Lite Poppers are a new series of neon-hued transparent building blocks that are infused with lights that have the ability to flash. A unique built-in groove pattern enables builders to manipulate the blocks into various shapes from numerous directions. Recently, inventor Jon Capriola recently discussed the process of developing these toys and his hopes for their future.
Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: How did you get the idea for this product?
Jon Capriola (JC): We learned of Lite Poppers around early December 2015 from a man from Denmark named Arne who was a long-time engineer at LEGO. He flew in and showed the concept of one shape and even had patents issued. One year later we developed bases and other shapes to make models. We also filmed tons of kids to see which parts we should keep and which ones we should discard. Through trial and error, we learned that Lite Poppers is both a girl and boy construction toy that embraces and builds self-confidence.
MM: The majority of the pieces are transparent neon. What is it about these color hues that most attracts kids?
JC: Kids love colors. Just walk down any retail toy isle and it will be very prevalent. We wanted Lite Poppers to not only be unique in functionality also with colors and this is why we stuck to six basic colors and made them extremely bright! They are entirely gender-neutral as well.
MM: How did you bring this product to market?
JC: Word of mouth is the best way. It means you are delivering a great out of box experience so other people tell others about their experience. We believe in “one customer at a time” approach with retailers reselling our items and also with end users purchasing/playing with our items. We now are using DevinandGavinTUBE as a vehicle to teach kids business and how to give back to society. Potential customers can see our journey and the issues we face. They can also see two extremely transparent kids grow the brand. Devin and Gavin have great ideas and for eight-year-olds and they really get into the design and features of Lite Poppers.
MM: What has public response been like so far?
JC: People love the fact they are round and like a 3D puzzle. We have tested the item with over 300 kids and what we found is the malleability of the parts is what kids love. They also love that its tricky at first but then it becomes very easy once they continue to play. Everyone loves to shoot the poppers and everyone likes the ability to change the character’s expressions easily.
MM: What was it like to exhibit at the big Toy Fair in NYC?
JC: It was the first time Devin and Gavin got to experience a toy fair of this size. The overall press loved the colors and the play pattern but, most importantly, they loved the poppers that shoot and our characters. We love seeing retailers and press trying the products in front of us… facial gestures tell us a lot! Specifically smiles!
MM: Have you made any other toys? Do you plan to?
JC: Yes, we have 27 sku’s ready to be released, however, we only released nine of them. We want to see how people react to prices and the item then adjust from listening to our customers. We even tooled some shapes not being used yet so we can move fast as the brand gains acceptance. We dream of going into animation with our characters and robotics tied to app controlled features with the Lite Popppers product. This will take the right global partnerships to be successful
MM: What has been the most rewarding part of working on this brand?
JC: Seeing kids accept the Lite Poppers brand with no same old same old licensing names all over it. We are tired of the toy brand slapping and read an article recently that 70% of all toys sold are branded… it’s sad that the press tends to give all the attention to these toys because they have some special brand name when there is some real innovation being developed for kids to learn and play. Lite Poppers covers all the basic STEM learning attributes and the play value is years rather than most toys being days/weeks or months…
MM: What are your career aspirations over the next ten years?
JC: We strive to find the right partners to grow the brand long term globally and correctly. We need the right financial partners so we can scale and we are looking for the smart toy companies that see the value of making innovation first. Kids do not love being told what to do. Challenging kids by also allowing kids the freedom to do what they want is the most important attribute of gaining self-confidence as you grow. Lite Poppers wants to continue on all new releases to stand out from other toys and play patterns.
MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the toy or game design industry?
JC: Get well funded with a well thought out plan then build and item that is unique to the toy industry. If you set off to build a doll then ask yourself what is your specific value proposition over the other dolls in the toy space. For Lite Poppers, it’s not just another construction toy… its round and is more like a 3D puzzle than a construction toy. It makes us super unique in the space. The experience is easily shareable amount friends! Lite Poppers is the only construction toy that the characters are the same shapes as the parts the models are made from. USB rechargeable bases give it tech however so does the touch sensor and LED motion activation. No switches allow kids to not worry about costly battery replacement.
MM: Are you currently working on any projects that you would like to mention?
JC: We are focused on really social media and having YouTube and Instagram influencers help launch the brand with us. We want to build a community of kids sharing the value of our toy. We want to expand on this and take the customers on a journey of how we make the toy and how we give back to the community. It’s really a two-part experience. Having a great time and giving back to people in need is our main focal point. Slow and steady wins the race! Subscribe to DevinandGavinTUBE and see for yourself!