Tag: gifts for children

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!

Blue Orange Games 2019 Holiday Gift Guide!

Blue Orange Games 2019 Holiday Gift Guide!

The holidays are fast approaching and we understand it can be difficult to find the perfect gift for family and friends. We’re here to make the holiday shopping process easier with a great selection of our games!

These games are for the person in your life that loves to break out fun games when you get together during the holidays and can’t get enough!

Beagle or Bagel? Ages 7&up, 2-6 players

Who knew that sleeping dogs and bagels could look so similar! Flip the cards quickly and be the first to call out beagle or bagel depending on which is showing the most on the table! There are three different ways of playing to challenge your friends and family during the holidays and keep the fun going! Skills: Visual Perception | Processing Speed Check out this awesome video review by Vat19! How to Play!

Bears in Barrels Ages 7&up, 4-8 players

These two bears stuck inside their honey barrels love to play by wrestling and tumbling and racing! Roll them over so they can continue chasing one another and their fun never ends! This party game is all about dexterity and fun: with one finger, players rush to flip the bear so that it lands right-side up then pass it quick to their neighbor, to avoid losing a honey token. The goal is to not get caught by the other bear! Skills: Fine Motor | Social Play Check out this fun video on Bears in Barrels!

Panic Island Ages 8&up, 1-8 players

Hurry! The volcano on your island is going to erupt and the inhabitants are counting on you to save them before 2 minutes are up! Flip 2 cards at a time and remember their location to create the right pairs, don’t get delayed by the wacky action cards, and find the raft and paddle to escape safely! This unique cooperative race takes players on a frantic adventure they will only survive with strategic teamwork and memory! Skills: Memory | Focus & Attention | Cooperation | Social Play

Gifts for the person in your life whose mind is always buzzing. In their spare time they love to stimulate their minds in fun, creative, and challenging ways!

MindBlock Ages 8&up, 2-4 players

Rummy with stacking building blocks! Create sets and runs by combining blocks that range in height of 1 to 7. Sets are made with 3 or 4 blocks of the same size, but different colors. Runs are made up of 3 or more blocks of the same color in consecutive order. New opportunities come from the ability to stack blocks on top of others to form new heights. Think ahead and make the right decisions, without losing track of what’s on the table as you dissemble runs and sets and assemble them into new ones using your blocks. The goal is to get rid of your blocks first. Skills: Strategy | Focus & Attention | Math How to play!

TumbleMaze Ages 8&up, 1 player

Let’s get this ball rolling! In this solo action puzzle game, challenge yourself to roll a stainless steel ball into a specific spot with a minimum of trials, navigating between obstacles and using bonus walls to guide the ball into the right direction. This ball rolling game gets tougher with higher level challenges! Skills: Visual Perception | Focus & Attention | Logic Check out this video review by Lucky Penny Shop! How to play!

These games are the next hit at your holiday game night! 

Detective Club Ages 8 & Up 4-8 Players

Detective Club is a social deduction party game featuring beautiful, surreal artwork and intriguing player interactions! Each round, one player secretly writes a word in all but one of the other players’ notebooks. The player who does not know the word is the Conspirator this round. All players then take turns playing cards they feel best represent the word. When the word is revealed at the end of the round, each player explains why their cards make sense with the word. The player who didn’t know the word will have to quickly come up with an explanation in order to not be detected! Skills: Creativity | Storytelling | Social Play Check out this video review by The Dice Tower!

Planet Ages 8&up, 2-4 players

This game has been acclaimed by reviewers since its launch and even won the coveted Mensa Select Award. Player take on A world is taking shape in the palm of your hands. Take on the role of super beings and compete to create perfect worlds with the ideal conditions for wildlife to flourish. In this very unique game, each player’s board is a 12-sided 3-dimensional planet core. Throughout 12 turns, select landscape tiles representing oceans, deserts, mountains or frozen lands, and arrange them on your planet to create the best ecosystems. Win animal cards while fulfilling your own “natural habitat objective and create the most populated planet in the universe. Skills: Strategy Check out this video review by The Dice Tower!

Once Upon a Castle Ages 8&up, 2-4 players

Roll the best resources, strategically position them on your board to draw your castle with their residents, and earn points. Use the outlined castle on your pad, or play on your artistic abilities to draw, color, and decorate as you wish! The Great Architect version adds complexity to the game with visitors and their special powers. This charming roll-and-write game keeps players engaged planning the collection of resources and doodling their prestigious castle one piece at a time! Skills: Strategy | Creativity Check out this video review by The Dice Tower!

Slide Quest Ages 7&up, 2-4 players

The kingdom is in total chaos! Work together to guide this brave rolling knight through 20 adventures filled with twists and traps. Players each hold on to a lever and guide the moving platform in all directions, sliding the knight to follow the right paths while beating obstacles. As challenges become more difficult, hold on to your lives to make it to the highest level and win! Slide Quest turned a video game concept into a board game where dexterity and cooperation are the keys to success. Skills: Cooperation | Fine Motor | Focus & Attention Check out this video review by The Dice Tower! How to Play!

