DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: John Cattermole and Bomtanka

John Cattermole, creator of sphere-like characters called Bomtanka, explains why he won’t rest until the Bomtanka craze has swept the nation’s playgrounds.
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ToyNews’ Toy and Game Inventors Workshop was a terrific event. The concept of getting the manufacturers and inventors together is desirable for all.

An informative seminar session was followed by six one on one sessions where I gave my 15 minute pitch. Most of the companies I saw were surprised that the product had been fully developed and was ready to market.

Of the manufacturers I met, Flair and Vivid had already seen my product at an earlier stage.

Hasbro and Alpha have now been given samples to review. One of these decided there was a risk of competition with their own product. I have not had any feedback from the others.

While licensed manufacture would have been my preferred route, I have become aware that there is potential to market the product as an educational toy. To this end, I was delighted when the local primary school accepted my offer to present the Bomtanka story to the Year 6 children and conduct a Bomtanka trial.

For one afternoon the children took part in a tournament and were shown early stage sketches and prototypes of the product. The high level of energy and enthusiasm took me by surprise. In particular, the 3D printed prototypes captured their interest and sparked off many questions about design and engineering.

"You must have the best job in the world," one child commented.

If only he knew.

Following a trial of the toys at Aston Clinton School, I received this comment: ‘Bomtanka is a highly addictive toy that not only combines the fun of comparing statistics and playground competitions, but rewards children with good mental math skills, too.'

I continue to have interest from independent retailers. In addition to the 90 Entertainer stores, I decided to approach some smaller outlets. What has become apparent is the difference a face to face discussion makes to selling.

One retailer emailed me the next day describing how her nine year old children ‘loved’ Bomtanka and had some suggestions for improvements. She also told me about an upcoming local event called Tring Fiesta.

The streets of Tring are closed for one night later this month and 15,000 visitors are expected. It’s an opportunity made for Bomtanka.

The online sales are starting to increase and the children enjoy the new addition of Bomtanka YouTube video clips where every week we find out something silly about Bomtanka.

Please show your children and let me know what they think.

My final piece of news is an enquiry from a fast-food promotion in South Africa. Elsewhere, I have had an enquiry for a covermount from Mega, the boys’ magazine.

Oh, and I also appeared in the local paper. See the clipping below:

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