Hi Folks! My name is John Hinnen. I'm a toy designer from Peoria, Illinois and the founder of The Bandit Ball Project. It's a grass roots start up that will sell our product, the "Bandit Ball", beginning next spring. We call it a "project" because it took 30 years to get to this point!
So how is a 60-year-old Grandpa crazy enough to launch a toy company at this young age? I thought up the idea for a shape changing ball way back in the 1980's. What took so long to get it to market? I'm hoping you can help me figure that out. The story spans several decades and most of what follows is true.
To begin with, I have to thank God for keeping me in the game. He never gave up on me! The present day story of the Bandit Ball will begin soon. It's a community effort and very exciting!.
But first a little history...
I am writing this post on August 21, 2017.... the day of the total eclipse. The photo on the left is original and was taken by our neighbor, Bekah Smith. Two spheres... sun and moon ... coming together to fascinate the world! People have asked where the idea for the Bandit Ball came from. It is essentially a sphere as well, and is patterned after the longitudinal lines of the earth.
Here is the first sketch I did of the idea. Two spheres coming together. Note the date at the top of the page: 1986.
I grew up in the 1960's. It was then l learned that kids have an inherent, instinctive curiosity. They marvel at life and its everyday surprises. I was no different. Definitely not the boy inventor type, I was more of a creative jokester. I enjoyed imaginative adventures with the many kids on our street.
With two young sisters to entertain, I once turned a basement room into the surface of the moon. The space ship that took us there was crafted from the controls of an old train set. The shelves on the wall behind were where my sisters and other kids slept in "suspended animation." Chairs, buckets and even a rocking horse were placed under a big piece of carpet to create the lunar landscape. Fluorescent stars were painted on the walls. The room was only about 10’ x 12’, but it worked. It was magical. We were kids!
My family was lucky to have a large backyard. We turned anything we could find into toys. We played all kinds of sports. We entertained ourselves with simple stuff that had no screens or connections to anything other than our imaginations. Sisters and me ... in from backyard football ... around 1968.
One story to share of “collective inventiveness” was when a bunch of neighborhood families had gotten new appliances at around the same time. We turned the huge cardboard boxes these came in into a rather large fortress in our backyard. Several doors in and out were crafted, along with windows and a couple of hatches on top.
What we did next was rather odd looking back on it, but memorable! My house had a long backyard, surrounded by tall trees with a creek at the far end. At dusk we had noticed that bats would swoop down and around us as we played. Just bats looking for bugs at twilight. But, no… we had a fort! So we screeched at them. High pitched, shrill screeches of young boys and girls at our imagined adversaries. What could possibly happen? The bats, attracted to the screeching, would dive at us.
The goal was to quickly get into the fort through any cut out we could find. We were protected inside. Sometimes the poor furry fellas even hit the cardboard. Safe to say this drove our parents batty. Just the neighborhood kids having crazy, creative fun!
Fast forward to today... backyards, parks, beaches ... anywhere outdoors. Though we may have phones to connect us, the simple pleasures remain!
From the Bandit Ball Video Shoot . . . . . . July 30, 2017