about three years ago, "It was at a Power of Youth charity event held at Paramount movie studios in Hollywood. There was some buzz about Mr. Monopoly being there. But the real attention was given to a celebrity that may not have even been an avid Monopoly player. What I am sure of is that the celebrity of Monopoly, the game, has been around in the business longer than Bieber's popularity in pop culture. He'll have to perform many more years to catch-up to Monopoly." Words spoken like a true game salesman who happens to be a Mr. Monopoly look-alike!