The Toy Insider’s Review of Wubble Rumblers

WWE Wubble Rumblers | Source: NSI International

We loved reading about Wubble Rumblers in The Toy Insider today! The great review tells you all you need to know about this fun line of products. Check out the link to the full article below:

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Making Toys With Covid

Wait, what?

Well, that headline did not come out right at all. 

No, Gigglicious has not taken a new direction into designing infectious toys. What this blog actually covers is how the toy industry has handled challenges with the emergence of COVID-19 and how Gigglicious has fared in this new economic climate.

Gigglicious was fortunate to survive the pandemic in a season where many small businesses did not. We never take for granted how blessed we are to be able to run a business on our own, let alone survive a pandemic. Thank you to those of you who have expressed concern about our business health. Like all of us, we managed to figure it out one day at a time. We are happily back to working and inventing full-time.

While COVID wreaked havoc on a global economic scale, according to The NPD Group, toy sales grew 19% between mid-March and mid-April in the U.S.  In the first half of 2020, there was 9% growth in 12 global markets. The category leader has been Games and Puzzles so far this year, followed by Outdoor & Sports Toys. These categories were obvious frontrunners with everyone stuck at home. How many puzzles did you do?

While toilet paper shortages were making headlines in April, the toy shelves were pretty well stocked. In late 2019, fearing that Trump would impose tariffs on toys imported from China, some manufacturers we spoke with took measures to ship ample product. Once the pandemic hit, they were able to meet demand for several months. 

Like the rest of the corporate world, the main struggle for toy companies was streamlining an efficient way for teams to work from home. From our inventor perspective, all on-going product development conversations and inventor relations reviews abruptly stopped mid-March. Everything we’d presented at New York Toy Fair 2020 immediately became a moot point. If we were actually able to speak with anyone, they were uncertain whether any product would get manufactured for 2021. At the very least, they were in no position to speculate about it when they were simply trying to keep a company afloat from their living room.

Since the world had seemingly stopped turning, we decided to just take time off. I wish I could report that we came up with new ideas, we prototyped, and that COVID was our muse to great ideation. But, that wasn’t the case. We found that in the uncertainty, it was hard to think, let alone create or be creative. We hunkered down with the kids and busied ourselves with house projects and, honestly, I’m not really sure what else we did. We existed. It was all we felt capable of accomplishing. And, at the time, that was something.

Spring turned to summer. We kept periodically reaching out to our contacts and by the end of summer they slowly began to respond to our calls. The market numbers had been released for the first half of the year and the industry appeared solid. Consumers wanted toys and it would appear that they were going to keep on buying. Suddenly product development teams were interested in new ideas. There were slots to fill. Marketing departments were making wishlists. The toy world was ready to move forward and they needed ideas right then.  

We’ve come up with a couple of new ideas, but have mostly re-submitted many of our Toy Fair ideas. Although many of our contacts had already seen them, in the blur of quarantine everything has seemed new again. Currently, we have more concepts under review than we have had in ages. We are hopeful that we will get a few license deals signed in the next couple months.

Just when we thought we had found a semi-normal rhythm to life: then came October.

COVID found its way to our house and put its magic infectious touch on each and every one of us. We are all on the mend and, thankfully, we were not badly effected by it like so many others have been. But our takeaway from the experience is that COVID can be relentless and a tough roommate to evict. (Also that I will never underestimate how much I enjoy tasting and smelling things.)

As always, thank you for supporting our business in any way you can, for buying our toys and for being our friends. We are very grateful for you. Please stay safe and healthy!

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NYTF 2020 Wrap-Up

New York Toy Fair 2020 is now in the Gigglicious history book! 

Javitz Center made from lots and lots of Legos

Here’s a snapshot of how it all went down last month:

23 meetings, give or take. Yes, a couple of useless ones, but the rest were productive.

1 microscopic hotel room. Sorry, I meant a “normal” sized room in NYC.

