Tony Morley is one of only about 300 full-time toy inventors in the United States, so there’s a good chance that one of his projects — beginning as a crude sketch — is now sitting on a store shelf.
“I try to come up with toy concepts that big toy companies would want to manufacture and sell to the public,” he explained.
Morley said he gets most of his ideas by tapping into his own childhood while sitting next to his wife in their basement workshop and office.
His first big idea came in 1986, after he left his job with toy giant Milton Bradley to invent toys on his own.
“The first successful toy we had was Nerf fencing, a jousting fencing game,” he recalled.
While he dabbles in all kinds of toys, most of his work revolves around stacking things. Morley has found success over and over again since, but he says the toy business tends to be touch-and-go.
“Our income is so unpredictable,” Morley said. “We’ve had some fat years, we’ve had some lean years — couple of scary years when we’ve said, ‘The party’s over — got to go drive a bus now.’”
Photo by Elena Gaillard