Monday, April 18, 2016

Toy & Game Agents

There are literary agents, sports agents, secret agents, and a whole host of government agents. My all time favorite fictional agent from early days of TV was Agent 86. I loved that this whimsical agent could communicate through the bottom of a shoe long before the current ubiquitous iPhone.

When writing The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook, we detailed the important roles of toy and game agents: evaluating marketability of an idea, connecting ideas with potential marketers, and representing all facets of an inventor's interest in negotiating a contract. Inventors and agents become true business partners in the creative process. These are just a few of the popular products in the toy industry licensed by agents.

Here is a link to a longtime, active agent. Marra Design Associates
See The Toy and Game Handbook for a more complete listing of agents.-

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Co-Author Meets Co-Author

Always good to see co-author, Richard C. Levy, anytime, anywhere to rehash issues covered in the third edition of  The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook . I particularly enjoy annual meetings in his south Florida "war room" with its impressive floor to ceiling display of toys and games he has licensed during his long, active career.
If we miss meeting in the Sunshine State, New York Toy Fair offers opportunities to exchange "state of the industry" perspectives in the aisles of Javits. For the past two Toy Fairs, I have enjoyed Richard's Be Terrific appearances in onsite interviews.

Richard's 2016 NYCTF interview:

Richard's 2015 NYCTF interview:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Monkeying Around

Card games have always been a favorite form of play. As a youngster before days of nonstop TV cartoons, electronic enhanced board games, and current finger twitch pad play, I was drawn to endless rounds of Old Maid and Go Fish. Little did I realize then that card games were attractive because they had few complex rules, fit into a pocket, encouraged socialization, and were cheap.

Through the years I made much use of standard playing card decks with all the classic games that could be played applying unique rules to four common graphic suits. My attraction to card play continued as marketers introduced now classie games like UNO and Phase 10. It has extended through Hasbro's brand extensions of famous board games transformed into card play. I knew Scrabble Slam was far different than the iconic tile original, but I enjoyed slamming those cards.
Use of playing cards to create new games is not being overlooked by inventors today. This is especially true in the world of Kickstarter launches. The backer support from online game shoppers for Exploding Kittens and Cyanide and Happiness is legendary in the world of crowd funding. The formula appears to be an appealing pitch of compelling card play wrapped into cool graphs plus a catchy name, and BAM!, sufficient backers are hooked to make the new card game reality.

Among the latest entries vying for Kickstarter support is Bonobo from David Yearick, who has had among toy and game successes, Djubi and Tribond. Interestingly, he has woven the presence of a friendly primate icon into his new card play. Seems if Kittens and Cyanide can be themed onto new card play and Old Maid and Fish were popular in the past, no reason not to use chimpanzees as icons on cards for a whimsical, new, fun game.

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.