Sparking Play w/ Fun In Motion Toys Founders Kevin Daniels and Jimi Dennison
Today’s episode is a little bit about a shape shifting box named “Shashibo” and a lot about ADD + ADHD. Kevin Daniels is a South Floridian, born and raised in Miami, FL, attended High School and College in Palm Beach, and currently lives in Fort Lauderdale. He spent a lot of his youth surfing and skateboarding. He graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Marketing which he put to use in the Pharmaceutical industry where he had spent most of his working career in Sales and Sales Management until he left that career to focus 100% on Fun In Motion Toys, the business He and his business partner Jimi Dennison built over the past decade. Both Kevin and Jimi never really intended to build a toy company and were simply motivated by the mission of spreading the physical and mental benefits of Poi through the Spinballs product they developed. However, one thing led to another and here they are with several award winning products including the two time Toy of the Year finalist Shashibo. One thing that all of the Fun In Motion Toys products have in common are the bonus of having physical and mental benefits as well as being fun. Both Kevin and Jimi have found these products to help them cope with their own stresses including things like ADD/ADHD in their own lives. They are big believers in the power of play at any age and even enjoy activities like Juggling, Fire performance and going to concerts and music festivals including attending Burning Man.
Jimi graduated with a CS degree and met Kevin while working in South Florida. Together they took a hobby, poi, and created the business Spinballs to share the activity with the world. Since that time the company has added several products and Jimi relocated closer to where he grew up, outside of DC. Despite the distance they continue to push Fun In Motion Toys forward. Today we’re talking about one of their awesome products Shashibo, as well as how their product line is helping folks who are Neurodiverse- Enjoy!
***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***
In this episode Peter, Kevin Daniels & Jimi Dennison discuss:
1:20- Intro and welcome Kevin and Jimi!
2:24- Explain it in such a way that people understand why I’m so in love with your toy Shashibo
4:30- So how did you guys come up with the, see your, I know one of you or both of your ADHD?
6:52- At what point did your brain say: Hey, this would make a fun toy! How did it come to fruition?
9:40- Have you received feedback from people with a neurodiverse brain, ADD, tactile, things like that?
13:50- What do you look for when you say, hey that’s going to make a cool toy; we need this in our repertoire. Like, the Wandini looks pretty awesome too!
16:30- Is there a ton of demand for Shashibo right now?
17:27- On therapeutic toys. Interview Ref: More Play, Less Problems?? With Dr. Debbie Rhea
19:30- Thank you Kevin and Jimi! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via firstname.lastname@example.org or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials.
STAY HEALTHY – STAY SAFE – PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK.. until next time!
20:02- Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
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Hello everyone. My name is Peter Shankman. You are listening to Faster Than Normal. We believe that ADHD is a gift, not a curse and that all forms of neurodiversity are valid. We’re glad you’re here.
It is another episode coming to you live from my apartment because, well, it’s almost the end of 2020, and no one freaking goes anywhere anymore. We all just sit at home and stare at a computer, which I suppose is. Not much different than what we did a year ago. We just did it somewhere else. Now we’re here. This is everyone. Jerry Seinfeld, that a bit about that. Where, where, where, when you’re out, that’s out, everyone says, Oh, they went out. This is what they’re doing. So I guess this is where we are right now. Anyway. Good to be here.
We are talking to Kevin Daniels and Jimmy Dennison. They are the founders of Fun In Motion Toys, which is a really cool company I met them through an old friend; a guy named Barry Schwartz, who is my PR mentor all the way back in the day. Like we’re talking like late nineties here, early, early back in the day. But Kevin and Jimmy built a company called Fun In Motion. I found out about them because Barry, who knows that I am ADHD, he said, Peter, I’m sending you something. You’re going to love this. It’s called the Shashibo, which I just found out a few minutes ago. Uh, Oh, I’ll let I’ll let them tell you what it is, but it’s this really cool thing that I’ve been playing with them and literally can not put that out. It’s sitting right here on my desk. I’m not gonna play with it during the interview because you’ll hear it. It’ll it’ll, it’ll take all the noise and, and you’ll hear it. Anyway. Kevin and Jimmy welcome- glad to have you.
