DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Omri Rothschild, Boaz Coster and Elefun

Omri Rothschild and Boaz Coster reveal how Elefun was born in a small damp cellar in Tel Aviv, Israel.
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Elefun was developed in a small damp cellar, six stairs under ground level in Peretz Hayout St in central Tel Aviv, Israel.

The year was 1990.

In that little room, Omri Rothschild and Boaz Coster were creating and developing games and playthings.

Omri's vision that ignited the whole thing was: 'Children picking oranges of a tree, but there's no tree and they pick it up from the air.'

That vision bumped into a minor problem named gravity, which led us to various directions an solutions which did not catch air. That drew us to make alterations.

That little workshop did not have, at the time, an air conditioner. The breakthrough came when playing with the ventilator.

Some straps of cloth and plastic were tied to the ventilator, facing up and flying in the air, but how would we fly something high enough and release it so kids could catch flying objects? And what do we do, as every standing pipe or plastic tube is too stiff to be tackled and would easily fall down?

Many questions and obstacles that were simply solved with the breakthrough of the polyethylene 'pipe' that would not be a safety hazard and will not fall when touched.

That direction worked fine and we checked numerous kinds of polyethylene.

At that stage we were searching for a subject to the game, a theme that would go hand in hand with the "mechanics" we had.

At first it was supposed to be a snow factory - a tall chimney that flies cotton resembling snow. Being somewhat too imaginary, we decided to go to the obvious animal direction.

As the long pipe was the leading feature, it led very obviously and quickly to the elephant as a major candidate.

We tried to figure out what was it that the elephant throws out of the trunk, remembering that what we are dealing with is one of nature's more complex inventions. an organ that is a straw, an arm, a nose, a hand, a sound device, liquid hose and even a snorkel, all in one.

If nature was so creative, we said, why not add butterflies? So we did. Butterflies would be collected by young kids in plastic nets. It now seemed very natural.

All components were recognised elements, and together made sense as a classic happening of established associations.

Some final details were incorporated, like the size, weight and shape of butterflies. The motor would generate the magical moment.

We were very lucky to ourselves come up with the name Elefun, so we could not only invent and design a new concept and game, but also create a brand name.

We built a simple working prototype and went to Toy Fair.

It was at the same time when we was notified of the merge/acquisition between Hasbro and Parker Brothers, and we had a joint meeting with the Milton Bradley product acquisition team along with 'newcomer' Tom Dusenberry, at that time Parker Brothers' president.

Both wanted the game. It came out, in the beginning, in 1992 under Parker Brothers, later MB and now Hasbro Games or Hasbro Gaming.

It has charm and it looks and plays differently from other games in the same category.

It has presence and is very photogenic. In seconds you can "get" the fun of Elefun. It is a subtle action game, which can be played by two or more as a race, or by a single kid having fun on their own.

Our cute game from the cellar went to many millions of households all over the globe, and soon enough a new special version will be launched.


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