THE TOY AND GAME INVENTOR'S HANDBOOK
by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner
(Alpha Books, 560 pages, $19.95)
The world of toys and games is an odd one. It's a milieu where hard headed business decisions combine with almost whimsical creativity. In The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner, those of us interested in a "behind the scenes" look at this business - and those of us with aspirations towards becoming successful in this field - can learn a lot.
The book is written from a "creative" perspective. The authors argue persuasively that the key to the toy and game business are the "inventors", those creative individuals that come up with the ideas behind the toys and games that eventually populate the toy store shelves. What sets this book apart from similar offerings, however, is how it takes the reader through the process of creation: from idea to market and every step in between. Of most interest to would-be millionaire inventors are the sections on how to sell your ideas, protect your ideas, the financial sides of a business deal (including sample contracts) and the ins and outs of licensing. The authors include profiles of successful inventors (who offer their own insights into the industry) as well as an encyclopedic list of companies seeking new ideas. But don't get the impression that the book is dry. On the contrary. The authors load the volume with lots of anecdotes including how co-author Richard Levy came up with the idea of a Big Wheel style tricycle with a Crest toothpaste tube mainframe while brushing his teeth! Plus, the book is sprinkled with bizarre trivia questions on toys and games that test your plaything IQ and add to the fun.
Gamers Alliance members spend much of their time on games, particularly those whose roots and inspirations stem from the European style of game play. But the world of games is multi-faceted. Our side of games is not the side this volume examines. Don't expect to see The Settlers of Catan mentioned or names like Reiner Knizia, Wolfgang Kramer or even American born Sid Sackson. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the American mass market. What you will find within these covers is a fascinating look at the business of toys (especially) and games with tons of insight into both the creative and business sides of the business.
The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook is a book that lives up to its name. This is not a volume for the budding game designer who wishes to market his European style strategy game. But anyone with an interest in turning an idea for a plaything, be it a toy or mass market American style game, into a successful offering in the marketplace would find this volume a very worthwhile purchase. And for those of us who have a vicarious interest in the mass market world of toys and games and would like to discover how and why things happen, the insights and stories contained within these covers make this book more than worth the price of admission. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Herb Levy
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