2 pairs of tennis shoes (I’ve deemed this is the only way to survive)

0 winter coats (a first for us)

2 backpacks full of prototypes (this is an improvement on the full-sized luggage a few years back)

Annie and the Scooby Gang. (The only gang I ever wanted to be part of. I just wished they’d have let me in the car.)

NYTF Highlights:

A very New York picture

Any and every view of the Empire State Building at night, seriously.

Having someone say “This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in two days!” Another one said, “Fast Track this directly to my email. Skip the portal.” Those were great moments where we secretly high-fived under the table.

Seeing a small horse, wearing a coat, standing on the sidewalk waiting for the walk light. Only in New York.

Expecting 0 licenses from a meeting, but getting a request for a proposal for 4.

Getting to hear Ben Veradi from Spin Master play the piano with his jazz combo at the Spin Master party at Stage 48. A lovely little treat.

Perfectly poured, delicious pints of Guinness at the ChiTag event at Connelly’s Pub. 

Our pals, Mary Jo Reutter (inventor extraordinaire) & Brian Turtle (Endless Games) at the ChiTag Inventor Event
Our required, yearly, Times Square selfie. (We are up to about 10 of this same picture.)
He’s just a colorful dude.

The hype and endless work before we Toy Fair is exhausting. I’ll admit it–I gripe about it every year. I usually say I don’t want to go back the next year, but, you know what? I always do. Beyond the sales and networking opportunities (which are huge), its the sense of community, the feeling that we are all striving toward the same goal. It’s our chance to see old colleagues, even better than that, friends.

The NBA is never just a business. It’s always business. It’s always personal. All good businesses are personal. The best businesses are very personal.” ~Mark Cuban

Need a gift idea for the toy lover or inventor in your life?

It’s that magical time of year where everyone hops online to search for gift ideas because they are stumped and have no where left to turn. Need a gift for a beer lover who only drinks craft beer brewed in an organic brewery in the Pacific Northwest? Got a left-handed tween who only wears pink? What could you possibly get that unfriendly vegan co-worker who has an aversion to anything made of plastic or whipped cream? No worries! Someone, somewhere on the internet has a list for that.

“But, Annie,” you cry desperately, “I’ve been looking and there are no ideas for what to buy the inventor or toy lover in my life. No one ever makes a list for that! Help me, great toy blogger!”

Side note #1: Well, there might be a list somewhere. I didn’t actually care enough to check because I like making lists and I like books. I’ll always encourage buying books. Especially if they are for me. Also, while I appreciate the praise, I’m not a great toy blogger. I just do it because it entertains me, maybe enlightens some people about the toy industry, and, well, I like to.

Never fear! I’ve got your back and I’m full of ideas (kinda part of the job). Books are a perfect gift. See, you can’t actually buy them toys because chances are they already own it if they are toy-obsessed or torn it apart if they are an inventor. Books are an easy-go to gift.

So, in one of my many shelves of books (did I mention I’m a bibliophile?), I’ve got a section dedicated to toys, the toy industry, and invention. I’m qualified to make a suggestion or two that will fit this particular niche of people.

I’m such a Santa’s helper that I’ve even added the links to them on Amazon, in case you don’t believe my recommendation and want to check them out to see how many stars they might have.

  • The Toy and Game Inventor’s Handbook: Everything you need to know to Pitch, License, and Cash-In on Your Ideas by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner. This is the ultimate hand book that every inventor needs. If you know a budding inventor and they don’t have this book, get it. They need to own it. Like yesterday.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. This is a book every business person needs to read and re-read every couple of years. It’s not about the toy industry, per se, but more about just being a good person in whatever your line of work. Side note #2: Pretty sure it was the first non-Clive Cussler book my dad recommended it to me. That’s sayin’ something because we’re big Cussler fans.
  • Jump Start Your Brain, Doug Hall. It’s a thought-provoking romp of a book to get your creative juices flowing and step out of conformity. Your creative friend’s brain will thank you.
  • Wham-o SuperBook by Tim Walsh. Great look at a Wham-o’s history and toys that defined generations of kids all written by industry leader, Tim Walsh. You’ll be surprised at how much stuff you remember playing with and forgot about till you see the picture. There’s lots of them, by the way. (There’s also a lot to be said about how toy safety has come a long way!) Tim also wrote a book on Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers who Created Them. It’s another good book, I just don’t ACTUALLY have that one on my shelf, (*ahem* christmas gift hint for me.) but I’ve already read it and it’s a terrific snapshot of the toy industry.

