Meet Dan Klitsner Toy Designer
BY LOU FANCHER
Dan Klitsner grew up Hot Wheeling on the streets of Walnut Creek, and after he founded San Francisco–based toy invention and licensing company Kid Group, the playtime never stopped. His Bop It game, released in 1996, continues to be one of the hottest interactive toys in the industry, and he’ll be announcing a new game at the 2013 Toy Fair. Unfortunately, we couldn’t twist, push, pull, or bop the secret out of him.
Q: Who does the Bop It voice?
A: It’s an actor named “Buddy.” The wrong move sound is based on Homer Simpson’s “D’oh,” and it’s intended to empathize with you instead of chastising you.
Q: Favorite games as a kid?
A: A stupid card game called Spoons because it was fast and all about silliness. KerPlunk was another because it was 3-D. And 20 Questions is still a game I love because you don’t need game parts or cards, and even little kids can participate.
Q: What’s the secret to game making?
A: The “great idea” is a small part of it. At best, one in 10 ideas will have interest from a toy company. Out of that, one in 10 will get licensed. Out of that, one in 10 will make money. It takes passion and work.
Q: What keeps you coming back?
A: I want to connect to people through games. It’s not about being young: Being old and playful is almost as good as being young. It’s been a successful day when I can’t wait to play the thing we’ve just invented.
Q: How do you know a game is good?
A: Watch the kid, not the toy. A good game or toy animates the person, not the other way around.