For 25 years, Bruce Lund and his small band of workers have been dreaming up toys that have thrilled kids around the globe — hydrogen-powered rockets, talking microscopes, and one of the company’s most successful toys, the T.M.X. Elmo Extra Special Edition — the fuzzy, red toy that collapses into fits of giggles at the push of a button.
Lund’s prototypes are all built in his tiny River Forest factory, which, from the outside, is dental-office drab.
“Nobody stops by,” says Lund, 57. “We like it that way.”
If they did, they’d discover an extraordinary place, with a secret vault — and a combination-safe door — that contains about 3,500 hand-built prototypes.
And there’s a wonderfully messy, bright-green workshop, with benches strewn with bits of plastic, wires, batteries and general toy-doll carnage.
“I love a good mess — I really do,” Lund says, tossing a piece of junk plastic to the floor. “The messier it is, the more productive I feel we’re being.”
Any big idea he’s working on now? He offers only this tease: “It’s so lifelike. It captures life more completely than anyone has ever done. It will seem alive.”
Photo by Institute Of Design.
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