Side note #3: I don’t personally know any of these people. I went to the same university as Ron Weingartner. I know that because I saw it in the Alumni magazine one time. They have no idea I’m recommending their books and they didn’t pay me for it. I suppose I wouldn’t have minded if they did, but really, I just like to support people who are out there trying to make a difference in the creative world. And I like books.

“We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”

―Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wishing you a blessed, joyous, and very, very Gigglicious Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Your FAQ’s

Here are the answers to the most common questions people ask us. If you have a burning question I didn’t answer about Gigglicious, feel free to ask it here or on our Facebook page. (@anniegigglicious)

How do you keep people from stealing your ideas?

A Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). It it an agreement stating that both parties agree to keep ideas confidential.

Here’s our binder full of NDA’s. Our first NDA was signed on February 25, 2011 and the last one was signed NDA yesterday. 

Is an NDA fail-proof? 

No, but it is a measure of protection that most people honor. It’s an easy equation: Inventor-friendly companies want inventors to show them ideas. If they steal an idea, no one will present to them anymore. In our experience, the inventor community will gladly share a story with each other about a company that is difficult to work with or dishonest. Ultimately, we take the risk to reap the rewards of working with good people and getting our products on store shelves for people to enjoy.

Have you had an idea stolen? 

Yes. We saw one of our products on a vendor’s wall at New York Toy Fair. We’d presented the idea to them the year before. That was a stomach sinking moment. Needless to say, we don’t show to that company anymore and won’t recommend them to other inventors.

Did you sue the people that stole your idea?

No. The amount of money it would cost to take it to litigation would probably not have equaled the amount of royalties we might have gotten from the item.

Do you manufacture the ideas you come up with?

No, we sell the idea/concept and someone else manufactures it and sells it. We get a percentage of what they sell. Generally, royalty reports come quarterly. (Yes, we only get paid four times a year.)

Don’t you ever want to make your own ideas?

Yes, we think about it. In fact, we tried once. It was time consuming and didn’t make us any money. There is liability, risk, and much more time and effort to sell your own stuff. We would need a staff of people to help run the company in sales, distribution, warehousing, customer service, etc. Right now, we are streamlined and efficient with just two people to run Gigglicious and plenty of freelancers. Maybe someday we may try again, but not now.

Do you have an office?

Yes, Gigglicious World Headquarters is in a 199 sq.ft. building we built together in our backyard a couple of years ago. The studio space is complete with office space, a workshop for building prototypes, and storage.

How many ideas do you come up with in a year?

We’ve never kept track, but my guess is several hundred in all types of categories.

How do you come up with your ideas?

This is a good time for you to check out the archive (over to your upper left) for April, May, and June 2014. I wrote a particularly riveting seven part series about toy invention and the first three blogs cover ideating that you may want to binge-read.

How do you work together full-time and stay married?

It’s pretty easy now that we’ve been working together for so long. Sure, some days are harder than others, but we are a team. We go out to lunch a lot for meetings. Ryan’s a pretty patient co-worker. I once fell asleep in his office during one of our meetings because the chair I was sitting in was in a cozy patch of sunshine. He let me nap. (*This is an upside to owning your own company. I wouldn’t advise doing this with most bosses) We know we are better together both professionally and personally and that we are lucky to get to do what we do!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Did you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig?

Chinese New Year officially starts is February 5th, so I’m a bit early. While most of my friends and family don’t realize that it is Chinese New Year, it is important to Gigglicious. When it’s Chinese New Year, that means New York Toy Fair is just around the corner. It’s the season when the toy industry whips into a frenzy toward the end of January, cramming to get everything done before China goes on vacation for two weeks.