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
So explain first of all, what the sushi is and, and, and, and explain it in such a way that people understand why I’m so in love with this.
Okay, well, I’ll try and do that. And Jimmy can cut in, but, uh, Barry, by the way, who you mentioned actually is the man who did the Rubik’s cube. Oh, I love well aware. Yeah. So he launched a Rubik’s cube. He came to us at toy fair this year and he was like, I got to work with you guys. And we were like, yes, you do. And it’s been awesome. So basically think of a cube, but instead of trying to solve it, what this does is it opens up into over 70 geometric shapes. So it looks like a cube and you can open it up in a shapes, like an actual star where it has points six points. It can things we call the hive. It can create into a dodecahedron ball, which is the inverse of the complete outside of the cube and there’s all this geometric, it’s like, there’s a little bit of math. It’s, you know, people talk about STEAM and steam, right? Science, technology, engineering, art, math, and this has a little bit of all of that. It’s got the symmetry of art. We even have an artist series working with the godfather, or the father of digital art Laurence Gartel. He made some limited edition. He taught Andy Warhol had a new digital art. So that’s the kind of guy he’s, he’s serious. Um, so awesome Art symmetry. Then you have the math, which is the geometry. Uh, you also have the science of the magnets. There’s 36 rare earth magnets in each of these, which are small, strong magnets that allow it to hold its shape; otherwise it would just crumble. And then the other side benefit is you learn about polarity of the science of the magnets, because you can combine multiple Shashibo’s to create larger structures. So it becomes infinite. Um, and it’s really mind blowing when people it’s unfortunate in this medium, it’s all verbal, but it’s like when you see it visually, it really is stunning and mind blowing. I mean, that’s the common reaction is people can’t believe it. And, uh, you know, there is the, I said the structural part, so that’s almost like the engineering side. There isn’t so much technology. And in fact, that’s one of the benefits is it’s getting people off of their technology for a change to do something creative, to work together or by themselves. So we’re excited. It’s been great.
We’ll uh, we’ll put a couple of pictures and, or video if we can find it, um, into the, uh, Into the podcast. You’ll see it, uh, on the, on the show host on the show notes page, [PICTURE HERE] but, uh, yeah, it’s a phenomenal, phenomenal, uh, toy. I’ve been having a blast with it. Certainly a lot of fun. So how did you guys come up with the, see your, I know one of you or both of your ADHD?
Well, I mean, I guess we both have our own little things, but in, in my particular, it was just kind of funny how this happened because you had, I don’t think he had, we didn’t work together, come on this podcast because of it, but I have to say, and it’s not something I think about a lot, but I definitely have that adult ADD, ADHD. So when I was a kid, I even look back and I think it’s probably, I don’t keep up with the whole community of ADD ADHD, but I’m thinking there’s a common, uh, acceptance that. Decades ago. It wasn’t so known. And when I was the kid in school who threw the compass that stuck up into the ceiling of the classroom, going to the principal’s office, I have a feeling that was my add ADHD acting up. And later on in life, as I had careers, I was in the pharmaceutical industry as a sales rep. And I was going to mention this, but, you know, I had times where paperwork would definitely overwhelm me. I did go see somebody about it. And he prescribed Adderall and I did it for a little while. And then I felt like, you know what? I don’t know if it’s, like you said, it’s not necessarily a curse. Sometimes it’s a blessing. I feel like all the things I’ve accomplished in my life are probably fueled by me battling with my ADD ADHD. And I don’t know if I’d really want to change that I’m, I’m driven. I’m not as efficient as I could be, I stay up really late. But I get things done. So I’ve learned to work with it. And I feel like there are career paths out there for people who can actually harness this, uh, you know, this ability, it’s almost like a superpower, even though some people may see it as a negative, but I think there’s different ways to approach it. So I didn’t know this was going to come up, but here you go.
Well, the fact that you understand it, um, and that you understand, you know, how to take, how to use it to your advantage. Uh, you know, you mentioned that that the majority of your successes and things like that have to do with, uh, you know, your ADHD and that’s a theme that you hear, uh, and almost every single one of our guests, this is that, you know, once we realize, Hey, here’s our differences and we learn how to embrace them. You know, things got a lot better and, and, and, and our, our, our, our lights shown. Or shined as it were, they were able to, uh, to, you know, we were able to really come out of our shell and, and, and do the things that we were capable of doing.
