A grad student hangs castles in the air
When first-year classes at Yale’s graduate school of architecture were told to design a dollhouse for 5-year-olds, Patti Glazer, 26, let her imagination go. “Maybe it’s because I never had a doll-house as a child,” says Patti. Her creation, a collapsible Arabian castle of cloth (with removable plastic inserts as floors), stands five feet high when hung from a ceiling, but can also be folded practically flat. “It took me 24 hours, working straight through, to sew it,” recalls Patti. That was two years ago. Now she is ready to market the toy.
With a prototype scheduled for manufacture early next year, Patti believes that her design can also be applied to other structures. A former Fulbright scholar and an expert weaver, she envisions a collapsible Victorian house, or even an entire apartment block, with buttons and snaps at the doors and the windows. Glazer spent last summer renovating buildings in Hartford, Conn. and is considering a future in neighborhood architecture. “Patti wears many hats,” says a former professor admiringly, “and she has the courage to do what she wants.”
Gamesman Larry Reiner bursts with ideas
“It’s like being an expectant mother all the time,” says toy mogul Larry Reiner, 44, who invented his first game 19 years ago and now holds some 30 patents. “We develop a concept and take all the risk.” Once the Reiner Creative Group has designed a prototype toy or game, he peddles it to companies like Marx, Kenner or Milton Bradley at prices ranging from $2,500 to $50,000. Among the Group’s bestsellers: board games like Obsession and electronic games like the $50 Star Trek Phaser Battle.
The Bronx-born Reiner started his first toy company at 25. When it folded, he took over as head of Ideal Toy Co.’s new game division in 1959. (“I stayed eight years and their sales volume went from zero to about $15 million.”) Head of his own company again since 1966, Reiner lives on Long Island with his wife, Ellen, and their three daughters. “I love to create,” he confides, “but I don’t like to play games. My mind is too active.”
A van named George rolls on command
Bob McCaslin crouches over a plastic van the size of a shoe box and begins murmuring orders. “Left…go straight…please go right,” says the 24-year-old Californian, and, magically, the van starts to move. McCaslin believes that his voice-activated invention (nicknamed “George,” after a landlord who kept demanding his rent) will revolutionize the toy industry once it finds its way to retailers’ shelves. The result of several years’ tinkering that began in a high school electronics class, George (who responds to sounds rather than words) receives commands through a small roof microphone and transmits them to the wheels. Although McCaslin received more than 100,000 orders for George (at $30 per) after a 1975 toy show, production of the toy has been delayed by litigation—the result of a soured business relationship with an East Coast promoter. Nevertheless, vows McCaslin, “George will be marketed someday, somehow, by somebody.”