Typically, the month leading to Toy Fair is the busiest time of year for Gigglicious. We keep a hectic pace and make a frantic push to get our best ideas ready to present. We draw, prototype and design presentations as quick as we can. It’s usual for Ryan to still be up working late into the night before we fly to New York. (Personally, I have my own agenda for NYTF planning which includes what shoes to wear that can endure endless hours of walking the infinite aisles at Javitz. Hello? Can’t walk another step!)

We dart from meeting to meeting, some on-site, many in other locations around New York, praying our taxi will get there on time. We sleep through the return flight home, exhausted. Once it’s all over and we take a moment to finally breathe, there is a nice momentum that continues after February. We have follow-up calls and emails from networking opportunities, that keeps us occupied at least through April. It’s a good flow.

However, we have foregone the craziness this year. We have a wedding to attend the same weekend as Toy Fair. Sorry, not sorry. We tossed an invisible coin and Ryan will be making a brief trip to NY. A trip to squeeze in face time with our closest clients for the last days of the show. He will shake hands, talk about ongoing projects, licenses, and discuss concepts we have already presented to them. That’s it. No presentations to build. No fingers super glued together. No Xacto injuries. No worries about getting our videos to embed properly. Easy-peasy.

Hm. That’s nice.

It’s a strange, but quite welcome relief not to feel jittery at Chinese New Year. This year we are making sure we have the right shoes for the wedding, not the showroom floor. We are enjoying the cold grey mornings by candlelight, rather than setting up a light booth in our living room for product shots. On our school snow day this week, we had a fire and curled up with an action flick and our kids, rather than editing shots for Oscar-worthy Gigglicious movies.

We are making sure to appreciate the oddly-timed break for us this year and are as optimistic as ever that 2019 will be a great one for Gigglicious!


CNY art by

Toys that someone really ought to be inventing

Having given it a lot of unecessary thought, I realized there is a niche out there for unrealistic toys and gadgets that every parent would happily purchase at the snap of a finger or the click of the mouse. Probably should prototype some of these soon. Pretty busy though, so I’ll just write them down so I don’t forget them and hope no other honest reader will steal my idea.


(Note to self: GET TO THIS LIST SOON)

Dart Flower Garden
An assortment of Nerf darts with flower seeds pressed into them. (Alternatively, might have a crabgrass defense system in them too.)
As a parent mows over them in the yard, the darts can also plant a garden, kill weeds, and the parent will not feel guilty about being too lazy to get off the mower and pick them up.

Automatic Wind Kite
Data I’ve never found shows that more people would play with kites if they knew they weren’t going to be wasting their time loading the kites and the kids in the car only to drive to the park and never get the stupid thing to lift off after having run a bloody 5k trying to get it to flop 2 feet off the ground. With the Automatic Wind Kite, every kite would go up and stay up.

The Interruption Interrogation
A Magic 8 Ball type gadget with parent programmed responses to help children gauge a parent’s reaction BEFORE they even proceed with said interruption. As I often tell my own children: Asked and answered.
Example child question: “There is something unimportant I need to say. Should I wake my mother while she’s napping on the couch and ask it?” Pre-recorded parent response: “This is a bad idea. Do you enjoy seeing your mother spit fire? Think twice and go ask your dad.”
Example child question: “I have a unnecessarily urgent need for Sour Heads. Should I ask my dad if I can have them while he is in the middle of fixing the water heater for the fourth time?” Pre-recorded parent generated answer: “Please, please do not do this. Do you want to see the age of 7? Secretly eat two and go do something else. He will never know you had two.”

An RC car with built-in cleaning/vacuuming features
As child races the car all over the house, chases the dog, and is hits their parent’s feet as they cook in the kitchen, the child can also be productive and do a little cleaning, too.
(Extra benefit would be to sell Swiffer shoes for dogs, so they can clean the hardwood while being chased by said RC car.)

Gaming headphones with a built-in voice morphing system
These headphones will change their child’s voice as they speak to other players so parents will easily know that the child is not not speaking to them, but, instead, to another kid. Eliminates the need for the parent to yell every five minutes, “What did you say? Are you talking to me or Thomas?”