Um, tell me about one of the things I found really interesting. Um, when you. Decide to create. And I just, this fascinates me, right? I don’t have, I have the design skills turnip. Right? I do not have any designs. So thank God. My, my daughter takes after her mother in that regard because I cannot, I couldn’t drive here and saved my life. And you know, I, I look at, uh, Sashibo and playing with it. How did you come up with something like that? What, what, what, at what point did your brain say, Hey, this would make a fun toy. Right? How did it come to fruition?
Yeah, I have to say it’s a little different than you might be suggesting. It’s, uh, I didn’t invent it. Um, but what we did do is we have a connection of friends and people just along the way that at one thing’s fallen into the, into place seat along the way, just as we met with Barry, as you mentioned, but. Uh, you know, Jimmy and I started over 10 years ago with a product called spin balls. That was our first toy. And it was just a ball on a string it’s Poi, if anybody knows it goes back hundreds of years, the Maori people of New Zealand. So there was nothing out there that was really affordable, accessible. It had led lights that w you know, the ones I had would break, they were expensive. So it kind of started us down this path because we love the physical, mental benefits of Poi, and that’s still a mission of ours, but as we got into it, one, two, our first toy fair. Just one thing led to another and we ended up with this other toy mosey. And then last year we launched a Sheba and Wandini and we have other products on the, in the future that we want to come up with ourselves, or we have, you know, connections with people. So Sheba specifically as an inventor, Andreas Hoenigschmid, he’s from Germany lives in California in Venice beach. She’s an artist mathematician. We just have a lot of things in common. And that’s how we met was through our, we do fire performance. Uh, we’ve gone to burning man. We’re in all kinds of weird stuff, you know? Um, but it’s just so happens to connect it. He was working on this and just didn’t have a way to get it out there and it fits so perfectly into what we were already doing. And I guess the rest is history, but it’s his invention and creation. He’s got even more things, uh, for the future that we’re going to work on.
My daughter is, is fascinated with it. Um, she brought it to school today and I’m curious to see if she actually makes it home with it because, uh, chances are, you know, every kid is going to kind of wanna play with it. We had a play date. She’s seven she’s, seven years old, seven and a half. She had a play date last week and, um, they were supposed to have a pool in my building and they sat, you know, thanks to COVID you have to make reservations now right. And if they’re five o’clock reservation, they were 30 minutes late to it because they sat. In, in my apartment that they would not stop playing with this then. And, uh, it was, you know, I’m like guys, cool. I’ve never had it. I’ve never had to convince my kid to go to the pool. But, um, I personally, I love it. 70 different shapes. Um, it’s a lot of fun. The fun is trying to get, get it back to the square that it starts at.
But, um, do you find that, have you gotten feedback from people, um, with a neuro-diverse brain. So ADD tactile, things like that, where they talk about it because I immediately saw. Uh, the benefit in it from my mind, just to keep it in my hands and have something to touch and to play with and to, you know, make shapes with, as I’m working, as I’m talking, as I’m doing whatever.
Yeah. Actually I want to, I want to get Jimmy in on the conversation, but if I can just start it, we’ve gotten numerous emails over the last several months. I mean, we had one that was like a 12 year old who said that she was in Northern California and was dealing with a lot of things, the anxiety, because of both the lockdown from the pandemic, and also the fact that there were wildfires in her, not from her home. So her and her kid, her, her and her brother and sisters were using the Shashi. No, I mean, they were just basically thanking us and saying how great it’s been for them as a way to deal with the stress. And I mean, that’s pretty powerful hearing it from a 12 year old and, uh, they wanted to, they were saving up money to get into another one. So we sent them one for free just for like, why not, you know, how can you not? And, and we were just thankful, but we’ve heard more and more of this anecdotally.
