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Toy With It Advice from an experienced toy inventor about coming up with and developing your ideas

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Larry Schwarz started his inventing career years ago-whenhe was a kid, actually, and he had a habit of taking his toys apartand then gluing the parts back together in differentconfigurations. Even when he was in law school, Schwarzcouldn't resist doodling his toy ideas on notebook paper. Andso, in 1997, he gave up his law career and formed Rumpus Corp., nowa multimillion-dollar New York City toy company with 36employees.

Schwarz comes up with ideas all the time-in fact, hefilled 26 notebooks while in law school. So how is he constantlyable to come up with fresh ideas when most people struggle to findjust one? It all comes down to his inventing philosophy: "Ithink toys should be fun. I look for toys with an open approachthat kids can find their own way to play with. I want kids to besurprised, and I want the toys to be unpredictable."

And Schwarz's inventions are anything but predictable. Twoof Rumpus Corp.'s biggest sellers have been Gus Gutz and HarryHairball, which kids can reach into to pull out all sorts ofsurprises: spleens, livers, hearts and nine other organs from GusGutz, and goldfish, a mouse, a parakeet, hairballs and otherunexpected pleasures from Harry Hairball. Even the packaging isfun-the boxes are configured so that kids can cut them up andturn them into their own toys.

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