Noisy Toy Remote
A remote that would give master control to the user to turn down/off the most irritating sound chips on every. single. toy. ever. created.

Barefoot Alarm built into every small, sharp edged toy
A light and siren is emitted from every single Lego piece, Thomas the Tank engine train, or any other sharp edged toy anytime a parent is barefoot. Would have a built in nighttime feature for nocturnal bathroom trips, too.

Stuffed Animals with a built-in homing feature This toy would take the initiative to find its place back on the child’s bed from any room in the house (or car) so a parent doesn’t have to go looking for it for it while there is a temper tantrum taking place about said missing stuffed animal for 3 hours after you put the child in bed.

So, these are on the list of million dollar ideas that we really ought to be inventing, but the last of the summer sun is shining and I could really use a nap.

Note to self: Get to that list tomorrow.

“There is much work to be done, and we are the ones privileged to do it.”

-Ilchi Lee

Here’s the truth. I’m a big fan of . . .

As a kid, my family never saw a Star Wars movie. Dr. Who was literally followed by a question mark. At my house, we simply turned the channel when the weird logo and music popped up on PBS. We didn’t own an Atari or have cable tv. My dad was sure Betamax would win out over VHS. In short, my family did not excel at anything geeky. We chose James Bond over Obi-Wan, the Skipper and his Little Buddy over Battlestar Galactica, and the escapades of singing siblings over Superman.

Once I met Ryan, I knew I needed to at least have a vague understanding of Star Wars to keep up with conversation in his family. So, I watched it. And, as it turned out, I liked the movie. A lot.

Next, came the move to video games. Ryan got me hooked on Doom and Wolfenstein. The Baron of Hell and I became late-night buddies on the computer. Where had gaming been all my life? My fandom began to insidiously grow.



noun: fandom; plural noun: fandoms

the state or condition of being a fan of someone or something.

  • the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture.

Now, I can proudly boast that I have very high levels of “geek” in my veins. I’m hooked on anything from Marvel to Harry Potter or Dr. Who to Game of Thrones. (Please don’t even get me started on how much I love subtitled Kung Fu movies . . . ) Basically, if any book, movie, or tv show has a trace of science fiction, fantasy, superpowers (and/or Benedict Cumberbatch or Jackie Chan), I’m all over it. (We have a small Dr. Who themed Christmas tree. Yes, I really did that.) 

I seriously love being a fan. I love the mini-fig tchotchkes in my office. But, don’t be deceived—all this is for more than just complete entertainment and personal amusement. I figured out that my fandom has a real-life benefit: My fandoms help with my job!  

My fandoms encourage creativity. As I absorb creative ideas and stories, my grey matter is creatively fed, my thinking expands, and the more creative I become. Ergo, I have new ideas. As I learn about  stories of magical other worlds, unbelievable super powers, sprawling kingdoms and deep recesses of space, I’ve got more ideas to nurture and mull over and put to use. These stories inspire new thinking and creativity.

Fandoms help to keep up with trends. If you’ve ever really stopped to think about what’s on the shelves in a toy store, you’d notice how much real estate is devoted to licensed toys. Understanding the stories behind the toy is necessary in order to be able to design for them.

[Me: I think we might need to buy this Thor action figure to see how the hammer slamming mechanism works.

Ryan: Yeah, we probably do. 

Me: *secret fist pump that I got another Thor figure for my office*]

So, whenever the master license for Fortnite gets assigned and toys need created, Gigglicious is ready to go to work, courtesy of hours and hours devoted to game play by not only us, but our younger employees. They are smack on top of that trend.

Making and taking time to get off auto-pilot. For Gigglicious to creatively move forward, we frequently need to step out of the routine in order to spark new thinking. Ryan tends to find inspiration when he’s vacationing and physically away from the studio.  My personal spark comes from filling my brain with all kinds of stories, so I am always on the hunt for new things to read and watch. Sometimes just physically being in the library gets my brain moving.

