Mike Meyers: The “Gold Standard” for Inventor Advocacy

November 6, 2018

Mike Meyers’ legendary toy career ignited unexpectedly. From a single spark, it grew, lighting up the world of play with a fiery passion for creativity and innovation, bringing joy to millions of children across generations and the world.

 

Initially aspiring to a career in aeronautical engineering, his interest shifted to industrial design while still in high school.  After college, Meyers started designing point-of-purchase displays, greeting cards and anything else he could get his hands on to pay the bills.

 

Exposure to the toy industry began with a position as designer for a company called Pyro Plastics. The biggest custom molder in the United States at the time, they made model kits, (and anything else that could be molded), for clients all over the country. Amazingly, it was a one-man design department… and he was the man.

 

Experience over time made him realize his employer was making a LOT of money from his efforts. And, while his pay gradually improved, he soon realized his compensation would remain far from equitable for the contributions he was making.

 

And then, the phone rang…. and a company called Lehn & Fink recruited him away.

 

Makers of “Lysol,” and a wide array of toiletries, cosmetics, spices and other household items, it was a totally different experience. At Pyro, he was the target customer. But at Lehn & Fink, he was definitely NOT the target. Lehn & Fink’s customers were mostly female. In order to produce purposeful design, he had to make himself an expert on what women liked and how they behaved. It was a valuable time of growth and the experience positioned him well for when the phone rang again.

 

The Toy Industry Comes Calling

 

An old colleague from Pyro Plastics, who was now at Child Guidance,. called asking Mike to come and be their Director of Design.

 

This was his first time dealing with the outside inventor community.

 

And again, the customers were different. Realizing he had to understand the preferences and behaviors of toddlers and preschoolers, he made himself a student of early childhood, watching children play and interact with objects, their environment, and others.

 

This observational research skill-set would serve him well in what would become a lifelong career guiding toy and game development.

 

Mike Meyers would carry the torch for inventors, finding and fighting for ideas with a sharp wit and even sharper analytical mind, tirelessly advocating for product hits that might otherwise never have seen the light of day.

 

The phone rang again, resulting in Product Research & Development roles at Aurora Products and again at Louis Marx Toys.

 

When Marx was acquired by a London-based company, he stayed through the transition, then left to join Milton Bradley in the mid-1970s.

 

He traveled the world tirelessly for many years, working with inventors, searching for ideas and developing those ideas into products that were feasible, profitable and most of all, FUN.

 

“He respected every idea. He respected every thought and what the inventor was trying to accomplish, even if they didn’t quite hit the mark,” says Bob Fuhrer, President of Nextoy,  “He was the fastest thinking product reviewer and would come up with a nuance that could improve the idea, even if ultimately, the idea wasn’t a fit for his company.”

 

He didn’t let personal preferences interfere with evaluation of a product.  Meyers was masterful at removing himself, viewing concepts with an objective eye, constantly asking, “Who is this for?” And if it was for someone very different from himself, he studied that persona to understand what made them tick. That allowed him to know when a product was going to be a hit or a miss, even if it had no appeal for him personally.

 

After Milton Bradley was acquired by Hasbro, in 1984, Meyers would serve as Sr. VP of Research & Development for Hasbro Games until his retirement in 1992. He continued as a special consultant to the President for 12 more years. In 1995, Meyers, along with three others would found a new game company called “Winning Moves.” He continues to serve as Chairman of the Board today.