Exclusive: the toy inventor in the time of Covid

Published on: 5th February 2021

Inventor Richard Levy addresses the current challenges of pitching to toy companies during the Covid pandemic.

Richard Levy, toy inventor

With the toy world turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic, toy companies are surviving by changing their modus operandi. Unfortunately for inventors such as myself, a major element of survival planning involves sticking with tried and true, best-selling ‘sure thing’ brands. A side-effect of this approach is that toy companies may be less inclined to take a chance on new and unproven new toy inventions.

One of Covid’s biggest casualties, toy inventors have fuelled the toy industry with their revolutionary new products for years. However, with the vast majority of physical toy shows cancelled or moved to an online-only format, inventors are facing numerous hurdles in the pursuit of recognition. Very few new toy inventions are being considered or developed for launch at Toy Fair 2022 as a result. The biggest stumbling block is identifying, tracking down and getting in front of key decision makers within the toy industry, securing that all-important Zoom meeting in which to pitch inventions on camera. As an inventor myself, I’ve had to be absolutely relentless in my efforts to overcome this challenge, and I’m pleased with the tangible success I’ve seen as a result of my efforts.

By far my best weapon has been LinkedIn; the captivating and provocative messages I’ve been sending to toy company presidents and CEOs, as well as their directors of marketing, have generated an unexpectedly strong response. These messages, kept short and sweet in recognition of the time pressures many are currently dealing with, include an enticing ‘teaser description’ of the toy invention which I feel has the greatest sales potential for their company. For example, I’ve invented a new Frisbee-like flying disc that will stay aloft longer and go much further than a regular Frisbee. Simple USP highlights attract attention, and can open doors to more in-depth conversations. Another successful tactic, to my surprise, has been sending amusing videos of me pitching one of my most interesting toy inventions. I tend to find the top guns interested in finding out more will refer me to their inventor relations person, who will often contact me the same day, inviting me to a Zoom session to present my inventions in person – or as close to as it’s possible to get these days.

As for protecting my IP when pitching inventions, most toy folks are honest; my ideas being ‘stolen’ isn’t something I worry too much about. Besides, inventors receive around 5% royalties, while toy companies will take home 95%.

Toy inventors must be relentless when trying to attract the attention of toy industry decision makers. Despite Covid’s impact on the toy industry, there are still many companies out there actively looking for the next big toy invention.

To contact Richard, email or call 00 1 (914) 659-5200.



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