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How One Toy Inventor Followed His Passion For Great Designs

Toy Industry Legend, Rich Mazel, Unloads On How To Spot A Good Invention Opportunity

Trading a secure and buttoned-up job in finance for a trend-driven and ultra-competitive career as a toy and game inventor isn’t a typical career track. But for Rich Mazel, his dream of inventing and designing cool toys couldn’t wait any longer.

Rich Mazel, Senior Director of Global Product Acquisition at Hasbro, began his post-Notre Dame (M.B.A.) career in Chicago as a wide-eyed financial consultant for Deloitte, all while frantically sketching and pitching new product ideas to anyone who would listen, and to many that wouldn’t.  In 2005, enticed by the warm weather, green golf courses and creative spirit, Rich moved to Los Angeles.  Eventually his passion for everything fun and innovative led him into the wild and wonderful world of Toy Invention.  Rich swapped coasts in 2013 and joined Hasbro’s Global Product Acquisition team and now heads up the group, taking on the iconic toy brands of Nerf, Transformers, My Little Pony, Playdoh, Star Wars, and so much more.

Meet Toy & Game Designer and Inventor, Rich Mazel

How did you get started in the world of toy and game inventing?

I was always curious and loved consumer products from a very young age.  I was always observing the world and thinking what could make life easier, better, or more fun.  I was always asking “What’s missing?” and kept a journal of the concepts as I came up with them [answers].

What advice do you wish you had as a young toy and game inventor that would have helped you?

You don’t need to be an expert in all areas.  Come up with the ideas and you can find help on artwork, renderings, 3D printing, videos and such.  Don’t wait to learn everything, invention is a process you will learn and refine your workflow by doing it again and again and finding better paths along the way.

“Don’t try to get your model perfect, it will never be perfect.  Just strive to convey the “hook” or what is fun about the product.”

What question should inventors ask themselves during the creation process?

I see many inventors that put an emphasis on patents where they should really think if their concept is marketable. Also do Google searches and see if the product already exists.

What superpower or skillset does an inventor need to be successful?

Unbridled optimism and the ability to hear the word “No” many times over.  Always be curious and travel and strive to get new experiences, it will inspire your creativity.

Ultimate Frisbee, Inventor, Rich Mazel, Fun, Play

As a toy and game inventor, what is one product, service, or item that you wish you could have invented?

The frisbee.  Nothing better than finding fun in an everyday item that is sitting right beneath your nose (or pie, in the case of Frisbee).

Where can young toy and game inventors look for inspiration as they create?

YouTube is terrific for viewing trends and diving deep into niche worlds.  I spend a lot of time on YouTube, in fact I am trend-spotting on YouTube while answering these questions.

Also watch your parents and friends and see what problems they are having, if they are having a problem, there is a good chance other people have that problem as well.  Find the solution to the problem and BAM, that is an invention.

When do you know that your invention is ready?

I don’t think you ever really know so don’t be afraid to show concepts early and get feedback to make your concept even better. Don’t try to get your model perfect, it will never be perfect.  Just strive to convey the “hook” or what is fun about the product. Also, learn to shoot good (and short) sizzle videos for your concept.  A good sizzle conveys the excitement and is less than 1 minute if possible.

Pie Face, Hasbro, Games, Invention, Play, Fun
Credit: Pie Face from Hasbro

Is there an area, genre, or category within the industry that is underutilized or has big opportunity?

I think we are seeing family rebel a little from the increased screen time on devices, so we are seeing more and more concepts that bring people back together physically.

Nerd On!


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