Guest Article: ASTRA from one inventor’s perspective

Unfortunately I didn’t get to go to ASTRA this year, but my inventor friend Mary Jo Reutter (read about her games HERE) did and she was nice enough to share what’s great about the ASTRA show from an inventor’s perspective.  Quick background for anyone who doesn’t know ASTRA stands for American Specialty Toy Retailing Association and they’re the ones behind Neighborhood Toy Store Day which is Nov. 12th this year.  The ASTRA show is held in June every year, but unlike Toy Fair the location of the show bounces around the country.  So without anymore boring chatter from me, I’ll let Mary Jo take over…

As an inventor, I appreciate companies that do something extra to promote my games. And I am more than happy to help!  It’s a win-win-win situation.  Win #1 — The exhibitor (publisher) wins because they have something special to draw people into their booth, giving added value to the attendee’s experience.  Win #2 — The store owner / buyer wins because they can get an understanding of the game, enabling them to better explain, or better yet demonstrate it to their customer. I’ve been told this always contributes to more sales.  Plus they now have an interesting story to tell to their customers; “I met the inventor of this game.” Win #3 — the inventor wins because a few more units may be sold. We can be certain that the game is being described correctly. That means it’s less likely to die on the vine.  It takes a village to get a product to market!

I’m really happy to see several companies recognizing the value of including the inventor in the marketing process. At the Educational Insights booth, besides myself playing Buck Buck Moose (with some very competitive buyers),  Dan Acuff showed his clever word game KaBAM, and Riley Wilkenson showed Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (a runnaway hit).  At the ThinkFun booth,  Joyce Johnson was demonstrating her new game Cartoon-It.  At Shains was Colleen McCarthy Evans showing her new game What She Said.  There were probably others as well,  and I certainly don’t mean to leave them out.  Most of all, the hard working self-published inventors, who are the champions of their games, understand the value of a good hands-on demo.

Perhaps the best part of the show is how nice everyone is! The store owners, the reps, the people manning the booths, it’s just a good vibe all around. So, from this inventor’s perspective it was worth the time to come out to demo a new game.  And I admit, I still giggle and blush when I’m asked to autograph the box!

Now for my wish. I wish ASTRA would find a way to extend Game Night. I had the fortune to demo the Fancy Nancy Fabulous Fashionista Game, which is being published by Briarpatch.  It was an exciting evening (even though I spent most of the evening placing little cardboard dresses in a cardboard armoire), there were some great games and great game companies there, but I know not everyone was able to get in. As in everyday life, it sure would be nice for everyone to play — playing a game makes every day better!

You can find out more about Mary Jo Reutter at her website:

You can find out more about ASTRA at their website:


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  1. Mary Couzin

    It was wonderful to see the energy inventors brought to the ASTRA show! I think many retailers are also starting to understand the benefit of having inventors as guests for inventor signings in their stores as well.

    Mary Couzin

  2. John MacDougall

    Thanks for attending ASTRA this year! It is great opportunity for stores to talk with you and get some insight on your creation. I know game night could be bigger from your perspective, but for me, it’s already a bit overwhelming!

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