Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

July 23rd 2015 at 1:06PM
UPDATED July 28th 2015 at 12:01PM

Robert Hutchins watches ToyNews' Billy Langsworthy grab a spot on TOWIE while Accentuate creators Graeme and Fiona Fraser-Bell enter the Dragons' Den.

The past week has seen ToyNews enjoy its closest brush with the glitz and glamour of reality TV to date.

If you are a regular viewer of The Only Way Is Essex, you will know that last night’s finale was a very special one indeed.

That’s not because ‘Chantelle’ finally came clean to ‘Dean’ about the boob job (yes, I'm not a regular viewer), but because if you squint hard enough, you may have spotted a recognisable face among the collagen and sea of tan.

Yes, our very own Billy Langsworthy made an appearance in a crowd of partygoers. Subtle as ever, he can be spotted from an aerial shot of the carnival-themed party, wearing an understated lime green t-shirt and coming to within an inch of passing out as Lauren Pope slinks past off camera.

And if you don’t believe us, he even took the trouble of capturing this screen of to prove the naysayers wrong:

Meanwhile, party game inventor duo and creators of Accentuate Graeme and Fiona Fraser-Bell faced the cameras themselves this week, as the pair took on the newest panel of investors and professional entrepreneurs in BBC’s Dragons’ Den.

Even under the heat of the television studio lamps and the barrage of tough, thorough and at times near-the-mark questioning from veteran Dragon, Peter Jones; the pair remained as cool-headed as ever.

In truth, if my television had a ‘suave’ dial next to the contrast control, it would have been displaying at maximum – as Graeme and his own trans-Atlantic accent had all five Dragons putting on their best imitations of accents from across the globe.

As if there was ever any doubt, the Fraser-Bells emerged victorious from the Den, securing £45,000 of investment for a 40 per cent stake in the Accentuate business, to take it across the world.

It was the appearance of the brother-sister duo on the reality TV series that got us thinking, and not just about how bloody watchable a Toy Inventors Big Brother special would be (we'll film the pilot at the next Board Game Club) but about what the next steps to success are once you have developed a finished product.

There’s no doubt that Kickstarter has changed everything in the toy inventor stakes. Thanks to crowdsourcing platforms, it’s a Wild West of invention out there, and the rules are constantly changing.

Today, more and more inventors are securing funding for their products through these platforms, some start-ups struggle when it comes to the stockpile of product sometimes left over, short of pedaling it to retailers across the country.

It’s a concern that the new US private marketplace Fitzroy Toys is only too aware of, and as a result the firm has launched its initiative to act as mediator between the indie toy makers and retailers.

By joining the site, start-ups can be put in touch in retailers, while retailers can visit and source the latest offering from the independent toy scene.

The platform is currently only available in the US, but hopefully it’s an initiative that will soon land in the UK, too. After all, it’s not always easy going securing a 10-minute slot on a primetime BBC One series.

Meanwhile, we at ToyNews will continue to do our part in getting you connected with the right people as we once again tout the importance of booking your place at the Inventors Workshop this September.

Tickets are still on sale and the Early Bird rate will be closing in the next couple of weeks, so make sure you get yourself a bargain by visiting: www.inventorsworkshopevent.com.