Tag: Blue Orange Games

Interview with David Wexler, Inventor of Fish Club

Interview with David Wexler, Inventor of Fish Club

Toy Fair in New York

David Wexler is a toy inventor, film director and also happens to be the son of the inventor of Connect 4! He is the inventor of the award winning strategy game Fish Club, released by Blue Orange this year where two families of fish go head to head for the best spot in the aquarium. 

Here is our conversation:

Nicole: What interested you in the game industry and how did you get started? 

David: I grew up in and around the toy industry.  My father Howard, inventor of Connect 4, had an office in the apartment building where we lived. I would often head downstairs to his office, a converted apartment that was like Santa’s Workshop.  I was close with the artists, model makers and seamstresses that worked there, and loved setting up my own area where I could draw, work with clay, and paint.  A lot of that creativity seeped in, probably subconsciously, throughout my childhood.

When I graduated college with a degree in Communication Arts with an emphasis on film, I immediately began making movies, commercials, and television shows.  Soon I realized that a paper script was no different than a paper (or cardboard) model of a board game, and trying to sell both were equally as daunting!  The skill set was very similar for me, and I realized I could create a niche in the “entertainment” business – noticing that lines were being blurred between toys, games, film, and television.

Nicole: How did you come up with the idea of Fish Club?  What was your process of creating Fish club and how long did it take?

David: I came up with the idea for Fish Club some time in 2017.  I was clearing out a storage facility, and unearthed some clear, plastic “tanks” that my father and I had used for various projects in development years prior.  In my office I keep an area of assorted parts and tools (dice, pawns, etc.).  Things to create games.  I kept staring at this thing that looked like a tank, and immediately thought of a fish tank, or an aquarium.  I always keep foam core on hand and began to create shapes – I thought about fish, and buoys, and scuba divers – things you would find in a tank.  For my first model I used plastic rings (meant to look like life preservers), they were just on hand.

The very first Fish Club prototype

The very first Fish Club prototype

The idea would be to gather a group of your life preservers before your opponent as these various sea creatures got in the way. In the second model I decided to swap out fish for life preservers, and after play testing it a bunch it became clear that a curved bottom would add a nice randomizing sea floor to the game – giving it a bit of unpredictable action.  I called it Fishy Tank – it became Fish Club through the development process with Blue Orange.  Fish Club, from the first day I built the original prototype, felt like a special game.  It played clean, I loved the characters, it had great replayability.  I pictured it on shelves early on in the process – when that happens, you know you have something special.

Nicole: What makes Fish Club a unique game?

David: I think what makes Fish Club unique is that very young children, who might not even totally understand the gameplay, can enjoy dropping the characters and watching them bounce around their tank.  There is also a satisfying aspect that if you cannot cluster together five fish, there can still be a winner – the one who has the largest cluster.  This is a good way to prevent too many “ties,” which are ultimately unsatisfying.  I love that Fish Club looks like an aquarium when you are done playing!  No need to store it (I always hated putting games away in boxes!).  Just leave it on your shelf, it looks like you have a new pet.

Fish Club is a 2 player strategy game for 5 & up. The goal is to be the first to group 5 to win.

Nicole: What inspires you to invent?

David: The first seed of an idea, and my first drawing, as I begin to plan out the game – that’s the best part.  Selling it, and having it do well, that’s the cherry on top, but it’s such a tough industry.  If you don’t love the creating, you’re in trouble – there is a A LOT of rejection.  What inspires me to invent is coming up with a story (in this case, two families of fish, going head to head, to fight for a new spot in the aquarium).  I am a storyteller as a filmmaker, and that has translated naturally into working in the toy industry – even if the game doesn’t have great characters like Fish Club (currently we even have a Fish Club comic that is released weekly), I try to come up with a backstory (even if it’s just in my mind) for abstract strategy games.

Nicole: What advice would you give to new game creators?

David: It’s very important to love every aspect of the process.  As I mentioned, the turn down rate is about 90 (if not 95%)!  You need to have thick skin, and not take anything personally.  Every successful concept or sale I’ve had was a NO before it was a YES.  It takes a lot of perseverance and knowing that having a great product is only part of the battle.  Timing, good design, and knowing the marketplace is just as important.

