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Toy Invention Success Stories?

Postby optimistic » March 2nd, 2005, 8:58 am

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The toy industry is unique in that is depends on a huge community of outside inventors and designers for new concepts. Can anyone share any success stories you may have had with selling/licensing a concept to a toy manufacturer? How about bad deals/failures?

How did you negotioate it - for a flat fee, per-unit percentage?

Any info in this area would be apprectaied... ther'e not a lot out there on this topic...

Postby cg » March 2nd, 2005, 12:25 pm

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I did a few projects for a husband-wife inventor duo. They developed about 50 "treatments" a year and pitched them rapid-fire to buyers(?) in their hotel room coinciding with annual toy tradeshows. They frequently went to Industrial Designers for renderings and models for their treatments.

As I recall, they usually ended up licensing 2 or 3 of their concepts a year for royalties.

When I asked them about securing their ideas via patents, they said that there's a "gentlemans agreement" between the inventor community and the manufacturers. They skip the IP and just trust the manufacturers, who are extremely reliant on a small crop of "mom & pop" inventors.

Pretty cool.

Postby ykh » March 2nd, 2005, 12:32 pm


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i heard something similar once. since toys mostly need aesthetic protection and not utility patents, wondered if submitting formal copyright would be best. iirc you can get copyright in bulk so to speak. be cheap that way. not much protection. but something that might work in toy market (especially if new and breaking in; not knowing who to trust). wouldnt change working arrangement. copyright is automatic anyway. but at least there's some decent documentation behind your efforts.

Postby optimistic » March 2nd, 2005, 4:37 pm

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From what I've seen & heard, toy inventors make their major money on patentable products - mechanisms, etc.

When I was in-house at Hasbro we used to apply for design patents if there was nothing else patentable on the product just so we could put "patent pending" on the box to discourage asian knock-offs.
Last edited by optimistic on March 2nd, 2005, 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby yo » March 2nd, 2005, 4:47 pm

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Not so much a super success story, depending on how you measure it I guess.
One of my instructors while I was at RISD was an inventor. He developed this mecchanism on a toy Semi that when you twisted the air spoiler on top of the cab (like a motorcycle throtlte) smoke spewed out of the exaust... it was appropriately called the smokin semi, the really cool part was that he also included a sound chip with a loud voice saying "GET OUTTA MY WAY!" and the sound of tires screaching and glass breaking. The teamsters wrote him some nasty letters that he had framed on the wall. The ID on it (prob, not done by him, but by the manufacturer) was nice too, it looked mean and tough.

I hear the story behind Tickle me Elmo is a good one?

Postby ykh » March 2nd, 2005, 5:07 pm


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"When I was in-house at Hasbro we used to apply for design patents if there was nothing else patentable on the product just so we could put "patent pending" on the box to discourage asian knock-offs."

have thought of that. nice to know it's tried and true! ha

"sound of tires screaching and glass breaking"

modify soundchip for an impact sound and bundle it w "roadkill candy". winner!

Postby guest » March 3rd, 2005, 4:39 am


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what's a teamster?

Postby optimistic » March 3rd, 2005, 8:51 am

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Toy Inventing Book

Postby Peekaboo » March 3rd, 2005, 9:32 am

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I just bought this book: The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook by Richard C. Levy & Ronald O. Weingartner. It was written by people in the industry; a co-developer of "Furby" and the former president of product aquisition at Hasbro Games. It has coutless interviews from people from Mattel, Hasbro & many, many, many, inventors. TONS of success stories and an Option/License agreement template that can save you money on legal fees when presenting your ideas. It also talks about how to get stated inventing and how much to ask for.

It's $20 and it's a keeper!



:)

Postby pezzy » March 3rd, 2005, 5:18 pm

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ykh wrote:modify soundchip for an impact sound and bundle it w "roadkill candy". winner!


Not sure if you wrote this because of this article or not...
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=533074
I was talking with some of the sales guys in the office and they were like "I'd love to have that kind of publicity"

nice. I have a feeling the next design brief that will land on my desk will be to design something politically incorrect.

new ideas

Postby poleman » March 28th, 2005, 5:35 pm


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Just found this site, interesting to read other people's ideas on the industry. Am currently just trying to get my first few ideas off ground and into people's imaginations, luckily have friend who is already in business, will let you know what happens.

Re: new ideas

Postby optimistic » March 28th, 2005, 6:51 pm

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poleman wrote:will let you know what happens.


Excellent... please keep us informed via the discussion board. Glad to have you here!

Early

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2005, 12:08 am


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I did a few projects for a husband-wife inventor duo. They developed about 50 "treatments" a year and pitched them rapid-fire to buyers(?) in their hotel room coinciding with annual toy tradeshows. They frequently went to Industrial Designers for renderings and models for their treatments.


Its just too early in the morning for me to think about something like that let me get some coffee first.

Postby pezzy » November 4th, 2005, 8:55 am

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I have been working with inventors (and do a bit of "invention" myself) and licensing for some years now...

Like anything else, speed to maket is critical. Also, like anything else, once something is in the market place it will be knocked off- no matter how many patents you have.

The thing that helps most with this is connecting a great invention with an appropriate license. We did this line of Fear Factor candy that just matched. Some of the techologies we used for the candy were new (and now knocked off in other products- but not with the "Fear Factor" branding)- so in some sense we were able to keep more leverage and more value to the customer by licensing.

This isn't always the case, as I am sure you have seen the crap in the market which the sole purpose is to make a licensed product. (and I am guilty of this too- sometimes you need to fill a category)

Indirectly, it is possible to stumble upon a great idea and begin to develop it, and then someone in marketing wants to pursue a license. When this happens, I go through my ideas and my inventors ideas to see if there is a match...

I don't know how relevant this is to anyone, but if anyone has any specific questions about the biz, feel free to pm me.

Postby cora77 » February 9th, 2006, 1:19 pm


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As a recent grad, I was pretty excited when a toy company that saw my project at our senior show was interested in my project. They invited me to present my work and 9 moths later I signed a final contract. (actually just a few days ago) I will be getting a small "author's fee" for each project (there are 3) and royalties on the profits for 20 years. I'm not really sure how the numbers compare to the norm, but either way I can't complain - my senior project is going to be on the market! this may not seem like anything to you veteran designers with countless products out there...but if you think back i'm sure you all remember the thrill of your first. All in all, the experience alone has been worth it. I was able to present my work at a professional level (scarry but exciting) and I learned quite a bit about contracts.

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