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James Brosnan - A Brain Tumor and HEXBUG Nanos Changed my Life

What do you do in the industry?

I am currently an intern at Big Monster Toys and am going into my senior year of Industrial Design at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I was part of the Design Student track at the CHITAG Inventor Conference and met Gary Swisher, EVP Design for Spin Master, who introduced me to Jon Vanderbeek, a professional inventor. I did a project for Jon and then he introduced me to the creatives at Big Monster Toy, who hired me for this amazing opportunity.

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor. A couple days before the operation my mom and I walked around town pretending a doctor wasn't about to drill holes in my head and skill crane a marble sized tumor out of my nose. We walked into this little toyshop and I was trying to be brave, my family was scared. I knew I had to be strong for them, but I was in a panic. Then for a moment nothing was wrong and I was happy, I came across a table of HEXBUG nanos. Suddenly nothing in the world mattered and I became completely enamored, I had an emotional reaction to the product and kept the green and black one with me through recovery. Toys have an ability to spark a positive emotional response and bring joy to people's lives and I had experienced It, I’ve wanted to be part of creating It.

What and/or who inspires you?

My beautiful girlfriend and family, they all work so hard and support my sometimes wild endeavors.

How do you recharge or take a break?

I like going largemouth bass fishing with my younger brother Mike, even though we don't catch a whole lot.

What was your favorite toy or game as a child?


What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

I would have to say either SolidWorks or SketchBook Pro, they are both programs that allow me to create, share, and explain my ideas.

How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?

I sit down with a lot of white paper and start making lists and doing quick rough sketches until something lands, this often also involves playing with, breaking, and putting things back together.

Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?

No, well kind of… I made a ceramic udu drum that I pull out every once and awhile to annoy everyone.

Summer of Winter?

Summer hands down, I grew up in warm climate and miss it when it’s negative 50 out.

Do you have any special talents?

I throw pottery, primarily dishware and vases but on occasion I'll make a teapot. Before design, I did a lot of fine art sculpture and sold pieces in my community. It was one of the stepping stones that got me into college and allowed me to move towards my goals.

What are your hobbies?

I really like rollerblading and still go to the skate park from time to time.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I never knew until I found the path I am on now. I always made games and toys for brothers when we were growing up. The games were never elaborate and were always made out of stuff I found in the trash but it felt like second nature to me. When I found I could do this for living I was locked in.

What’s next?

I have one more year at school and then I out into the real world to become a professional toy designer!

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