Toyland sheds light into the high stakes world of the 22 billion dollar toy industry, where fun and fortune await those who know how to get inside the mind of a child! Director Ken Sons introduces the inventors behind the biggest toys and games in history while following the ups and downs of game designer, Tim Walsh. From prototype to pitch, follow Walsh along his winding road to New York City’s Toy Fair– will his toy light up the imagination of kids everywhere… or never see the light of day? Toyland makes its World Premier at the Sarasota Film Festival, April 11, 2010.
This clip showcases some of the most beloved, best-known toys that you’re sure to recognize from your own childhood– I can clearly remember my “Slinky graveyard,” an entire box FULL of tangled metal springs I couldn’t bring myself to part with!
ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie in his Super Solver cape!
This is as good a time as any to introduce ThinkFun CEO and co-founder, Bill Ritchie!
Over the last few weeks, Bill has been jetting all over the country, stopping in Berkeley, CA to visit the folks at the Bunge Lab for Cognitive Control and Development who are gearing up for a new study measuring the impact of our Rush Hour Brain Lab program on reasoning skills!
Bill made his way through Seattle to brainstorm with a designer and meet with the programmer who generated over 20,000 new Rush Hour challenges! Next, he and his wife, ThinkFun co-founder Andrea Barthello, went to LA for the TED Conference… Here he purchased a Flip video camera, and the rest is history! Bill and his new gadget made the rounds at TED, then came to NY Toy Fair to document the events and people with whom he met!
This one minute video of Bill’s whirlwind tour gives a great sense of the incredible people with whom he and ThinkFun have connected. Enjoy!
Toy Fair was particularly fun as I had a chance to step out of my education/product development bubble and see the real impact of the games I help create through the eyes of the people who buy and sell them!
As the bulk of my communication is with educators, the only regular interactions I have with buyers come during my own “reconnaissance missions.” As my very patient husband will attest, regardless of where we are or what we’re late for, it’s impossible for me to walk by a toy store without stopping to ask how ThinkFun is selling, jot down feedback, requests, critiques, etc., share new developments– and more often than not end up playing a few challenges!
For me, Toy Fair was a rare opportunity to connect with hundreds of our retailers from all over the world (without a tired, hungry husband in tow)! I’d expected to meet almost exclusively with buyers purely interested in stocking their shops with ThinkFun product, and I was pleasantly surprised to be completely wrong! I met so many people who know our products inside and out and have identified all sorts of new uses and populations to target with them!
A sampling of the various buyers and fans who visited our booth these last 4 days…
A non-profit that donates games to sick children at NY hospitals. I learned that the 40 challenges in games like Rush Hour and Hoppers make them well suited for these kids who often tire quickly or are interrupted frequently. This progression allows kids to complete as few or as many challenges as they can handle at a time and feel a sense of accomplishment, tackling the next when they’re ready.
A reporter who downloaded our new Rush Hour Android app in the booth was so engrossed he took a seat and played challenges on his phone until forced to leave for his next appointment!
A Temple bookstore that can’t keep bilingual Hebrew Zingo on the shelf!
A speech and language pathologist who reviews games for a blog! She lit up on the improvements to our What’s GNU? game and gave me new insight on new ways to use this in a theraputic setting!
A consultant who uses our games as adult team building exercises
A hobby shop in Pennsylvania that hosts the Pinewood Derby event each year for local boy scout troops was thrilled to see Knot So Fast! He felt this competitive knot tying game would be a perfect challenge for these scouts!
The Director of a summer camp program looking for new enrichment activities and interested in using ThinkFun games as part of a game invention unit.
The developer of a new web site interested in linking ThinkFun games to specific types of learners and their strengths based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.
A buyer looking for products suited for children with autism. She really lit up on our new Zingo To Go, explaining that the push-to-flip action on the playing boards is a manageable, non-overwhelming task that provides appropriate tactile and visual stimulation.
A retailer searching for games for a nursing home community that would to keep older adults’ minds sharp with fun, appropriate challenges. He felt the leveled challenges and chunky pieces in many of our spatial games like Brick by Brick made these a good fit.
Returning from Toy Fair I’m even more energized to continue doing everything I can to make our games the kinds of products that make our customers and buyers stretch their own thinking and see the potential that these games have for use in a huge range of settings!
Before closing down the booth, a few of my ThinkFun buddies and I couldn’t resist seeing how we measure up on the ThinkFun Games to Grow with display… I came up a bit short
I just made it past the line!
ThinkFun Designer Josh is all grown up!
Here's Edoardo from Marketing! Was he stooping to make me feel better?!
Just wrapped up day 3 of Toy Fair here in New York and wanted to share some quick high points. While ThinkFun has been exhibiting at this show for the past 24 years(!), this was my very first experience, and I’ve been completely star-struck to put it mildly… Wow!
Welcome to Toy Fair!
A few highlights:
We unveiled our 2010 products! The incredible reception these games have gotten is amazingly rewarding… buyers are as excited about them as we are! Lots more to share about these in the near future, so stay tuned!
ThinkFun buyers, distributors, and fans from all over the world have come to visit us in the booth… it’s so neat to see how well known and recognized our games are worldwide!
A fantastic group of ThinkFun supporters from Colvin Run Elementary, including Barbara Ross (the brilliant teacher who created Strategy Labs!) came up from VA for the day to see the booth and explore the exhibit halls!
Donny Osmond and his son stopped by the booth to play a game of Rush Hour!
A puzzle store owner whose sister solved the 36 Cube (aka the “World’s Most Challenging Puzzle”) 2 weeks after it came out and has been holding it over her head ever since! She came to ask for a hint to the solution (nice try—but my lips are sealed!)
I solved an Expert level Solitaire Chess challenge! This giant version of our newest single player strategy game has been a huge hit in the booth (and a great way to keep ThinkFun staff entertained when we have down-time!)
I've shrunk! Our enormous Solitaire Chess display was a hit at Toy Fair!
Loads more highlights to share, but wanted to give you a taste of the fun I’ve had. Looking forward to a great final day!