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Local inventors devise the toys that top kids' Christmas lists. Here's what's in store for 2021

Bang Zoom pic.jpg
Ann Thompson
Bang Zoom Design owners Steve Fink and Mike Hoeting have had a lot of sucess over the years. Their biggest seller was Hokey Pokey Elmo, named Toy of the Year in 2003.

Squeakee The Balloon Dino, BB Hoopster and My Little Pony Sunny Starscout are among their creations.

In a nondescript building right near TQL Stadium, Steve Fink and Mike Hoeting have creative juices flowing. As the owners of Bang Zoom Design, they invent toys and sell their ideas to companies like Fischer Price, Hasbro and Mattel.

For decades they’ve been very successful. In 2003, they came up with Hokey Pokey Elmo, the Toy of the Year.

“We usually look at the toy industry in categories," says Fink. "You can say dolls, games, preschool but we look at a category now - is it a hot toy? Because every year there’s going to be another hot toy.”

This holiday season they have every category covered, with a pony who skates, a dinosaur who looks like he was constructed from a latex balloon and a game that wraps your mind in a pretzel.

Squeakee is really a softie

Following last year’s success with the Balloon Dog, Squeakee the Balloon Dino comes roaring out of the box, but he has a soft bite and dances while listening to headphones.

Toy companies count on online videos, like YouTube's unboxing videos, and good reviews to spread the word.

This toy is based on a Netflix film

In this video, a toy store checks out My Little Pony Sunny Starscout. This idea came to Bang Zoom Design from a Netflix movie.

You control Sunny with a microphone.

Kids like trucks and pop-a-shots, right?

Hoeting and Fink bounce their ideas off family members and think back to what they liked to play with as kids. This toy has a basketball hoop on a truck that moves. Think of the challenges!

Can your mind go in two different directions?

Crossed Signals is a game where players hold a controller in each hand and follow the lights. If the arrows point one direction players move the controllers that way. If the “X” lights up, players go in the opposite direction.

What will the next exciting toy be? Fink and Hoeting are already inventing games for 2023.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology