by Leonard Clark | 05 Feb 2023
Biographies and Interviews
Getting caught up on life a bit this Sunday, doing product shot's for Pinto submissions, checking that UPCs match up and laying low while my business partner (and spouse), Lori wraps up taxes. Life has been a whirlwind with a startup, wrapping up a master's degree, kids in college and you lose track of people. Someone that I enjoyed throughly and lost track of was a toy industry friend and inventor, Leonard Clark.
This afternoon, I took some time to open the link to Mary Couzin's Bloom Report and noticed the Rest in Play section. Looking over the names of those that had passed and reading the reflections by family and friends, I was saddened to see that my industry friend had passed in 2019. Len was was a very prolific inventor and a mad scientist of sorts, well in Len's own words maybe "simple primate-caveman inventor" (extracted from an email exchange). Len's inventions were raw, clever and had that "thing" that you either got or didn't. He wasn't driven by trends, he was mechanical. He had studied sculpture in the late 1960's and early 1970's at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, and his roots in sculpture eeked out in his mechanical masterpieces that became toys for Spinmaster LLC, Mattel, Inc. and others.
I first met Len while working on the design team at Mattel for the Tyco R/C brand in the Mount Laurel office. Being invited on occassion by Richie Weintraub (pictured above with Len, myself and David Bowen) or Joseph Moll to witness some of Len's inventions, I was in awe of his mechanical solutions and on occassion, a little bit of being confounded by how do we mass produce it. His early concept mechanisms were more driven by the "works-like" more so than the "looks-like" and driven by being a natural student of physics and the arts. Many of his early works (and others!) would be an amazing exhibit in the Strong Museum or Hall of Inventors exhibit at Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc or The Toy Association at a future Toy Fair. I recall an air-powered, radio-controlled whirlybird that was flown in the atrium of the MML building - an early concept that had the simplicity of a Leonardo drawing in the flesh and Jules Verne fantasy in sight and sound. Marvelous.
For those that remember Len, know that he spoke his mind, was enthusiastic, and was a gem in the quarry that is the toy industry. He loved race cars, rockets and making things. He was someone that loved to talk on the phone and then would follow up with an email about how he enjoyed a call. I last reached out to Len in 2019 during the holidays and never heard back. The simple words of Len Clark in the Rest in Play section and nothing more. There is not much to find about him if you didn't know him, but I wanted to put down some memories and spend a bit of time reflecting on someone that I enjoyed knowing.
Rest in Play Len!
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