Billy Langsworthy is back in the UK after a week at ChiTAG's line-up of events celebrating the global inventor community. Here he shares his thoughts on the trip. Oh, and there's some stuff about Bacon Scented Underwear too.
Last week, I hopped on a plane to Chicago to sample the delights of ChiTAG’s Chicago Toy and Game Week.
Before the week started, I headed off to one of Chicago’s own game cafes to take on Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes at bluffing game Sheriff of Nottingham. Apparently my poker face crumbled when trying to convince him that I had three loafs of bread on me (I actually had four – big whoop).
Anyway, the next morning saw the Toy & Game Inventor Conference kick off. The line-up of esteemed speakers included Exploding Kittens co-creator Elan Lee, University Games’ Bob Moog and Sphero founder Ian Berstein.
These first few days also included meetings with some high profile creators, but that’s for our upcoming monster Toy Fair issue so I’ll keep shtum on that for now.
The first big night of the week was the PlayCHIC Fashion Show, a networking night that sees fashion designers team up with top toy and game brands to launch a series of striking outfits.
Highlights included a snazzy Meccanoid dress, and I’m pretty sure Chicago’s Alhambra Palace on November 19th was likely the only place in the world to see a guy dancing down a catwalk clutching a copy of Mayfair Games’ Extra Extra.
It was a tough act to follow, but the next night featured the TAGIE Awards, a ceremony celebrating the top work of the global inventor community.
Thankfully, this was far from the stuffy night that awards dos can sometimes veer into. Here, fun and celebration was the order of the day.
Whether it was Bop It creator Dan Klitsner turning the crowd into a human Bop It:
Or Mayfair Games president Larry Roznai belting out The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun (with host Tim Walsh losing himself to the music):
As well as this beaut from the TAGIE Awards. MayFair Games' Larry Roznai belting out House of the Rising Sun. pic.twitter.com/ip0V3Bzqnq— Billy Langsworthy (@Ace_Groovy) November 26, 2015
It was brilliant night, and a key example of how the work of Mary Couzin and her team is uniting the inventor community and banging the drum for it to be recongnised by the wider industry.
It also provided the priceless moment of Exploding Kittens co-creater Elan Lee collecting an award in front an adoring crowd of (very vocal) purring cats, courtesy of Hasbro's Joy for All Companion Pets that graced each table.
This then led into the Chicago Toy and Games Fair, a two day show that saw both major firms right through to one-man band inventors showcasing their creations.
You could be fist-bumping Crazy Cart’s Ali Kermani (whizzing around on a RipSurf of course) one minute and then delicately linking together moustaches like a surgeon trying to dodge a major artery with Sack of Moustaches’ creator Tim Walsh (seriously check out the game. It’s dangerously addictive).
I chatted to as many inventors as possible over the week, and many of the interviews will be running on our Bulletin in the next few weeks.
Mary deserves huge credit, for creating a series of great of events but also for almost single handedly making strides to change the way the industry, and the public, views its most vital cogs: the inventors. It’s certainly an ethos we’ll continue to champion back here in the UK.
Although saying that, the first new invention that landed in my inbox upon landing in the UK was for Bacon Scented Underwear, the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon.
The (tongue firmly in cheek) description from J&D’s Foods reads: 'Marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat, J&D's Bacon Scented Underwear represents the gold standard of meat-scented luxury undergarments. Each pair is hand crafted in the USA to offer the support of briefs, the freedom of boxers and the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants. You really can have it all.'
What an exciting time to be alive.