by Brian Turtle (Endless Games) | 18 Jun 2021
The Bloom Report
What exactly do you do in the industry?
I am the National Sales Manager for Endless games in Matawan, New Jersey. That said, we are a small company so I get to work in production, product development, marketing, and other areas outside of sales.
What is your claim to fame in the industry? Does it have anything to do with this story about you being pals with Kevin Bacon? How did you meet him?
I guess you could say my “Claim to Fame” would be that I was one of the guys who created the game The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It was a fun little parlor game from the mid-nineties so I understand if you don’t know it. It was kind of a “stupid human trick” that got my college pals and I on shows like The Jon Stewart Show and Howard Stern which eventually led to a best-selling paperback and then a board game – which was our first product here at Endless Games!
So anyway, that is how I got to know Kevin Bacon; by making a game about him! We originally met on the Jon Stewart show where he was on to promote his 1995 film “Murder in the First”. We were on to demonstrate the method by which any actor in Hollywood could be connected to him. So, at first (as he has now had to discuss more than he ever thought he would have), he thought we were making fun of him. Thankfully he found this was not the case. We were just a couple of college guys who watched movies like JFK and Footloose and found that in 1994, Kevin Bacon was everywhere. As we described it in the game, he was “the center of the entertainment universe”. Whatever the case, I’m eternally grateful. Somebody with a bigger ego might have told us to go pound sand, but Kevin warmed up to the game and even wound up writing a rather hilarious prologue to that best-selling paperback (that’s now sadly out of print).
I don’t know if we’re “friends”, but he’s been cool enough to have my wife and I backstage at a Bacon Brothers concert or two. And then there’s the bizarre night where Matt Nuccio and I were backstage after Kevin’s one-man Broadway show, but you’ll have to buy us both a beer to hear that one!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
We created the Six Degrees while still in college in 1994. After graduation in ’95 I never thought I’d hear about it again, but it never went away! By ’96 two industry vets who had worked on Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary were putting a new company together called Endless Games. Those two men: Mike Gasser and Kevin McNulty saw our little college drinking game as something they could build their company around and they were nice enough to let me hang around for the ride for the last 24 years!
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a great new buying and selling “light strategy” party game called Hip Town, and our “Obstacle Course in a Box” game that my kids helped to inspire.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Gosh, who’s not worried about the unending shipping woes we’ve been encountering for the past 12-15 months? Delays and price increases affect everyone, so that’s a major concern. But at the same time, I’m always excited about new and innovative products. Its always inspiring to know there are still tons of great ideas out there that don’t require batteries or other high-tech whistles and bells. Yes, I’m more of an “unplugged” kind of guy!
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Make sure the last item you pitch is something you are just as enthused about as your first! Its okay to have a “lead dog on the sled” so--to-speak, but try to make EVERYTHING you present a show-stopper. Just because an item is 4th or 5th on your list of what you think a given company will like, you never know what might click. Oh, and be open minded! Don’t resist slight changes or some tinkering with your concept. Its your baby and we get that, but sometimes we might think it might look cuter (or sell more units) in a different outfit.