Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

An important part of a company's new toy and game acquisitions is trolling the professional inventing community in search of the proverbial "needle in a haystack". You know, the kind of "needle" that has a potentially TV promotable feature that will sell 500K pieces annually for an indeterminable number of years.

Chicago has long been a popular destination for such searches. It is something of an epicenter for toy invention. Many former in-house creatives went independent in the Windy City after Marvin Glass and Associates disbanded in late 1988. One such inventing house borne out of "broken Glass" was Lund and Company, headed by Bruce Lund.

My visits with Bruce were always filled with his unique, whimsical game concepts. Mixed with the work of playing his new product concepts was friendly social chatter. During a chat about sports, I learned Bruce was a Chicago baseball fan. How could I resist not telling him my true baseball story? Through pure fluke, on a summer day in 1960, wearing Cub uniform No.18, I actually pitched my 58 mph fastball in batting practice to the Cubbie pitchers from the mound at Wrigley Field !

Bruce processed this piece of personal trivia in a very creative way. Toward the end of my next visit, he announced that we would continue the meeting on a nearby Chicago Park District baseball diamond. Unbelievably, he had rented all the necessary baseball gear and enlisted his design team to be batters while he positioned himself as catcher. Apparently, he wanted to see if an aged arm weary acquisitions rep could throw anywhere near home plate 60 feet away. Thankfully, the toy gods let all the overage sandlot players escape without injury during our fun time.

Like me, Bruce never became an overpaid big league star in what the sports world insists calling baseball, "the national past time." Click on the Lund and Company link to see a few of the home runs they've hit in the toy world since our silly day on a Chicago baseball diamond. You can see their true talents have produced a long list of awards. Forget baseball; the Lund team is clearly in the major leagues of creating playthings to the delight of millions of kids.

Awards: 2007 TOTY Winner Toy of the Year "TMX Elmo", 2007 TOTY Winner Preschool Toy of the Year "TMX Elmo", 2007 TOTY Nominee "Hydrogen Fuel Rocket", 2008 TOTY Nominee "TMX Friends", 2009 TOTY Nominee "Discovery Scanopedia" and more . . .

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