Robert Hutchins looks at the amorphous nature of innovation and why evolution is key to survival within toy invention.
Often, inspiration can spring from the most mundane of places: from walking your dog in the park to wondering ‘Who put the Marmite in the fridge?’
Sometimes it can even be found on the bus route between Doncaster and Sheffield, which is most likely, a first in any reality.
But that is exactly where Peter White was first taken with the idea for his board game, Stop On Time.
A bus driver for 27 years, White was tackling his usual route on the X78 First bus when he realised the potential to turn his everyday job into a crack at breaking the toy industry.
The game puts players in the position of bus driver, as they negotiate the map to pick up and drop off passengers, without being late.
Yes, after years of being the subject of public disdain, White wanted to reverse the roles, and with positive feedback, things were going well for the 55-year-old inventor.
But he hit a snag in 2012, when paranoia got the better of him, and he hid the game for three years for fear of his idea being stolen.
Elsewhere, it was on a routine trip to the local park with her dog that Bev Ross first dreamt up the blueprints to the children’s game, Otarie Show.
Originally titled ‘Fetch’, the four-player game saw kids take turns to release their dog into the centre of a park using its elastic tail.
Through a relationship with the head of design and development at Seven Towns, the game was turned into Diggin Dogs for the American market.
It soon caught the attention of French publishers, Asmodee, who transformed the launchers into sea lions (les otaries) and Otarie Show hit the market in 2014.
Bev along with her friend and business partner of 40 years, Pam, has now just returned from Paris where they visited the local Toys R Us to see their game in situ.
What's clear this week is that these are two stories that share similar beginnings, with very different outcomes.
And if there’s anything to learn from these accounts, it’s that while it’s the nature of the inventor to want to auteur a project from start to finish, innovation is amorphous and flexibility is key to success. That is my theory of evolution, at least.
We’re happy to report that Peter White is back out there, drumming up support for Stop On Time, and having presented his ideas to others in the industry, is now “pumped up to make his idea a reality."
So share your stories, adapt your ideas accordingly and trust your peers becasue who knows, your toy or game could just find itself making waves in a whole new market.
We won't bite. But Billy may snort a little.