Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toy Fair 2013: The Place to Meet Amazing Inventors and Designers

How cute is Megs?  On the left is Brickbot.  My two favorite characters in Megan Rothrock's Lego Adventure Book

Do children ever say, "I want to be a toy designer when I grow up"?  Probably not.  But what an interesting career path this is.  Wouldn't you agree?  So this year, I was fortunate enough meet so many toy and game creators at the Toy Fair and whenever I could, I asked them how they came to do this job now and the answers were all so varied and yet the same.

What did Megan Rothrock do before creating awesome Lego models and writing her incredible book?  She was in animation. I can see that influence in the Lego Adventure Book.  Awesome! It makes the book less intimidating... projects look exciting and possible.

No one that I met really started their career making toys.  If they did, they probably didn't study toy design in college.  To be sure, there were even folks who were making toys and games in a second-job capacity!  Wow.  What seems quite apparent is that they are doing this because they love it.

Tom Quinn works on Hollywood films by day.  By night, he is making sure his game, The Game of Things is being enjoyed by as many people as possible. I can't wait to play it!

Wilfred Braun invented the amazing Quadrilla.  He used to build television and radio stations but he much rather make toys.

Jon Capriola, inventor of Laser Pegs did not start out as a toymaker.  He's been an entrepeneur since the age of 19 when he opened his first restaurant!  Now, he spends his time helping other inventors bring their products to market and is the author of Making Ideas A Reality

 Andrew Comfort was an architect before becoming the inventor of the Q BA Maze.  He has a variety of amazing plans on his website  Mindware, a fave company is now selling the 2.0 version as well as the new Stunts version!  But we knew Q BA Maze way back when when it's a wee 1.0er.  This marble run is enchanting.

Jon Elmaleh is doing the superman pose on the Kore stool.  It is so amazing how you can balance yourself like this You can sit on this while working and this can alleviate your or your child's active movement tendencies. You can work on core trunk muscles too! In front on the right is the new Kids Kore stool in blue.  The bottom has a convex shape and so it is "active sitting."  COOL!

Marvin Berglas of Marvin's Magic comes from a family of magicians.  He wants kids to perform their own tricks and believes his products are "magic made simple."  I have been less than impressed with other magic kits but since Reeves (distributors of Red Toolbox and Geomag) is bringing this to America, my hopes are high!  Love magic for kids.  It's super-social skills-education!

Hank Atkins invented the new game Freeze Up and the very cool Nowhere to Go (game on right) for Educational Insights.  Freeze Up looks like a lot of fun.  Think on your feet and speed up that language processing!

Julien Sharp used to be a cruise ship recreation director for many years but now she is bringing her style of fun and games on land and into living rooms everywhere.  Great design is a constant feature in all of the games at Funnybone Toys and I'm so looking forward to Disruptus which has introduced the very cool and forward-thinking concept of disruptive thinking to me.

Steve Spangler is instrumental in the design of many Be Amazing! products. I love this Epic Bubbles kit! ( Available later this year.) Look, they are using Zometools!
I have a feeling that Crazy Aaron isn't crazy but rather he is quite brilliant.  After finishing college and joining the work world, he found office life too... what's the word I'm looking for... "motionless"?   He wanted to keep moving and found putty to be the answer.  He made it better and continues to amaze both grown-ups and kids with awesome colors.  I love the heat-sensitive putty!

Amy Fazackerley has three boys and a lot of Legos.  Tired of the clean up process after awesome building sessions, she and her husband created the Lay-n-Go.  Play on top of the mat, cinch it up and you're off.  The even have a bag for grown-up stuff like make up. 

Rafael Atijas was just working on a project for his Masters program at NYU.  His project turned out to be a seriously beautiful three-string guitar that kids build on their own. Thanks Jackie for telling me about the Loog Guitar!

Here are some of the products discussed in this article.  If you are going to make a purchase, use my link to support Toys are Tools!

Please note: These are not reviews.  However, Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any manufacturer for the publication of this article.   If you would like to see one of these items reviewed, leave a comment or send me an email to toysaretools at gmail dot com.

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