Hey Cape Breton ...
It's Mathew Georghiou here and I want to share my invention story with you in case it might help you take the next step on your own path of inventing.
Hot Wheels is the most popular toy in the world 🚗
It's a great gift 🎁 — and this story is why I recently invented a Hot Wheels accessory that is now available for purchase.
Created 50 years ago, Mattel now sells nearly $1 billion worth of Hot Wheels every year.
Here are examples of Hot Wheels cars, tracks, and sets made by Mattel.
We seem to call these cars "dinkies" here in Cape Breton (and perhaps elsewhere).
The orange tracks can be connected together to create various configurations.
One of my earliest memories I have growing up was playing with dinkies.
When I was 5 years old, I suddenly fell into a coma and was rushed to what I believe was the IWK in Halifax.
I spent a few weeks in the hospital recovering and my mom would visit me every day with a new dinky. So I ended up with a good collection by the time I returned home.
That collection was my son Nico's first introduction to toy cars.
Nico loves Hot Wheels and asks me to build him an epic track every day (for years now).
This is him in the photo below — some of you may know Nico from school or the many events he participates in.
We are always building unique race tracks for his cars.
If you've ever attended a Highlanders basketball game, you may have seen one of these Hot Wheels tracks that we created for the fans (it's made out of vinyl soffit if you want to make one yourself, super easy).
So I suspect that he will always love playing with Hot Wheels.
Which means I will be playing Hot Wheels for the rest of my life (which I hope is a long time) 👴
But there is one problem with Hot Wheels.
The problem is that you have to prop up the tracks on boxes and furniture and often have to fix everything in place with tape 🔨✂
And if you don't get the gradient of all the track pieces just right, the cars fly off the track 💨
It can take a lot of effort to create a fun track and you end up spending more time adjusting the track than actually playing 🤷♂️
And then you have to take it all down because you want your living room back 🏠
And (for me) do it all again the next day when my son asks for another epic track 🙂
For years I searched to find a solution, but couldn't find anything.
So, I thought of a possible solution and designed it using a super-simple (and free) 3D program called Tinkercad.
Then my coworker, Mannie Simms, 3D printed my first couple of prototypes.
I needed stronger materials for the 3D printing so I went to our local Makerspace at the Navigate Startup House in Sydney and refined the design and 3D printed many new prototypes using the high-end 3D printers available there.
Here's a picture of a few of them ...
A few dozen prototypes later, and I had the solution in hand — here is what it looks like:
It worked much, much better than I expected.
But the 3D printed prototypes were not strong enough to fully use or sell.
I realized I would have to get some properly manufactured with an injection mold to give this a go.
But it's not economical to manufacture a few items like this — you have to do a run of several thousand.
I decided that this solution was too good to keep to myself.
I want to make Hot Wheels more fun for everyone.
And that meant starting (another) new business to make it happen.
So, TrackJack was born.
It's like scaffolding — a track-building system for Hot Wheels.
The video below show TrackJack in action.
Once I decided to take the next step with this invention, I researched plastics manufacturing to determine how and where I should get it manufactured and what material to use (there are many types of plastics).
China is perhaps the only economical location to manufacture a low-cost plastics toy and keep it affordable for customers.
So, I first filed a Provisional Patent Application to gain some small level of protection (although patent protection is very complicated). I also filed trademark applications for the name TrackJack. Thanks to local company Aramax IP for helping with this process.
And then I used Alibaba.com to research plastics manufacturers and invite them to bid on my project. I then selected a manufacturer and had them make it.
I encountered a number of shipping delays due to Covid, and shipping costs are far too high these days. But the shipment eventually arrived here in Cape Breton and we (my daughter Maria mostly) boxed them up using boxes we had printed here in Nova Scotia.
The product logo and packaging were designed here locally by Vibe Creative Group — they did a great job.
My next step is to create a lot of short videos to show TrackJack in action and perhaps explore the possibility of licensing the product to a toy company.
So, that's my story of how I invented a new toy. I hope this may help you do the same.
Thanks to everyone at our local Makerspace and Innovacorp for their help. Check out the video tour of the Makerspace below.
TrackJack in Action
Tour of the Makerspace in Sydney
- Located in the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation in the north end of Sydney.
- Adults can receive free training and purchase a day pass or monthly membership to use the space.
- Day passes are a unique gift idea.
- Open 7 days a week
- The video tour below is a bit old now and there is much more new equipment available.
- Find out more at NSPmakerspace.com