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Here's Your Chance

Inventors go toy-to-toy for development dollars.

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This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Calling all toy inventors: On September 11, Haystack Toys will start its second annual Great American Toy Hunt. , Missouri-based Haystack Toys Inc. will be hitting Dallas, , Miami, , , , Seattle and St. Louis in search of the next big idea.

Up to 10 winners will receive a 5 percent royalty, $5,000 advance and a commitment to spend $50,000 to help develop the idea. Competition will be fierce: Dan Lauer, toy inventor and Haystack Toys' founder, expects 12,000 entries. But here's a tip: Lauer isn't looking for board or video games; he's on the hunt for large, tactile toys that encourage imaginative play. One of last year's winners was the CuddleFish, a stuffed toy invented by Frank Young and Liz Farley of Mound, Minnesota, that makes underwater noises.

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