A Great Night for Toy and Game Inventors

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I am on my way back from a spectacular four days in Chicago in which I participated in Mary Couzin's ChiTag, TAGIE Awards and the Toy and Game Industry Expo.  It was quite an experience and I am currrently putting together my thoughts which I will publish tomorrow.  In the mean time, I thought you might enjoy this appreciation of toy and game inventors that I wrote for the Toy & Game Inventors Awards Dinner brochure as its introduction. 

When you have a moment; try asking this question:  “What was your favorite toy or game when you were a kid?”  I promise you, no matter how serious the individual; no matter how important (or self-important) they are, they will always give you the same reaction.  They will look surprised, they will pause and then slowly their face will soften, the color in their face will rise and…they…will…smile!

After you have them smiling, follow up with this question:    “What toy or game did you have as a child that had an influence on your life?”  They will stop smiling, they will think (sometimes for a while) and they will (about 50% of the time) come up with a toy or game that they felt either shaped their life or was a harbinger of who they were to become.

Reuben Klamer, the creator of the Game of Life and the winner of last year’s lifetime achievement award, told me about the doctor who saved his life (something for which we are all grateful…but probably not as much as Reuben).  Later when things had calmed down, the doctor said to Reuben:  “You know I became a doctor because of the Game of Life.”  Reuben responded with a quizzical:  “Why is that?”  The doctor answered that when he was a kid and he played The Game of Life, he always won when he was the doctor.

Interestingly, I was at my doctor’s office shortly after that and was being questioned by a female intern there.  We had a quiet moment so I asked her my two toy questions and she told me that when she was a little girl, age 5, she didn’t have a favorite doll.  She had a microscope…and she carried it everywhere she went. 

So, how many more doctors, architects, construction workers, artists, musicians and scientists chose their path in life because of the enthusiasm sparked in them when they were children by the toys or games with which they played.

You know, we really need to find that out.  Why, because toy inventors probably have a greater impact on society and the future than any other cultural force? 

How many Harry Potter Books has J.K. Rowling sold to date:  400,000,000!  How many toys invented by Jeffrey Breslow, who received the first TAGI Lifetime Achievement Award, have been sold to date:  over 1 billion!!

I would estimate that Jeffrey Breslow and the company he co-founded, B.M.T., whose toys have been estimated to be in 85% of American homes, has had a greater impact on the future of our country than virtually any person.  The fact that his production has been prolific and that the users of his creations play with them when they are still forming means that the adults who lead us today were shaped in part by Jeffrey, Reuben and this year’s honoree, Eddie Goldfarb.

I don’t really know how many people became dentists because of Eddie’s Yakkity Yak Teeth; got a bigger boat because of Shark Attack or became a farmer because of Milky the Cow.  I do know this, a lot of children had fun; a lot of adults have great memories of their childhoods and a lot less criminals walk the streets. 

Toy inventors teach children to enjoy life in the present and have a dream for the future.  Let’s give them all the recognition they deserve and the thanks of a nation and the world.

 

 

4 thoughts

  1. Hi Richard thanks so much for this good report. Glad you were able to participate. I helped Mary promoting the First Chitag at Navy Pier, invited many to attend, and did TV appearances to support her efforts. Glad to see the program has continued and grown so well. Glad also that the nostalgia experience shared in my book (Smart Play Smart Toys) and with the group you convened on Girls Toys recently in NYC has left a lasting impression and had a positive affect on you. As you share your thoughts about the nostalgia value of toys and what we played with as children I am reminded of the memory of that red crayon you mentioned you played with, and how vivid can be the recall of play and toys years later. Yes! Play is powerful and that is true for everyone. Have a playful holiday season. As always glad to see your postings and the comments.

  2. Very well said. It was a great night and a great 4 days spent meeting and talking and listening to so many amazingly talented people.
    Thank you Mary Couzin for your incredible vision and the persistence to pull it off.

  3. the moon walker for GI Joe was my favorite toy as a kid. And I think it was also the toy that influenced my creative side into designing other moon landers and walkers, space crafts, battle ships, moon bases. Through that I drafted what the floors would look like, where the engine rooms would be, any engineering or science I could add was added. As a graphic designer today I’m always looking for relevance in the design of what I do. All from a GI Joe moon walker. Who’d a thought.

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