DO’S AND DON’TS FOR NEW INVENTORS
By Lisa Wuennemann,
Director of Marketing,
1. Do research the company. What are we currently selling? Where is there a hole in our line that our competitors are filling?
2. Do research who we sell to. Where is there a hole at retail that needs filling? Will the product sell at mass or specialty toy stores? Something that only fits a niche would not be appropriate for most manufacturers.
3. Do show us something new and innovative. Use a new material or use current technology in a new way.
4. Do research the current marketplace to make sure you are not infringing on someone else’s idea. Since most brick and mortar stores do not sell everything, the best place to research is at an online toy store that has a large variety.
5. Do create a prototype. It is helpful to be able to “play” with the idea that you are proposing. A prototype will also make it easier for a company to see what makes your product unique. Sell us on why your product is special.
6. Do show a short video of people playing with the product. This will give us a quick understanding of the toy or game. This does not need to be professionally done, but does need to be short.
7. Do send concise and easy to follow game rules. These do not have to be perfect, but at least written as you know them to be now. If we like the game we can work to improve the game rules together.
1. Don’t say you have played the game with your family and that they love it. Everyone says this, and your family will not be honest with you. Instead, ask a friend to pull together a group of their friends and play the game with them. What did they like? And more importantly, what did they not like? If it is a children’s product, ask children to play it. They will be honest with you.
2. Don’t scribble an idea on paper and send it in. Put some thought into it and play it with people multiple times. Once you feel it is the best you can develop, then send it in for review. You will only get one chance to make a first impression.
3. Don’t worry about the graphics. If you are or know a graphic artist that will assist you in designing the product, great. But if not, we are more concerned on how the toy or game is played than what it looks like at this point.
4. Don’t ask us if you should patent your idea. We can tell you that we do not require a patent, but we cannot give you legal advice on if you should patent your idea.
5. Don’t overwhelm us with excessive phone calls and emails while we are reviewing the idea. We will be happy to confirm receipt, but then give us time to review the submission, and if we like it, present it to the team. Depending on the time of year, this could take 4 – 12 weeks.
Lastly, I recommend reading The Toy & Game Inventor’s Handbook by Levy & Weingartner. When I first started working with toy and game inventors, I read this book and I still reference it today. (November 2014)