This week, Billy Langsworthy looks at the origins of some iconic toys.

LEADER: Strange beginnings

Sometimes the most powerful toys have humble beginnings.

As TV’s Toy Hunter explains in his opinion piece for this week’s Bulletin, before the addition of colouring and a scent, Play-Doh was originally a substance used for cleaning wallpaper.

Jenga started life as a game that its creator Leslie Scott devised and played in the early 1970s wiith her baby brother’s toy building blocks.

Troll dolls were created by a Danish father who needed a cheap gift idea for his daughter because he couldn’t afford to buy anything. Affordable sheep’s wool was used for the doll’s hair and Dam Dolls, as they were then called, caught on.

Cabbage Patch Kids came from the moment when creator Xavier Roberts stumbled across a community of 950 self-sufficent youngsters living on Tennessee farmland disguised as what the farmer’s wife had deemed ‘suspicious’ cabbages.

When Naval engineer Richard James knocked a coil from a shelf and watched it step down a row of books, Slinky was born.

I may have made one of those up.

More recently, when I first played Bez Shahriari’s soon to be released card game In a Bind, it was in the humble prototype form of a vandalised pack of High School Musical Top Trumps cards.

Anywhoo, it got me thinking that sometimes it’s a strange coincidence, incredible luck or often a humble beginning that helps the industry’s ‘next big thing’ on its way.

In other words, next time you knock something off a shelf, grab a pen and paper and wait for the millions to roll in.

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