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GAMER’S BOOKSHELF: THE TOY & GAME INVENTOR’S HANDBOOK

THE TOY AND GAME INVENTOR’S HANDBOOK

 

by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner

 

(Alpha Books, 560 pages, $19.95)

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy

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.toygameinvent

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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Summer 2003 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy ALHAMBRA (Queen, 2-6 players, about 60 minutes; about $30) The designs of Dirk Henn are no strangers to the readers of GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT. We did a feature on Showmanager (way back in the Winter 1999 issue) and, more recently, Wallenstein (Fall 2002 GA REPORT). Now, the designer returns to an older design, revamping it and elevating it to a higher ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy AMUN-RE (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 3-5 players, 60-90 minutes; $34.95) Ancient Egypt seems to have a strong hold on the imagination of Reiner Knizia. Among Knizia's creations are Tutanchamun (Spring 1997 GA REPORT) and Ra (Summer 1999 GA REPORT). This time, the banks of the Nile serve as the inspiration for his new release: Amun-Re. Amun-Re comes bookshelf boxed with ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy BALLOON CUP (Kosmos/Rio Grande Games, 2 players, about 30 minutes; $19.95) One of the hallmarks of European games is their use of unusual themes. When American game companies do sports, for example, you can generally expect a game based on the Big Four of American sports: baseball, football, basketball or hockey. Not so in Europe. It seems that the sport of ...
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Reviewed by Craig Massey CARCASSSONNE: TRADERS & BUILDERS (Hans Im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-6 players, 30-45 minutes; $12) Carcassonne: Traders & Builders is the latest expansion in what has turned out to be a very successful franchise for Hans Im Glück. The original game hit a sweet spot, appealing to the more serious game hobbyist as well as family and friends looking for a casual ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser DOMAINE (Mayfair Games/Kosmos; 3-4 players, 1 hour; $45) When I first heard about Domaine, this new reincarnation of Löwenherz, I was excited. Löwenherz is one of my favorite games and, for the most part, it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. My initial vision was of designer Klaus Teuber taking the game to another level, which sent a rush of ...
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A Little Bit of Redemption In life, if you're very very lucky, you sometimes get a second chance, a chance to make up for mistakes, a chance for redemption. It seems like our friends who comprise the jury deciding the Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year Award) have earned themselves a little bit of redemption. Last year, in our Summer 2002 editorial, we ...
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(In this issue, we featured Carcassonne:Traders & Builders, the latest addition to the Carcassonne family of games, by Craig Massey. Craig is no stranger to this line as he was the one who gave the original the feature treatment back in the Summer 2001 issue of GA REPORT. So, we thought it might be interesting to "FLASHBACK" to Craig's original look at what turned out ...
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(In this issue, we featured Domaine, a new version of Löwenherz. So, we thought it might be interesting to "FLASHBACK" at the feature treatment we gave Löwenherz way back when - in the Spring 1998 issue of GA REPORT to be exact. So, here it is!) Reviewed by Steve Kurzban LÖWENHERZ (Goldsieber, 2-4 players, 60-90 minutes, 1997; out of print) After the tremendous success Klaus ...
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THE GAMES WE PLAYED: THE GOLDEN AGE OF BOARD & TABLE GAMES by Margaret K. Hofer (Princeton Architectural Press, 159 pages, $24.95) Reviewed by Herb Levy The New York Historical Society has hosted a wonderful array of antique games from the Arthur and Ellen Liman collection. If you are a GA member, you read about the exhibit in our Information Center. The exhibit was also ...
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THE TOY AND GAME INVENTOR'S HANDBOOK by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner (Alpha Books, 560 pages, $19.95) Reviewed by Herb Levy 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 ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser KING’S BREAKFAST (Abacus Spiele/ Rio Grande Games, 3 – 5 players, 20 – 30 minutes; $10) This is one of the gazillion games released this year by designers Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum.  Although this is certainly WAY down on the complexity scale and so light it practically floats away, it is the one that I will likely play the ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy MYSTERY RUMMY #4: AL CAPONE AND THE CHICAGO UNDERWORLD (US Games Systems, 2-4 players, less than an hour: $12) Of all the card games out there (and there are plenty), the Mystery Rummy series is unique. First off, it's a series of games that combine the basic mechanics of rummy with a recurring theme of crime and mystery. It also has ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy NEW ENGLAND (Goldsieber, 3-4 players, 60-90 minutes; about $40) One of the better releases coming out of Germany this year is another concoction by the design team of Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum. Here, players are transported back to 17th Century New England where they seek to settle and become the most prosperous. New England comes with a mounted board ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy PHOENIX (Eurogames; 2 players, less than 30 minutes; $19.95) There has been a surge in the amount of two player games released from a variety of European publishers. Surprisingly, many of them are quite good. Astonishingly, the curve of quality continues to rise. And that curve continues with Phoenix, the latest release from Eurogames. Phoenix is designed by Zach and Amanda ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy QUEEN'S NECKLACE (Days of Wonder, 2-4 players, 30-45 minutes; $24.95) Royalty has long been the source for game themes. But rarely have the jewelers of the royal court served as the main characters in a game. That "oversight" has been corrected in Queen's Necklace, designed by Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti, as players become jewel merchants trying their best to be ...
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