Friday, May 29, 2015

Words from the Wise

The original edition of The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook, included "profiles" of some eighty creatives, who could enter "occupation-professional toy inventor" on any application. These were high achievers in the speculative, high-risk world of licensing ideas to industry marketers. Time has taken some of these incredible talents from the industry like Ralph Baer, acknowledged "father of the video game business", and Fred Kroll, who pushed roller carts filled with new toy and game "opportunities" around the old 200 5th Ave. NYC Toy Center for sixty-six years! (Fortunately for Fred and Hasbro, Hungry, Hungry Hippos dropped off one of those carts!)

In our third edition ebook, some profiles have been altered but much of the advice and perspectives from eighty pros continue to ring true. For any inventor, who hopes to create new playthings,  thoughts from these old pros on what makes great toys and games and what sparks their original ideas are invaluable. They live the life captured in quotes of Thomas Edison, "Have a great idea, have lots of them" and "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Inventors profiled in the Handbook averaged thirty ideas annually. (That's a lot of ideas and a lot of perspiration!)

Recently, several pros offered prospectives on challenges facing toy inventors today. Mary (Game Bird) Ellroy and Hank Atkins feel that "larger companies seem focused on brands rather than unrelated concepts no matter how good they are". Tim Moodie acknowledges, "the loss of larger game companies reduces likely licensees for his ideas." He shares Mary Ellroy's view, "that opportunities are emerging with new, interesting marketers". All three agree, "that new toy and game ideas need to compete with gadget play", and they favor "adding electronics or some novel technology if possible."

There is timeless cautionary advice as well. Seeing the advantage of now popular crowd-funding, Ken Evoy, Canadian licensor of many playthings, counsels,"Never mortgage the house. It is much safer to find venture capital. The worst thing is to spend your money on 10,000 pieces, sell a few thousand, and have the rest end up in your garage." Hank Atkins opines that a single license will not generate sustainable royalty income, saying, "Don't give up your day job." And co-author Richard C. Levy, with over 125 original concepts licensed and approaching 40 years in the business of fun and games advises, "Never give up, never grow up." To meet the challenges of inventing today, it makes sense for creatives to mix into their thinking several dashes of sound advice from the wise--and successful--pros.

1 comment:

  1. Brian Turtle, Endless GamesJune 3, 2015 at 1:23 PM

    I disagree that there is overwhelming need to include a gadget or electronic device in new games. It is vital to find time to frequently disconnect our electronic leashes and play a game in the presence of human interaction. Board games are platforms that entice laughter, playful debate, and a healthy spirit of competition. Many board games allow us to learn more about our friends, our families, and ourselves...without batteries!