I was born in the south (South Jersey) on Christmas Day in 1964, arriving early – probably because I heard all the fun my five siblings were having with their new toys and wanted in on the action. I dreamed from a young age of playing for a living for the Philadelphia Phillies or Eagles, but first played baseball and football for Colgate University in upstate New York. While there, Dave Yearick, Ed Muccini and I were inspired by two Colgate alums who had invented Trivial Pursuit, to create the prototype for what would become the TriBond game. I graduated with a degree in Biology and a no-hitter vs. Oswego State College. Colgate dropped its baseball program shortly thereafter.
I fulfilled a dream of playing professional baseball when I joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1988. Touring the US and Canada and playing 90 semi-pro baseball games in 90 days, the team traveled with circus clowns who entertained fans, and an owner/manager who survived polio and played first base on crutches. I wrote a screenplay based on this, the craziest summer of my life, after I discovered that the 1988 Indianapolis Clowns were the last barnstorming baseball team in American history. The team was disbanded after that season. After having a hand in the demise of my second baseball team, I signed a contract to play for the Moroleon Industrials in Guanajuato, Mexico.
After a year in the Mexican Baseball league, it was clear this whole baseball thing was not a viable long-term plan. I returned to the states and abandoned my baseball dream, but not my goal of playing for a living.
In 1989, we produced 2,500 TriBond games. After selling the game out of the trunks of our cars for 3 years, we licensed it to Patch Products and I went to work for the company as its VP of Product Development and Marketing. When I began with Patch in 1992, it was a $3 million company. Nine years later, the company's sales topped $23 million. In that time, TriBond sold over 3 million copies in 13 countries and my second game, Blurt!, topped 1 million copies sold. As the VP of Marketing, I appeared on NPR's All Things Considered, The Early Show and in The New York Times and even landed TriBond a 3 minute segment on Good Morning America. While at Patch Products, I co-designed Mad Gab (now with Mattel),'Nsync Backstage Pass and other games before leaving the Wisconsin-based company in 2001.
Chasing the sun and some sanity, I moved to Florida with my wife and two amazing daughters in 2001. We celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary in July and could not be more proud of our daughters, both teachers like their amazing mother.
In 2004, I self-published the book The Playmakers, which chronicled 75 of the world's greatest toys. It was picked up by publisher Andrews-McMeel and re-released in 2005 as Timeless Toys. The book was praised by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Today Show among other media outlets. My second tome to toys, WHAM-O Super-Book (Chronicle Books, 2008) was picked by NPR as “One of the best gift books of the year.”
In 2010 I served as creative consultant and co-editor on the documentary film Toyland by director Ken Sons. The film debuted at the Sarasota Film Festival and won Best Documentary awards at three other US film festivals. Sold to The Documentary Channel in 2011,Toyland made its national television debut in 25 million homes that year. In 2012 the film aired across Japan.
In 2014, Peggy Brown and I launched a Crowdrise campaign to help our friend and fellow game designer, John Spinello pay for an operation that he couldn't afford. John had invented Milton Bradley's Operation game in 1963, but sold the patent for $500 to a toy design firm and missed out on millions in royalties. The Crowdrise campaign was a huge success, and John's story was covered by media across the globe. Fans from 15 countries sent email to John as did nurses, doctors and surgeons, who credited Operation for inspiring them to enter the medical field. One doctor in particular sent a letter that ended up taking John on a journey of discovery that is chronicled in the documentary film OPERATION: Operation, The Power of Play.
TriBond celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 and I negotiated the sale of that company and all its assets to Everest Toys while finishing my third book, Right Brain Red: 7 Ideas for Creative Success which I cowrote with Reyn Guyer, one of the most successful creative entrepreneurs in America.
In 2016 I launched a new game company with partners, Dennis and Crystal Callaghan and Scott Brown called Roo Games.
In 2018, I began sharing presentations that are playful and powerful. I work with clients to customize every presentation to fit their needs and have presented for Otis College of Art and Design, USC Physical Sciences in Oncology Center, Elmhurst Historical Museum, and the State Bar of Arizona, to name a few.
During the pandemic of 2020, I launched a YouTube channel to celebrate classic playthings and the designers who created them. I love sharing these stories and giving some love to those who gave us some much fun.
Life is short...
Seize the Play!