So I actually, my background, as I said, it was in pharmaceutical. So I have friends that are involved in clinical research. So I’ve heard everything anecdotally from use in autism, uh, ADHD, as well as, um, Alzheimer’s, I mean, we’ve actually heard and at the toy fair this year there were several physical therapists that deal with adults and, and, and, um, Alzheimer’s that have seen benefits. So all of our toys, it’s not strictly Shashibo, but that is our, our biggest best, but all of them have a little bit of a sensory therapy effect, which is why we’re actually looking to launch a fund emotion, health website, which would allow us to pinpoint that once we have more clinical data to support it right now it’s anecdotal. But I think it’s obvious in some ways, but if I could let me throw it to Jimmy, because he’s really involved in that and I wanted to let him chime in a bit. If you don’t mind.
Yeah, thanks, Kevin. Um, well I guess the, that you mean is the fund emotion, health website, and that’s a, a work in progress. Like he said, we were kind of gathering what anecdotal evidence there is to just maybe draw, um, a nice picture across all of our products and each one of them has a little bit of a different story. Uh, but specifically to the Shashibo, I think the one story that really hope to me and convince me that it was worthy of promoting the line, you know, we’re, we’re a toy company, so we’re primarily focused on promoting ourself as boys the whole time we’ve recognized that there’s a much bigger value in the type of play. And, and that’s a, that’s a big conversation, but. Um, running fund emotion, health as a, as a business was only, um, really apparent with the Shashibo or hearing. For instance, there was, uh, a lady working with a gentleman with Alzheimer’s. She described that, um, as his functioning declined and I guess this isn’t exactly the topic of add or ADHD, but in terms of therapeutic use, as its functioning declined. His hands use declined to the point of very stopped using, um, pencils. They couldn’t get him to engage with things in a useful way, putting them down. And after a couple of weeks of playing with the Shashibo, which is amazing unto itself that he didn’t put it down. Uh, he, he actually picked up a pencil again. So there’s just, I don’t know. I might not have realized the full depth of it when I first picked it up, but there’s a lot of people who have, and, um, it’s pretty awesome.
One of the interesting things I noticed looking on your website is you, you, it’s not just, I mean, there aren’t you, so glow toys, fidget toys, um, the glow toys actually look really cool. What happens? What are your, are your, um, what, how do I phrase this? What are your, uh, what do you look for when you say, Hey, that’s going to make a cool toy. Like, I mean, the, the, the, um, what am I looking at right here? The, uh, the Wandini looks pretty awesome. Right. And it seems like a lot of fun. What do you look for when you say, okay, this is, we need this in our repertoire.
Yeah. You know, some of the things we have or just things that existed, but just were not made available to the mainstream. So we’re into like a lot of like juggling Jimi and I juggle, we do all these, we get access and exposure to things that not everybody sees. So, you know, with spin balls, which is the Poi, that’s something that was more like, uh, you’d see at music festivals, there weren’t that many people who are really into it, but we saw the benefits for kids and all of that and we were like, we really want to make something. So that’s what we did is we created and we got patents on our design that made it so unique, but it’s not the point in the existed had been around for hundreds of years, like I said, so the wand actually comes from the dancing cane magic trick that had been around for a long, long time as well. But as far as doing it in an LED fashion and also collapsible where you can break it apart, this has never been done. So this was our motivation, but the one thing that also ties it all together is the cost and the price point, like we have different toys. Like our things are premium, more quality. We don’t just put out schlocky stuff like just to make money. It’s like, these are things that motivate us that we like playing with ourselves when we go to a fair, like toy fair, or spending the day, just playing with these enjoying demonstrating. Cause we enjoy doing it. And it’s awesome to see people’s reactions. So, you know, constantly we’re looking for things that fit that mold that we want to play with ourselves first off. And then we have to decide, is this something that makes sense? You know, just this weekend I had an epiphany that, you know, nobody’s making a, an affordable led, juggling ball, everything out there is either garbage and, and, and, you know, you get what you pay for, or they’re very expensive on the high end. So with our Poi, we can make a version of that simply and put it out there. Juggling is a big market so that these are there’s things that pop into my head, but we have like unique can interesting new toys, like Shashibo that nobody’s seen before. And we plan on continuing to add those.
