Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Mindfeed: Mindware is Full of Brainy Guys

MindWare Brainy Guy Logo Sculpture at ASTRA show in Nashville TN June 2013

Ever wonder what kind of people are making your children's toys?  Do they have the ultimate dream job?  Are they like Tom Hanks in the movie Big and say things like, "A building that turns into a robot? Well, what's fun about that?" Meet Mike Majerus, creator of the Brainy Guy sculpture (see above) and chief numbers geek at one of my favorite toy companies, MindWare.

It all started with a smile.  This must be Mike's basement and that looks like a ping pong table.  Must be a fun basement.

Take a look at that box back there. I see some blue, green, and red things that look like unused Q-BA Maze cubes!  Hey Mike, can I have those since obviously you're not using those colors?  I will build a Christmas tree with blue and red ornaments and donate it to a  children's museum.

The Skinny on Brainy Guy:

How long did it take? 
Approximately 30-40 hours.  He built it at night by himself whenever he had the time.

How many cubes? 
1,586 cubes (460 colored and 1126 clear)

5’2” by 5’2”

Must. Finish. Building. Brain.
Structural Integrity Tester, Annabelle, 11, stands next to her dad's finished creation.  Annabelle, I love your boots but I love your smile even more!

What is the name of the sculpture?

Mike told me, "I hadn’t thought about that," and then he actually said that this question made him feel like a real artist. Uh Mike, newsflash, it was indeed real art that you made.  Mike then shared that he would say it was called Brainy Guy.  "Because that is what we call the little image on the front of our Mindware logo," he told me.  I like that. It's simple.

How long does it take for a marble to make its way down?

The fastest I’ve seen is about 20-25 seconds, but it can take over a minute.

How did Brainy Guy travel from Minnesota (Mindware's HQ) to Tennessee (ASTRA show)? 

"He actually travels quite well. I built him to split into two sections, then built a custom box for shipping him. I was pleased to see him completely intact when we got to the show," Mike told me.

What did he use to keep the cubes together?

Mike said that he used two tubes of E6000 glue. Ugh, that must of been really stinky however I think that is probably the best for this. 

What is your hobby? Mike: I snowsculpt.   Seriously? Then you probably do surgery on the weekends too, huh?
(L-R) Mike Majerus, Adam Turner, and David Ryding

Okay, let's get to the good stuff:

How did this come to be?

"It was something I had been thinking about for around a year," he told me. "In 2012 we did a huge Q-Ba-Maze display at NY Toy Fair that was a double helix of tropical fish."   He had always liked the idea of creating an image out of the cubes.  He thought making a MindWare logo out of the cubes would represent the new relationship between Q-BA Maze and MindWare (Q-BA Maze, the original was not from Mindware- that's the set I had a long long time ago) Mike pitched the idea and it was decided that if he got it done, it would be fun to show at ASTRA but also at Mindware's office lobby.  (Gosh, I wish I could hang out at that lobby one afternoon)  

The Q-BA Maze Sculpture at Mindware's booth at Toy Fair 2012. Mike said it was a double-helix of the fish design on the 2.0 box    I think the fishie is really cute.

What kind of toy company has their chief financial guy making trade show and lobby display sculptures?  It's delightfully wacky!

"MindWare is a creative company," said Mike, noting that the company has some talented artists and designers.  He finds their creativity and talent inspiring. 

We can do anything that we wanna do. - Blue's Clues

When Mike is not crunching numbers or making lobby displays, you can find him carving shapes out of giant blocks of snow with the Snow Cowboys, a snow-sculpting team led Adam Turner, who also happens to be the Art Director at MindWare, Adam Turner.  Seriously? Y'all don't get enough creativity out of your system by making multiple MENSA- winning games for families?  

But it is just so cold.....  you have to be in good shape for this.  

"MindWare’s focus is on innovation and new product development," Mike told me. "I am also pretty right brain/left brain, as you can see, so I get excited about stuff that your typical CFO probably would not."  Well Mike, I don't know about Minnesotans, but here in NYC, if you said you snow sculpt for fun, nobody would think you are a typical anything.  We'd all think that was pretty extraordinary.

Mike also told me that Adam's design won the state competition this past January and they are going to compete on the national level next year.  At this point, I am thinking about what I have done that is even a fraction of the amount of awesomeness that I'm hearing.  Life. It's. Just. Not. Fair. 

Though I'm thoroughly envious, I can't help but spread the awesomeness around.  I hope you get to show your children this post. Show them that Brainy Guy wasn't made in a studio, nor was it made by a professional artist.  It was made in a basement by a dad who crunches numbers for a living.  Still, I'm sure you'll agree, there is nothing amateur about Brainy Guy.  Maybe someday, we'll get a chance to visit MindWare's lobby and drop a whole bucket of balls in his brain! I think my kids would lose their minds! I think I would too!

This is Mike Majerus who works for a toy company.  He builds Q-BA Maze sculptures and snow sculpts on the side. Mike says, "I am just a grunt and Adam is the real talent on the team." 

TA-DA!!! Wins first place! 

Thanks to Mike Majerus, the Snow Cowboys, and MindWare for the delightful photos! And of course, a big shout-out to the creator of Q-BA Maze, Andrew Comfort.  This pixel-effect is making me think of Minecraft, which is also known in my house and The Time Vacuum.  Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!

Stay tuned for my review on Q-BA Maze 2.0 Stunts Set!  To see my review on Q-BA Maze 2.0 Big Box, click HERE

Want to snag your own Big Box?  Try my Amazon link and support Toys are Tools!  

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