Nicole: What was your favorite game growing up and why?

David: I was lucky to be surrounded by a ton of wonderful games and toys growing up.  Some of my favorite toys were products that my father invented that never even made it to market!  I have wonderful memories of play testing new creations with my brother, family, and friends, all the time.

Nicole: Do you have any new game projects coming up?

David: It’s important to ALWAYS have new games and projects on deck and in development.  I am constantly creating, pitching, and selling.  In Spring 2021 I am releasing a line of six games for a wonderful company called Galison.  The line is called Wexler Studios – three dice games, two card games, and a game called Paper Gravity.  All of them are sold in beautifully designed tins.  I am very excited about this line.

Fish Club has won several awards this year including The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, the Mom’s Choice Gold Seal Award and the Creative Child Magazine 2020 Game of the Year Award in the Strategy category. Fish Club is also a finalist for the prestigious TOTY  2021 Award (Toy of the Year) in the Game category. You can vote for Fish Club here: https://toyawards.org/toyaward/custom/GameToy.aspx…

Follow our social media pages to keep updated on Fish Club!

Congratulations to Shenanigans in Charlottesville, VA for Winning September’s Store of the Month

Congratulations to Shenanigans in Charlottesville, VA for Winning September’s Store of the Month

blueAs if it’s name wasn’t clear enough, Shenanigans is all about the funny business. Our sales representative, Bastien, recommended Shenanigans for their character! From being family owned, to having the friendliest staff, and creating a store with a little bit of everything available, there’s clearly something special about this shop! Although its filled to the brim with entertainment, Shenanigans also has the rich history to match.

Shop owner, Kai, moved from Florida to Charlottesville in the 70’s with her 4 week old son. Working as a copy writer there was never a shortage of tasks that she could lend her creative wizardry to, and add some flare. Just like mom, her son was a little go-getter. As a fast learner, he was walking by 9 months and out growing his old toys and games quicker than most. This left Kai having to travel far just to get those toys and games that were developmentally challenging and gender neutral. With other mothers in the area doing the same, it was clear the Charlottesville needed a toy store where the community could find that big city quality, and diversity, without traveling hours north. It was during these pilgrimages in search of fun that Kai saw a future for herself and family. Since she had also been looking for work with a young child, she was able to design a job with built in childcare that was just right for her. Thus Shenanigans was born!

 store 4With it’s door open for over 40 years, this shop knows fun like no other! In 1974 Shenanigans first welcomed those who sought out fun engaging toys and games without the journey. Fast forward to today where they still provide just that. Even though they aren’t the only toy store in the neighborhood, Shenanigans still reigns supreme! Kai states, “what sets them apart is their product selections”. With such a cute, little store, every item within those four walls is curated by their staff with maximum fun in mind. Knowing what makes customers squeal in delight is something that keeps the neighborhood coming back. Tailoring their selection so that games are completely original and never stale is exactly what puts Shenanigans at the top of the list!

Dr Eureka BoxAs far a Blue Orange Games, Kai would have to name Dr. Eureka as one of her favorites. Going into detail, Kai says our games have such bright and nice art and there’s always a great eye-catching factor.  But what truly lies beneath the cover is Blue Orange’s dedication to inspiring STEM and core developmental skills that don’t go unnoticed to parents. Kai motto is that “if it’s boring, it’s not educational, since they’re not going to play it”. This blunt but true statement by Kai really resonates with our product line.

