Spin Master's Ben Dermer Hunts Globe for the Next Big Toy and Game Ideas
Did you ever wonder how big toy companies find the next big toy or game? At Spin Master Ltd, their quest for the next blockbuster is led by Ben Dermer.
Dermer and Spin Master strive to create a culture around their activities in the toy industry that is edgy and hip. In a 2010 TEDxYouth talk he gave in Toronto, Dermer compares finding the next “must have” toy to the entertainment industry’s search for the next big pop star or the next big movie.
(Ben's TEDxYouth Talk)
Joining the company in 2000, right after college, Dermer says his career path was somewhat accidental. He’d just completed a bachelor’s degree majoring in Film and had anticipated a career in screenwriting. A friend gave him a lead on a short term gig as a product demonstrator for Spin Master. That foot in the door more than a decade ago, began an envied career where he quickly progressed to Vice President of Inventor Relations. Today, Dermer travels the globe and has reviewed over 25,000 toy and game ideas for the company.
His biggest coup for Spin Master – the toy he’s most proud of - is the Bakugan line of action toys that debuted in 2006. He describes it as a mashup of superheroes and marbles.
When he’s not hunting for toy and game ideas, Dermer puts his creative passion for entertainment and pop culture to work through his band, BBOSS. His musical efforts are infused with his toy passion as well. Animated, robotic superhero characters are featured prominently on the band’s website. On their 13 song album, scheduled to be released at the end of August, the band wrote all the songs and played every instrument. The BBOSS website describes their sound as “a rap-injected, groove-infected electro-buzzed pop band.” One of the singles, “Remembered,” is a thought-provoking ballad featured in the 2011 movie, Set Up, starring Bruce Willis and Curtis Jackson (50 Cent). Dermer’s talent is evident in his mastery of a range of instruments that include banjo, bass, keys and violin.
In his TEDxYouth talk about toy invention, Dermer says, “At the core of it, what we’re all doing, is we’re trying to connect with the world in a meaningful way.” It’s safe to say that would apply to his philosophy not only toward toys and games but music as well.
In November, Dermer’s music will be featured at the 2012 Toy and Game Inventor Awards (TAGIEs). Much like the Oscars celebrate the film industry, the Pulitzers celebrate journalism and the arts, and the Grammys recognize the music industry, the TAGIEs celebrate and recognize toy and game inventors from across the country, whose playful creativity and inventiveness resulted in some of the most fun and entertaining play products on the market today.
Michelle Spelman is Editor and Inventor Relations Liaison for Chicago Toy & Game Group. She is a game inventor, and co-founder of Flying Pig Games LLC, creators of award-winning Jukem Football card game. She is also founder of Cincinnati Game & Toy Industry Professionals group, and is the Cincinnati Children’s Toy Examiner. An independent marketing consultant providing contract services, executive coaching and strategic direction, she’s in her sweet spot when she is working with companies focused on women and family-oriented products and services.