The perfect gifts to give to your little ones to help them explore their creative and motor skills through fun challenges!

Fishing Day Ages 5&up, 2-4 players

It’s too cold out to go fishing but luckily we have the perfect solution for your adventurers here! Pick up your lucky fishing line and head to the pond for a crazy game of fishing. Follow the card at play and use your line to catch the correct objects out of the water before the yellow duck makes it out. Fishing day is a clever race made to help your little angler work on their color and shape recognition, deduction, and counting! Skills: Fine Motor | Focus & Attention | Social Play Check out this review by The Dice Tower!

Pengoloo Ages 4&up, 2-4 players

A Blue Orange classic! This wooden game has been delighting little ones for the past 12 years, who wouldn’t be excited by a fun south pole eggs-pedition! Each turn, players roll the colored dice and look under 2 penguins for eggs that match the colors on the face of each die. Guess correctly and keep the penguin on your iceberg. Collect 6 penguins to win! Skills: Memory | Social Play Check out this video review by Marbles the Game Store!

Kitty Bitty Ages 4&up, 2-4 players

It’s nap time for the itty bitty kitties, but they just want to play! Help them jump, bat the yarn balls around, and race to the basket without catching a look from the watchful eyes of the mommy cats. Players must remember which mommy cat eyes will catch the kittens so that the fun never stops in this adorable memory game. Skills: Memory | Social Play Check out this video review by The Dice Tower!

Looking for a stellar gift to put in the stockings? Look no further! 

For the youngest in the family, we recommend Dog Rush! Ages 6&up, 2-6 players

It’s dog walking time in park. Oh wait! A reindeer passes by and all the dogs escape their owners to run after him getting their leashes tangled up. Quick! Find the end of the leash corresponding to the dog that was chosen at the beginning of the round, pull it from the messy entanglement, and win a treat for your furry friend! This unique party game will keep everybody’s attention at play! Skills: Visual Perception | Focus & Attention Check out this video review by HeyThatsMike!

For ages six and older, Oh My Gold! Sprint! Who did it? Are our top 3 favorites!

Oh my Gold! Ages 6&up, 2-4 players

Are you ready to embark on a lively treasure hunt? Roll the luck keys to open treasure to roll again… you only get one second chance! This quick push-your-luck dice game requires the right decision to be made at the right time! Skills: Focus & Attention How to Play!

Sprint! Ages 8&up, 2-4 players

You are a tenacious turtle racing against a fearless rabbit… Do you stand a chance? Yes! Guess the correct number of cards to take from the pile and the more precise you are, the further you will go on the track. If your guess is way off, the rabbit will speed through to the finish line! Skills: Visual Perception | Math | Cooperation Check out this video review from HeyThatsMike!

Who Did It? Ages 6&up, 3-6 players

The #1 card game about #2! In this hilarious game, race to get rid of all your cards to avoid the blame of owning the animal that pooped. Each game is as funny as it is fast; quickly find your card, be the first to throw it down, and then blame someone else’s pet! Skills: Social Play | Memory Check out this video review by Lucky Penny Shop! How to play!

For all ages, TopiCubes is sure to be a hit! Ages 7&up, 2-6 players

In this fun word game, players roll 10 dice, 5 with a letter, and 5 with an illustrated topic, and race to find matching words. A winning matching word must start with one of the letters showing on a dice, and must belong to one of the categories showing on a dice of a different color. With topics like celebrities, TV shows, articles of clothing, “something square”, mammals, and more, this game is sure to entertain your creative mind and guarantee bursts of laughter! Skills: Speech & Language | Creativity | Social Play How to play!

Sherlock Express and Dragon’s Cave provide lots of fun for the ones in the family that enjoy adventuring with strategy, logic, and quick thinking!

Sherlock Express Ages 7&up, 2-6 players

Help Sherlock find Moriarty’s accomplice! Each turn, observe the 6 suspects, and as alibis get placed down on the table, use your deductive skills to expose the culprit first and win the round! If none of the suspects are guilty, then Sherlock will finally catch his sworn enemy Moriarty. Sherlock Express is a fast game of deduction where everyone is a suspect… until proven innocent! Skills: Visual Perception | Processing Speed | Logic Check out this video review by The Dice Tower! How to Play!

Dragon’s Cave Ages 7&up, 2-4 players

Lured by a precious treasure, you are brave dwarves venturing into the dragon’s cave, gathering gold coins on your way! Pick each step carefully! If the dragon predicts your next move on the path, you will move backward and risk losing the coins you haven’t saved in your treasure chest. Bluff your way through the whimsical cave to strike it rich! Skills: Focus & Attention | Strategy | Social Play Check out this video review by The Dice Tower!

To take a look at all of our games, please visit our website: www.blueorangegames.com. Happy Holidays from all of us at Blue Orange!