How did one of America’s most beloved toy manufacturers emerge from near-death?


What John Hinnen always wanted to do. A natural-born artisan in Illinois spent most of his 20s designing toys and novelty toys in his parents’ garage. He made a series of greeting CARDS and sold them on cowboy boots in downtown Chicago. He created a carefully crafted education toy for kids, and it got good feedback, but it was so complicated that he couldn’t make the economy work. He had a small wooden toy, twisted from the heart into an egg, and he said he “thought it was the next pet rock.” This is not the case.

Life goes on. He is married. In May 1989, he and his wife were expecting their first child. “I have to be real,” he said. He works at the diamond star car factory in bloomington. He had two children and bought a house in a park in Peoria. It was a happy life, despite the sacrifice: “I put this dream on hold,” he said.

Related: think you are too old to become an entrepreneur? Think again.

Then he turned 50, and the unfulfilled dream began to gnaw at him. “I think if I get to 65 or nothing, it’s going to be bad,” he said. He never stopped drafting ideas, but now he is serious about designing games and dolls and trying to sell them to a handful of toy companies that accept unsolicited ideas. To that end, he received an inbox full of rejection letters.

Then, in 2015, his car factory closed. Hinnen got a good severance package, but still: change in the air.

One day, Hinnen elves, and his children to the movies and in the snowball fight sequence – when Buddy spirit through like a gatling gun launch snowballs to cover his half-brother – he had an idea. Hinnom and his youngest son, nate, picked up a plastic bat, they for the invention of the previous cut off the top of the plastic bat, brought it to the snow park, with fresh powder packing up, and take turns swinging each other, releasing “arctic snow snow crystals. ”

Hinnen is starting to get excited. If you adjust and load the sticky snow, here’s a bat, you can make a snowball, throw a snowball and defend yourself.

It was the thought he had been waiting for. Hinnen and his son spent a year’s time to study it, and even persuade a local grocery store from the freezer scrape “snow”, so that in the warmer months development will continue to develop fast. When they understood the concept, Hinnen shot an 80-foot snowball on the back wall of the cole store with a bat, using his son’s video to make a video. “From the parking lot,” Hinnen laughs. “This is a basement inventor thing. You do everything you can. ”

They called it “sleigh”. The only question is who will submit it. The answer is surprising. Through his peers, Hinnen heard of wham-o, which he calls “my young company,” which created legendary toys like frisbee, hula hoop, super ball, goofy strings and slippage. N Slide has recently resumed the practice of accepting documents submitted by random inventors for a long time.

Hinnen never thought of sending anything. Why is he? The company has fallen into obscurity, passing the good times of the past 30 years from owners to owners, whose business prospects and cultural resonance are fading. But recently Hinnen has learned that it has entered a new system, and that it is good to start with a determination to restore its wealth through entrepreneurship.

This means, for the first time in years, wham-o will attack its fate to inspire the basement inventors such as John Hinnen. After 30 years of nurturing his dream, John Hinnen, who has never produced any fruit, came in one day from the cold of the Midwest and sat down to make his pitch.

“My name is John Hinnen, and I’m a product designer from Illinois,” he wrote in an email. “I’m writing for a few reasons… ”

You see, it works.

Todd Richards did not expect to end wham-o. Richards was a tall, affable person, also is a talented player, was from the university of San Francisco 49 ers in the period of free codes, the players, but soon realized that he was eliminated. So he quit and started looking for other ways to make a living. He worked in relationships and eventually became a sales position for the trading card company Fleer. This is a golden age. “Back then in the early ’90s,” he said, “selling a trading card meant you did better than a stockbroker.”

The bottom eventually dropped out of the trading card industry, and Richards found a job on Intex, the multinational toy giant. He did well in sales, and in 2002 he got a call from his former boss in fryer. He said he had just taken over a fund that had a chaotic organizational structure, full of turnover and seemed unable to integrate it. He wants Richards to be senior vice President of sales.


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