I would definitely suggest that you guys are a, uh, I, there’s no question that you guys go to burning man. I can hear it in everything you say. I also think you guys would make great skydivers because there’s always someone at the drops zone spinning the goddamn fire. Always, always someone’s.. but very, very cool. Um, so the, the website is, uh, www.FunInMotionToys.com Right? I do know that the Shashibo was sold out currently on your site. So I’m assuming that by the time this airs, that will be, that will be rectified and there’ll be more. Is there, is there a massive demand for it right now?
Uh, I’d say so. It was, um, you know, we kind of expected it, but we’re really only now finally realizing the potential. I mean, we, we, we went into it realizing at first there was a lot of people who, you know, downed it, who didn’t realize, or didn’t. I see, like, why is this not $7? And that’s a common thing. This should be like all the other cheap cubes. Right. But they don’t get the fact that this is, you know, the, the, the magnets without them. It can’t, it wouldn’t exist. And the magnets are not cheap. In fact, our costs just went up, but we’re keeping our costs to the consumer the same, but our costs are fluctuating because rare magnets are kind of a commodity that are, you know, It’s not that they’re hard to find and that they’re limited, it’s just, it’s a misnomer, but there is definitely some fluctuation in the cost and, and it makes it a little bit challenging. So, um, anyway, I think I lost my train of thought here. You were asking about, uh,
Haha, a little ADD there. No, it’s, um, you know, the second you touch it, you feel that it’s not, it’s not just the cheap, uh, you know, it’s not just something you get in a, uh, in a jack in the box , you know, to think, but no, I’m very, very cool. So, so fundamental toys.com. I really appreciate you guys taking the time it’s we are just, just starting to learn, um, all the therapeutic, uh, possibilities that toys, um, allow for in, in add adult, add ADHD, uh, autism kids on the spectrum, uh, executive function. Y’know. we’re, we’re really starting to see more and more of that. We’ve had a couple of people on the, um, on the podcast, a couple of doctors who have, who have talked about, uh, the aspect of play and how we really don’t have enough of it in our lives, especially, uh, when we become adults, there was a, we had a, we had a scientist [Dr. Debbie Rhea interview] who did a study, um, in Texas where they, they increased school district, they increased, um, Uh, recess from 30 minutes a day to 90 minutes a day. And they saw a massive, massive drop in ADHD outbursts from boys and also a massive increase in girls paying attention of wanting to speak out in class. So we were just, just at the tip of it. So I think you guys are, I think you guys are doing something really cool and, uh, you’re in the right place at the right time. So we can definitely get you guys back on again. Uh, sometime the next six, six or seven months that we’ll see how, how you’re doing and what you’re doing next that makes I’m looking forward to that.
Yeah, we appreciate that, that’s great. One thing get dimension is that, you know, you’re asking about the success of it. So this is last year. It was up for toy of the year, which is like kind of the Oscars of the toy industry. So it’s a big deal. We were up against Mattel and Hasbro and all the big guys. Lego, et cetera. Um, we didn’t win, but we were a finalist which was pretty exciting. And then this year we’re up for toy of the year again. So, uh, the Artist Series is nominated. So we’re hoping to hopefully win. That would be a big deal for a smaller toy company like ourselves. But that gives you an example. I mean, it’s been recognized and that’s, you know, that’s awards, but then on the, you know, the other side, we just, I hate to promote Amazon, we do great on our website. Go to RunInMotionToys.com, but I’ll tell you what, we can’t even keep it in stock. I mean, we’re in the top 100 of toys on Amazon and that’s out of hundreds of thousands. So I was just like, that’s really so shocking to us. Like, it’s amazing how, uh, how well it’s being received. So I appreciate your mentioning it and supporting it. That is great to hear. No, it’s a lot of fun, uh, guys from the FunInMotionToys.com. Check it out. It’s so let me get it right. Wait. So I see both. It’s actually about, and it stands for shape shifting box, right? I’m telling you just like Nolita. Awesome.
Very, very cool. Kevin and Jimmy, thank you guys for taking the time to me and passing early. I appreciate it. Uh, it was great to hear from you guys, like I said, we’ll have you back guys, listen to past the normal as always, if you like what you hear, you have to leave us a review because the more you leave us a review for more podcasts, we can produce have a wonderful week and we will see you guys next week.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week.