Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vertical Marketing

There's a man in a tree in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

We didn't notice him right away. It was the white cup that first got our attention. We were walking along the other side of the street when this thing on a string caught the sun and then our eye. "Is that a bird feeder?" I asked my wife. "It's hanging kind of low, isn't it?" she responded.

We walked closer and heard the music at the same time. Looking in that direction and seeing no one, we were puzzled. Then it dawned on us, "There's a guitar player in that tree and that's his tip cup."

We smiled and continued our window shopping. His exceptionally different approach won me over, and before we headed back to the car, I had to cross the street and see for myself.

"Hello, there!" I called. He was way up there, sitting on a branch like he'd been there many times before. It seemed too intrusive to take his picture, so we just listened for a bit. 

There's a man in a tree in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He has my admiration and two more bucks.

Seize the Play!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

25 Years of Making Connections

I'm not sure where the years went, but TriBond, a game about making the connection among 3 clues, turns 25 next year. We are gearing up for one heck of a party (and a new edition), but in the meantime, you can play along with the TriBond of the Day, at www.tribond.com.

We believe people long for connection with their friends and family through shared experiences that involve play. That's because play is a powerful force. Over the years we’ve gotten hundreds of letters and email from fans who have used the game to connect to one another. There was the man who wrote to thank us for creating the game because it reconnected him with his father. They were estranged and got together only on holidays. One Thanksgiving, while playing TriBond, he heard his dad laugh and something changed. Play reconnected them. 

Another young man wrote to tell us how he used TriBond to ask his girlfriend to marry him. He secretly placed his proposal on one of the game cards, because they had met playing TriBond at a party years before. She pulled the card and almost passed out. She said yes, but the way. 

Stories like these make the connections created by our game, all the more rewarding. Over the years, we’ve sold 3 millions copies of TriBond. That’s a lot of connections!

Here's to 25 more years of making more... Seize the Play!



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chuck Foley, Co-inventor of Twister, Passes

On July 1, 2013, one of the men who helped tie us up in knots, passed away. Chuck Foley, along with Neil Rabens and Reyn Guyer, developed the first game where the people playing are the play pieces. Twister debuted in 1965, didn't take off until a year later, and went on to become one of Milton Bradley's most successful games.

Chuck was very passionate about inventing and it was my great fortune to interview him for my book, Timeless Toys, in 2001 and 2002. We continued our correspondence long after the book was published, and he sent me some writings, old poems and articles from his inventing career. According to his obituary, he held 97 patents when he died last week, at the age of 82.

Although Twister was his best-known toy product, he also invented or co-invented Fishville Super-quarium, Striker: A Safe Dart Game, The Zip Code Game, Traffic Jam, Paddle Pool, Grab A Loop, Plot!, NO GO and many, many more playthings.

Another big hit for Chuck came outside the toy world, in the form of a compound known to many in the photography world as UN-DU. It's an acid free adhesive remover that I used for years before I met Chuck. The stuff is incredible - far better than its better-known competitor Goo Gone.

RIP, Charles Foley. Thanks for making the world a far more interesting place.


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