When a bet with his son spurred John Cattermole to crack the toy industry, the designer turned inventor hit the open road towards success.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Going it alone

John Cattermole, the inventor of Bomtanka is an interesting man to follow.

Not in any sinister sense, we hasten to add. Please John, hang up the phone, there’s no need to get the police involved, we simply mean it has been an interesting task charting your journey within the toy industry so far.

But as a side note, are you sure those curtains go with that furniture? (We jest).

We first heard of the designer turned toy inventor in August last year, when he got in touch to tell us about a bet he had on with his son.

It was put to him that he couldn’t create and successfully market a new, engaging and commercially fruitful children’s toy.

From the account he subsequently gave us, we can tell you now that Mr Cattermole is not a man to take a challenge lightly and soon after, not only had he designed and created Bomtanka, a range of mix and match characters that offer a marbles meets Top Trumps  style of game play, but he had gone and ordered 20,000 packets of the blighters to be made and shipped over from China.

In what he labelled ‘a leap into the unknown’, Cattermole quickly immersed himself in the toy market and after a bit of research, and gentle goading on our part, discovered not only the Inventors Workshop, but also the wealth of knowledge, experience and advice that many of the industry’s experts and veterans were willing to impart on him.

By September, Cattermole had introduced Bomtanka to various local schools and was eagerly noting feedback from the focus groups they offered.

However, his biggest triumph arrived that same month in the form of a partnership with the UK multi-channel retailer, The Entertainer, when he secured a product trial run in 90 of the firm’s UK stores.

Cattermole tells us that a number of these stores have since sold out of his toy, and he is now in talks to renew the partnership.

As if this wasn’t all enough to settle the whimsical bet he made with his son four years ago, Cattermole is back out on the public stage, drumming up support for a second series of Bomtanka via his new Kickstarter project.

But what does this all mean for you? Well, apart from providing a clear case study into the ease in which you can catch the toy industry bug, it is also a testament to the tenacity of the toy inventor ilk and a fine example of the rise of the indie inventor.

We know that John, and hundreds like him are out there, plugging away with creations every day. We know that you suffer knock backs, but we also know that – like John – you experience your own triumphs, too.

So, all we really want to offer you this week is the encouragement to keep it up. Because, with so many of the platforms in place to help you on your way today, there’s surely no better time to be an independent toy inventor.

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