Submitting a product idea to a toy company is similar, in many ways, to submitting a novel to a publisher. The largest companies usually deal with "middlemen" such as an agent, or a broker, in the case of toy manufacturers. The best idea for a new toy inventor is to research the market to find out if his own toy has a fighting chance. Trends change quickly, but if the idea is marketable and novel, a company should eventually take up the concept and produce the toy.
Research toy companies to assess which manufacturers and your idea for a product have a natural "fit." If this is your first attempt at submitting an idea, rule out approaching the largest toy firms, such as Hasbro. The company does not accept unsolicited ideas and only works with established designers, inventors and agents. Concentrate your efforts on finding small and medium-sized companies unlikely to have large-scale product development departments. Trade magazines for the toy market sometimes carry advertisements for companies looking for new product ideas.
Find out each company's submission procedures. This might be available on the company's website. If not, contact the head of product development to find out the best way to approach the firm with your product idea. Some might not welcome any unsolicited submissions. Some might just want an outline idea, while others require detailed plans.
Send each company on your list a submission in the form they request. Be prepared to provide detailed information on the financial costs involved and the marketability of the product. In other words, do your homework and know the market well. Make sure to include current contact details when you mail your submission and get a return receipt or UPS tracking code in case your submission gets lost.
Work with a toy broker if you want to pitch your ideas to large companies, such as Mattel, and you have the budget. You will have to pay for a product review, and the costs can mount if you have many product concepts.
Keep up to date with toy product trends by reading trade magazines and going to toy stores.
Your initial ideas are unlikely to be successful. Do not give up your day job while you are trying to persuade a toy company to run with your idea.
- "The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook"; Richard C. Levy, Ronald O. Weingarten, 2003
Based on the south coast of the U.K., Sally Nash has been writing since 1988. Her articles have appeared in everything from "Hairdressers Journal" to "Optician." She has also been published in national newspapers such as the "Financial Times." Nash holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.