Everyone remembers the joy they experienced as a child when they received a new toy for Christmas or their birthday. For both entertainment and educational purposes, toys are an important part of any child’s development during adolescence. As it turns out, creating unique and innovative new toys can be quite the profitable business. It’s a business opportunity that few actually think of and even fewer succeed in capitalizing on. With a solid game plan, however, you can start up a toy invention business that’s extremely successful.
Obviously, you’ll need to figure out what kinds of toys you’ll be producing. Whether it’s board games, action figures, construction sets or electronic gadgets, it’s best to decide on one category at the outset. That’s not to say that you can’t branch out later. However, you’ll find it easier in the beginning to stay in one given wheelhouse. Whatever niche you settle on, be sure to come up with ideas that aren’t already being produced by other toy inventors or manufacturers.
You’ll want to think about how you’ll be monetizing your toy ideas before you start coming up with prototypes. You can choose to either license your ideas to toy manufacturers or produce them yourself. In addition, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll sell your hardware online or pursue traditional avenues of distribution such as toy stores. If you’re short on capital and need seed money to get started, inquire with the Small Business Administration for loan information. Alternatively, Kickstarter is a great way to crowdsource funding.
Conceiving & Designing Your Toys
The conceptualization phase of toy invention is without a doubt the most difficult part of the process. Setting up a home office or workshop for drafting your ideas will be a key consideration. You can use free software like FreeCAD and Blender to assist you in coming up with designs. Also, you may want to get a benchtop injector for crafting prototypes of toys from plastic. It’s incredibly important to be able to produce physical examples of your toy for tweaking and experimentation.
Licensing and Manufacturing
Once you’ve finalized a design for a toy, you can license it to a toy manufacturer or go about producing it yourself. Patenting your toy is a must if you decide to go the DIY route. With electronic toys based on the Arduino or Raspberry Pi boards, it’s quite possible to manufacture it yourself. One of the best resources for locating reputable manufacturers in your area is the Toy Industry Association. Sign up for their newsletter to help you find companies that can bring your vision to life.
Marketing Your Finished Product
Attracting a following for a toy is the hardest part of making money with your inventions. Children and even toy-loving adults are notoriously fickle. Start out small by going to nearby toy and hobby shops and hawking your wares there. Small, independent vendors will help you to grow by way of word-of-mouth promotion. Attend a few toy conventions such as the International Toy Fair in New York City if at all possible to promote your toys. In addition, selling online is always a great way to expand your toy’s reach.
Making It Happen
Being a toy inventor is a fun and unique way to express yourself and make a buck at the same time. Success in this field requires hard work and ingenuity as well as a little bit of good luck. The best way to get started is by making prototypes for your own children or the children of friends. If your toys can keep them amused, you have a good chance of turning your hobby into a full fledged career.