Kai elaborated that the kids don’t need to think about the skills they’re gaining, but rather the fun should conceal it. When playing with building blocks, a child doesn’t necessarily know he or she is developing a basis of engineering, nor do they understand they are growing familiarity with STEM when they play a game like Dr. Microbe. Blue Orange has the same values; learning should be fun, and if kids already want to play the games then half the work is already done. Shenanigans’ philosophy is to leave the term educational out by labeling their games and toys as fun! As a type of parental shenanigans, or a method of mischievousness, kids are left having uninhibited fun without knowing that their developing better motor and strategic, critical thinking skills!store 1

When considering their success, Shenanigans is no stranger to being a community staple. Kai thanks her neighborhood for being the perfect location, as it is a region with few chain stores and many unique shops that are supported by their community. Not to mention being between two hubs of the city, Shenanigans is accessible for all, either for a quick stop in for the grand kids, or an afternoon spent exploring with the kids. Make sure to grab a copy of the original Shenanigans Coupon Book, with monthly deals such as Board Game Discount November coming up, it’s sure to be a good time! 

Working with Shenanigans has been a pleasure and we proudly award them September’s Store of the Month. As a important part of Charlottesville , Shenanigans is a place where you can find something for everyone, from the helpful staff to the perfect game. Shenanigans is always reachable via their website here or at 601 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA.

Congratulations!!StoreoftheMonth_HiRes

Why Play is Important in Child Development

Why Play is Important in Child Development

image001 Parents want to give the best opportunities to their children. Music lessons, language lessons, extra tutoring, after school learning programs, the list can go on and on. We all want to give our kids the advantages and opportunities to succeed and/or perhaps we didn’t have as children. All of those activities are wonderful opportunities. However, play sometimes gets a bad reputation as being frivolous. On the contrary, play is very important in child development! If you want to learn more, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development (read here). Play can reduce stress and anxiety for kids AND adults so make some time to get silly! The National Lekotek Center , a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play. They have 20 wonderful reasons to encourage play for ALL Children.

Top 20 Reasons to Encourage Play for ALL children

  1. Play advances many cognitive skills like learning to focus and paying attention to details.
  2. Play produces an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind that benefits a child greatly.
  3. Play opportunities help a child develop problem-solving, organizational and planning skills.
  4. Play promotes both long-term and short-term memory.
  5. Play stimulates language, negotiation and communication skills.
  6. Play teaches a child how the world works from gravity to how things move, float or fly.
  7. Play experiences allow a child to explore symbolic play, imitation and his own creativity.
  8. Play allows a child to build confidence, one trip down a slide or throw of a ball at a time.
  9. Play provides the feedback a child needs to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
  10. Play is an excellent way for a child to connect to nature and to explore its many facets.
  11. Active play can enhance a child’s mood, coping abilities and defuse emotionally charged events.
  12. Play teaches the cornerstones of relationship building, cooperation and compromise.
  13. Leadership along with group skills are learned through team or collective play.
  14. Active play promotes a healthy body for children and lowers their risk of obesity.
  15. Play promotes brain development through the use of both the body and mind.
  16. Play can teach a child the lessons of strengthening and balancing his body and coordinating his hands and eyes.
  17. Play stimulates resiliency by prompting the child to try again and learn patience towards self and others.
  18. Play fosters courage to swing higher and jump farther.
  19. Play teaches empathy by allowing a child to explore the role of both winner and loser.
  20. Play leads to engagement and enjoyment that provides a child with both physical and emotional release.

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DIY Spot it! Ice Breaker

DIY Spot it! Ice Breaker

Spot it! Ice Breaker

Hosting an event or party in the near future? Worried that conversation will be lacking early in the event? Blue Orange Games will take that worry away by sharing with you our favorite and most successful ice breaker!

Spot it! Ice Breaker Essentials

Your Checklist:

  • Your Favorite Spot it! Cards (Of Course!)
  • 2″ Cork-board DiscSemi Strong Adhesive Glue
  • 1″ Bar Pins
  • Laminating Machine (Optional)
  • Clothespins (Optional)

All of your crafting materials can be found at your local craft & hobby store and purchase Spot it! online or visit your local toy shop.

This simple craft will guarantee that your guests begin mingling from the beginning to the end of your party! Whether you are making Spot it! Ice Breaker tags for a kid or an adult party, your little ones will make great helpers.

