C2C Studios

Q&A: Patch Products Becomes PlayMonster

BobWannThe Toy Book catches up with Bob Wann, CEO of PlayMonster.

Patch Products is now PlayMonster! What’s the story behind the new name?

The name was changed to PlayMonster to better represent the diversity and quality of the company’s product line, which is a reflection of our mission and values. We started the process several months ago with motivation to simply update and evolve our logo, but as we researched and examined the changing marketplace, we saw an opportunity to create a playful new brand name that better expresses our belief in the power of play and that play is not only about fun, but also about making a difference in people’s lives.

The new name also better reflects that we are champions of play, a belief and attitude shared by all of our employees—from the management team to sales people to product creators.


How has PlayMonster evolved over the past 30 years?

PlayMonster was founded as Patch Products in 1985 and named for co-founders and brothers Fran and Bryce Patch. The company started more than 30 years ago with children’s puzzles, but has since grown into one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of award-winning games and toys that enrich the lives of the young and the young at heart. The company has grown tremendously over the past five years alone, because we’ve expanded from being a games-only company into a multi-category toy and game company developing play for all ages, with our infant toy line Mirari, all the way to our best-selling games such as The Game of THINGS… for adults. With this variety of products, we’re now shipping millions of units of toy and game products per year, three times as many as we did five years ago. We wholeheartedly believe in bringing high-quality play to people of all ages, and will continue to do so under the PlayMonster name.

PlayMonster has experienced rapid growth over the past few years, and is now a top 30 toy company. To what do you attribute this growth, and how do you plan to maintain it?

We’ve continued to be picky about the games we create and take under our brand. We only want to produce quality products that have timeless play, not a toy or game that’s frivolous, or some short-term fad that will not have long-term appeal. A good example of this is our popular party game 5 Second Rule. We first started working on it seven years ago, and today it’s even more popular than it was when it first launched. It is still a top seller because of the fun interaction it creates. Ellen DeGeneres enjoys it so much that she frequently plays the game on her show, and the interaction between her and her guests is hilarious. In the same way we’re picky about specific ideas, we’re also careful in the acquisitions we make. We look for long-lasting play value, often with a point of difference that makes it special, and that’s what we found with our most recent acquisition of Roominate.

What inspired the acquisition of Roominate? How will this acquisition impact PlayMonster?

With the acquisition of Roominate, a line of toys designed to open up possibilities for kids by showing them that creativity and engineering are fun, PlayMonster expands into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category.

STEM is one of the fastest-growing categories in the toy industry today. What makes Roominate different is that not only do parents like it because it delivers on the principles of STEM, but kids love it because it’s so much fun they want to play with it over and over again. The founders of Roominate did a fantastic job of designing this line with the help of kids so that the fun is new every time. What good is a STEM toy if it’s not fun and kids don’t want to use it, right?


In an age where kids are spending more time with technology at younger ages, how are you helping kids and families spend more time playing together?

We make fun games and toys that promote interaction and quality time by playing with friends and family. We are champions of play because play brings people together with laugh-out-loud fun, and that’s important in today’s high-pressure world. We offer a fun way to escape stress and “screen time”and consumers clearly seem to be responding to that, as evidenced by not only by our increasing sales, but also by all of the awards and accolades our products have received recently. In the last six years alone we have had eight TOTY (Toy Industry Toy of the Year) award finalists across multiple categories—that’s a huge accomplishment for us, as well as a great honor.

What are your future plans and expectations?

We expect to continue to achieve high growth as PlayMonster by continuing our momentum and building on what’s been successful for us, and so far that’s two very essential things: The first is providing great play for all ages, not just for kids or adults or infants, but for everyone. The second is providing high-quality play that stands the test of time and offers a remarkable play experience, not games or toys that will only hold interest for a few days. These two ingredients, plus scaling up our marketing and advertising on digital media and TV, will be our key to continued growth. Last year we promoted one item, Chrono Bomb, on TV, and this year we plan to promote several more, including our popular kids’ game Yeti in My Spaghetti. So we’re definitely Yeti—oops, I mean ready—for an exciting new year!

BREAKING: Patch Enters STEM Category with Acquisition of Roominate

6de77f60-394a-44e0-97da-1e5bbd023cb7Patch Products expands from puzzles, toys, and games into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) category with the acquisition of Roominate. STEM has become a prominent topic within the toy industry, as it builds and supports education through play. [Read more...]

Roominate Releases #LetGirlsBuild Video

RoominateCoinciding with National Take Your Daughter to Work Day, Roominate is launching a video encouraging young girls to become whatever they want when they grow up.

[Read more...]

WIT Presents Awards to Women Leaders at Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Dinner

WIT.logoWomen leaders were honored by more than 500 industry executives at the 11th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) Awards Dinner, which took place on Sunday night. Hosted by WIT, and coinciding with the North American International Toy Fair in New York City, the gala awarded winners from more than 40 distinguished nominees from around the world. WIT also presented Special Honoree Awards to executives from Sesame Workshop, amazon.com, and Disney Consumer Products. [Read more...]

Forbes Names Alice Brooks to Fourth Annual 30 Under 30 List

Jan9.RoominateAlice Brooks, co-founder of Roominate, was named to the list of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the manufacturing category. Brooks represents the only toy company in this category and was selected by a panel of judges, including Ted Duclos, Jenny Lawton, and John Nottingham.

While the 26-year-old got her masters in engineering at Stanford University, she started Roominate, which makes building toys for girls. Parts of the toy can be wired together to make windmills, merry-go-rounds, and elevators. The company hopes to inspire women to go into engineering and science. Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner invested $500,000 to share a 5 percent stake in the business when it appeared on the ABC show, Shark Tank. 

Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Roominate Creators Jump into the Shark Tank on September 26

Roominate.logoThe founders of the toy line, Roominate, will pitch their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-inspired product line on this Friday’s season premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Roominate is a line of wired building systems designed for young girls to promote creativity while designing their own structures with circuits, modular pieces, and universal joints.

COMMENTARY: World Maker Faire Is Where D-I-Y Meets T-O-Y-S!

MakerFaire,crowdshot,littleBitsThis past weekend, under terrific late-summer weather, the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was the site of this year’s World Maker Faire. The massive, two-day-long science fair/state fair drew large crowds of hobbyists, educators, tech enthusiasts, and more. The exhibitors consisted of a wide range of crafty and tech-savvy folks working in a variety of medium—and they included quite a few toy companies.

Given that innovation and education are among the underlying principles of World Maker Faire—not to mention the larger “maker movement” as a whole—it wasn’t surprising to find many toys aimed at fostering intellectual curiosity in kids. It would take too much space to list them all, but here are three that struck my fancy. Each encourages learning in ways that are hands-on and inventive.

SparkleLabsSparkle Labs: The New York City-based company’s mission is to make science and engineering as approachable as possible. To that end, its Papertronics – Lunar Modules is an origami kit with cute designs on paper, to go with simple electronics that teach the basics of LED circuitry. Suitable for kids ages 8 and up, each kit includes all the materials necessary for three working lanterns: Spaceboy, Alien Girl, and Tabula Rasa. [Read more...]