Haystack Toys' second annual The Great American Toy Hunt is here! Dan Lauer, founder of Haystack Toys, hopes to find up to 10 new toys in this year's contest (compared to five in 1999), set to launch in September. Lauer reports that 1,200 inventors entered The Hunt last year, and he expects thousands more to enter this year. Each winning inventor will receive a 5 percent royalty, a $5,000 advance and a $50,000 commitment from Haystack to help develop the idea. The Hunt will be in nine U.S. cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis. Detailed information can be found at www.haystacktoys.com.
Lauer started The Hunt, he says, "because the toy industry has become dominated by toy store buyers, and the emphasis is on licensed products and low-priced toys. What's gotten lost in the shuffle are the great, innovative toys that kids like." Lauer isn't looking for electronic toys or board games, but rather large, tactile toys that encourage imaginative play. "[I want toys] that will become the child's favorite toy-the ones that have the 'double wow' factor, meaning the kids 'wow' at least twice when they first play with the toy."
Don Debelak is a new-business marketing consultant who has been introducing new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).