Spot it! Ice Breaker Steps:

1. Pick your favorite Spot it! Edition

If you are having a themed event or party, choose from one of our many editions. This is an easy way to incorporate your theme into the event’s details. Spot it! MLB, NHL, and Halloween are just a few of our themed editions. However, you can never go wrong with our classic Spot it!

spotitnhl_gamer   spotitmlb_gamer   spotithalloween_gamer

          Check out our website to browse all of your options! 

2. Laminate your Spot it! Cards

This step is optional and depends on what type of look you are trying to achieve. If you choose NOT to laminate your Spot it! cards, this will not change your outcome of your Ice Breaker pins, lamination only increases the pin’s durability.

3. Time to Glue!

Blue Orange found that a strong adhesive was best for this project. Any type of rubber cement, Gorilla Glue, or a strong adhesive will work. Apply desired amount of glue to the cork board. Apply the cork board to the red side of the Spot it! card (shown in picture). Make sure you are not gluing to the side of the card with the matching symbols…

glue    spotitcard    finishedbackofpin

Our next gluing adventure consists of adding the wearable pins to the middle of the g symbols…cork board. Do not worry about the placement of the pin, some images will be upside down and some will be normal.

Press down for a few seconds and move on to the next Spot it! card.

4. Wait! Let your Spot it! Pins dry

5. Party Time!

samwearingpin
Invite your guests to wear your Spot it! pins around your party and find a match on other guests’ cards. Remember this is a great Ice Breaker since every single Spot it! card has a match!

Want to add even more competition to your Spot it! Ice Breaker? Purchase small clothespins of your choice and attach 5 around each guest’s Spot it! card. Whoever is the first to find their match, collects a pin from their opponent. Players can only face each opponent once and whoever has the most pins wins a prize!

spotitbin

Ice Breakers are always great, but are not limited to the first day of school, birthday party, company event, or a family reunion.

Be on the look out for new and exciting Spot it! editions coming soon!

Did you use Spot it! Ice Breakers at your party or event? If so, let us know on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook! @BlueOrangeGames

New Spot it! Unveiled at Annual SF Giants Event

New Spot it! Unveiled at Annual SF Giants Event

Blue Orange Games hosted its annual Giants Event this past weekend. We invited all of our Bay Area retailers to enjoy a night of games, food, drinks, and baseball…and most importantly—to unveil a new Spot it! game!

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The office slowly turned into a party space with games on every table, lots of snacks, and a rotating hot dog machine. Each table offered seating for guests, as well as many of our favorite Blue Orange Games. Toy store owners and workers were able to enjoy playing new games, such as Battle Sheep, Aztack, and Niya; while enjoying classics, such as Spot it! and Gobblet. The competition became intense when co-workers challenged each other to a game…which always followed with several rematches.

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Guests were also introduced to Blue Orange’s Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition. This Spot it! features images from all of your favorite sites and memories at and around AT&T Park. Each attendee was asked to grab a Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition Ice Breaker pin to get the party started. This ice breaker pin consists of a Spot it! card to wear on your shirt, you then go around to other guests to try and seek your match! To learn more about creating an Ice Breaker pin for your next party, keep your eye out for upcoming posts on our blog, Facebook, & Pinterest.

signandbox    giantspotit    icebreakersign

Toy store guests walked into the world of Blue Orange and were able to connect with many Blue Orange workers and the atmosphere in which we work. Upon entering, guests checked in and received a ticket to the Giants game, as well as a chance to enter into a drawing. The drawing consisted of many Giants themed prizes—Giants flag, bobble head, hats, & best of all two tickets to the Virgin Mobile Suites. Drawing winners were announced toward the end of the event and headed to the ballpark!

We were excited to feature a photo booth for our Blue Orange team and guests to have some more fun. The photo booth consisted of a fun backdrop and many crazy props to create a fun and creative picture! Stores gathered their whole crew to squeeze into one picture and strike a pose.

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Once 7:15 hit, it was game time. The event moved down to AT&T Park to enjoy a beautiful night of baseball in San Francisco. This annual event is always a great way for Blue Orange to connect with their retailers and to appreciate them. We would like to thank all of those who attended our event, and to those who could not make it—we hope to see you next year!

Look for Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition coming your way soon. Go Giants!