Owner: Larry Schwarz, 27
Year Started: 1996
Start-Up Costs: $15,000
1997 Projections: $1.3 million
The story of how Larry Schwarz switched from the serious profession of law to the lighthearted world of toys is unusual. While he was attending law school, his mind would often wander in class, and he'd sketch ideas for cool toys on his notepads. When a Chinese manufacturer agreed to make them, Schwarz abandoned law, and his New York City toy company was born.
Like Schwarz's story, Rumpus' plush toys are atypical. There's Gus Gutz, a stuffed toy whose throat opens so kids can pull out his-you guessed it-guts, and Sy Klops, which has a removable rubber eyeball. Says Schwarz, "So many toys have movie tie-ins that don't focus on fun-I wanted to make toys that kids would want to play with."
Schwarz's business got a boost from FAO Schwarz, which agreed to carry the wacky toys, and from a mention on the "Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee" show. Today, his goods are sold via national toy stores and the Internet. Says Schwarz, "We want to keep having fun."