What can you take away from my story today? You never know when what you do, what you read, what you watch, and what you love can unlock something much, much bigger in your life. Alohomora!

I have frequently indulged in all sorts of fancies for hours together, and at times when people thought I was very busy. I am sensible how detrimental this is as regards loss of time; yet without some such “fantasy-cure,” I should have never made it to this age. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799)

A Brief Questionnaire All Toy Makers Ought To Take

by  Annie Wolfinbarger

I saw a lot of great stuff at New York Toy Fair. There are really amazing toys coming on the market designed by people who have great insight into how kids play. And, of course, as toy people seeing this great stuff, we regularly get asked what the next big toy will be for Christmas.

My answer? I have no idea. If I could predict what would be a big seller, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen some of the toys that have been the huge hit in the past. Your local anchorperson has ways of figuring that out and letting everyone know on the 6 o’clock news sometime in November what the toy is and that you can’t find it in any store for the next three months.

(I have to be honest with you. As I schlep down miles of toy aisles at Toy Fair, I rather quickly begin to reach a beeping, buzzing, whirring and fuzzy overload. Because it’s a color and noise tornado in that place, I ebb into slowly focusing on how hungry I am or how much my feet are aching. Don’t tell Ryan though. As I drag behind him, he thinks I’m looking, but often I’m just thinking about the big Rice Krispie treat I saw at the deli earlier that day. )

*steps on soapbox*

The one thing that concerns me at Toy Fair and in store toy aisles is the ridiculous number of completely useless toys on the market—the toys that don’t DO anything and sometimes command a hefty price tag for it! Some of the stuff I saw this year left me shaking my head. It worries me that some toy designers aren’t thinking at all about HOW kids play with their toys. There seems to be a lot of slapping a licensed character on something dumb and calling it a toy.

A couple of Christmases ago, my son asked for the hot toy of the season. It was literally the only thing on his Christmas list and all he could talk about for two months. The commercial for this toy showed a couple of joyful kids having the best time of their life playing with this amazing toy! But, Ryan refused to get it. I thought he was just being grinchy when he said, “It won’t do anything. He’ll play with it for 5 minutes and then put it away.”

The way I saw it, I just wanted to get my kid to get the only thing he asked for and the commercial looked cute, so I crossed party lines and bought it anyway. I was so excited for him to open it on Christmas morning so HE could look like those blissful children on the commercial! I knew I was about to make his entire year with this toy.

Guess how that worked out. *shaking my head in embarrassment for being a sucker* He played with it for 5 minutes and then walked away never to pick it up again. It really didn’t do anything it said it could or would. I felt terrible about spending so much money on a stupid toy that now resides on the back of my son’s shelf collecting an impressively thick layer of dust.

If I were in charge of the toy industry, (which I’m clearly not, I can barely make decisions about what to make for dinner) I believe there should be a small list of questions (with a very big title) that every toymaker would have to answer before making a toy.


1. Does it stimulate the child in imaginative or physical play?

2. Does the child play with it for more than 10 minutes in one sitting?

3. Does the child pick it up and play with it more than 3 times?

Bonus Question: Did they ask to take it to school?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may proceed to make the toy. (If you answered yes to the Bonus Question, you may have the next big toy on your hands. Go make some profit!)

If you answered no to any of these questions, please reconsider making useless junk.

*steps down off of soapbox*

At Gigglicious, anyone who has ever considered one of our concepts can be assured that anything we design has to pass the “kid test”. And believe me, our kids don’t lie about it. If they don’t like something we come up with, they TELL us and they aren’t shy about it.

For all of our concepts, we get the opinions of the neighborhood kids, our girl’s boyfriends (poor guys), kids who come over for sleepovers with our kids, nieces, nephews, young adults, and anyone else in the demographic who might play with or has ever played with toys before! We watch kids and adults play with our prototypes. We ask them what would make it better.

Our goal is to make sure that everything we design is going to be fun, it’s going to engage kids, and make people happy. The most important tenet in our business is that we create things that will bring families and friends together to play and that fun is just the beginning.

To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. ~Thomas Watson, Sr.