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July 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 7
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Rebuilt Griddly Games Sports Strategy and Fun

Company Thrives on Revision and Listening Ears


“When you stop listening, you make really expensive mistakes.”
Named after the world grid, Griddly Games makes sports-themed games that feature diverse, hand-painted characters. Reisa Schwartzman, now owner and president, took over the bankrupt company in December 2006 and, with Penny Osborn, director of operations, revamped the business. The two recently told TDmonthly Magazine about their new game, Wise Alec, and how they turned the business around.

DEFINING THE LINE

Our biggest mistake was not researching, not asking questions, and taking things at face value. We took over a failing company and were fed wrong information, so we thought we knew stuff we didn’t.

People didn’t know if Griddly was a sports game or like Monopoly. We learned to make it clear that we make strategy and challenge games, not sports games.

ENVISIONING WITH OPEN EARS

We had people play the games and got their advice. When you stop listening, you make really expensive mistakes.

We tweaked our packaging so our products are easier to sell. On the box, we moved the name of the game up to the top third, listed the play time and put examples of the cards on the sides. The longer customers hold onto a product, the more likely they will purchase it.

Mary Couzin, founder of Discover Games, is an invaluable resource. She goes to shows and, for a reasonable fee, will show your game in her group of inventors who share their knowledge.

MAKING OVERSEAS, MARKETING AT HOME

We manufacture in China to get the price points people are looking for, and use a quality-control company. We found manufacturers through previous contacts and references. The company we use was exhibiting at the New York Toy Fair, and we took that opportunity to foster our relationship.

Our marketing consists of making contacts with people and getting our name out through newsletters and websites. There’s no need to do a lot of ads, but PR is good. Trade shows are worth your time because they present an opportunity for people to touch and feel the games.

We’re building a team of independent sales reps. We’re also working on getting distributors in the United States and Canada. Sales are up almost 300 percent from last year.

We’ve raised thousands of dollars through Kids Playing for Kids, in which kids play our game for a minimal charge and the money goes to a children’s charity.
Changes to Wise Alec after suggestions at Toy Fair:

- Added timer
- Used fewer true/false questions to reduce guessing and promote retention
- Changed age range from 6+ to 8+ to 6+ — parents buy "grow into” items
- Used clearer, more marketable description on back on box



MANUFACTURING WISDOM

We developed Wise Alec to broaden our audience. We asked educators what they were looking for and asked retailers what kinds of products sell, with the idea of making their jobs easier.

We wanted a game that young and old could play together — one that didn’t make the players who lose feel like idiots. In the game, you might get a Wise Alec card worth two points if, say, you ate all your fruits and vegetables that day. You lose points if you do something like burp in public.

The point of Wise Alec is to instill good manners, activity and a healthy lifestyle — with a whole lot of fun.

We put in $15,000 of our own money into research and development, fact checking and the prototype. Wise Alec debuted at Toy Fair 2008 and the response was overwhelming. We wanted to make sure we did it right the first time, so we listened to suggestions and made changes [see sidebar] before GAMA in April.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Do your homework, attend Toy Fair, walk around, talk, listen, attend seminars, and get many points of view before you go into production. Do it right the first time — before you spend your money.

See of sampling of Griddly Games’ products below:




Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
General Games
Board Games



Wise Alec is the new highly interactive party and family fun game from Griddly Games. The game is entertaining as well as educational and is tailor-made for family game nights. Wise Alec is filled with challenging questions for the young and old. This stimulating trivia game takes you back to everything you learned in grade school. With over 1,000 questions covering a wide range of interesting topics like history, science and spelling, this game is guaranteed to entertain time and time again. Each card features both easy and hard questions – great for leveling the playing field between big and little kids. The second edition of Wise Alec features updated questions, new packaging and a new game board.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18158      (added 3/27/2008)
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AD


MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 842226000392
Launch Date: January 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Educational
Board Games



Officially licensed by NASCAR, this game is part of a distinctive and innovative line of sports-themed games. Dice-rolling and sports-related challenges combine with strategy, alliances and a bit of luck to make these games action-packed from the first roll of the dice to the final frenzied seconds. The game is fun, easy to learn and quick to play. This product is a spring 2007 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award winner. Launch date: January 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13758      (added 6/27/2007)
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AD




If you think you can bend ‘em like Beckham give this game a try. Compete in dice challenges and soccer ball challenges to battle your way to victory. Use your poker face to keep your Keeper Cards a secret until the time is right to slam them down and change the game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13565      (added 6/22/2007)
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AD


Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $49.95
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 87379400251
Launch Date: June 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Educational
Board Games



Griddly Headz Baseball Game will hit a home run with any family. Dice rolling and sports-related challenges combined with strategy, alliances and a bit of luck make these games action-packed from the first roll of the dice to the final frenzied seconds. The game's strong and sturdy construction will make it last from one generation to the next. This game received a Dr. Toy Award for Best Products for Summer 2008. And the deluxe version is a 2007 iParenting Media Award winner. Launch date: June 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13563      (added 6/22/2007)
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AD


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Elizabeth GreenspanWriter's Bio: Elizabeth Greenspan edits and writes for trade and technical publications. She has interviewed and collaborated with some of the top practitioners in their fields. She lives in Philadelphia and travels extensively for her work. Read more articles by this author

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