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The Toy Story:
An Inventor’s Dream Come True

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The Toy Story: An Inventor’s Dream Come True

Mike Fry



“One Day can change your life. Yes, even one moment can change your life.
You just never know when that day or moment will come.” M. Fry
Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen coauthors of The One Minute Millionaire, display their delight in the Always Together Bear mentioned in their book and manifested as a real toy for children of all ages. The Always Together Bear will start arriving in major toy stores, January 15, 2003.
Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen coauthors of The One Minute Millionaire, display their delight in the Always Together Bear mentioned in their book and manifested as a real toy for children of all ages. The Always Together Bear will start arriving in major toy stores, January 15, 2003.

I raised my hand in a conference and told my aha, like many other people did. Unknowingly, as I did so, I sold my toy that moment. I sold it that simply, that quickly, that spontaneously. I did it that moment … after 14 years of hard work and near financial ruin trying to sell that same toy.

This is my true story, which in essence says, “Never give up on your dream. When the time is right, it will happen.”

Dreams can come true:

Have you ever wanted something with all your heart and soul?

Have you still wanted it even though everybody keeps telling you to give up, get a life beyond your dreams, and wake up and realize how dumb your ideas are?

Have you ever stubbornly closed your mind to all the negative people around you and keep on going down your “I’ll-do-it-my-way” path?

Have you refused to let your heart or spirit break even though at the end of every hopeful meeting you’ve had in the last 14 years you and your ideas were rejected, laughed at, or shot down?

I have – and that’s the strange, but true facts surrounding my Goal # 118.

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Goal # 118 started when I took a 12-week goal setting personal-development class back in 1982. Let see, that was 20 years ago, and I was Mike Fry, an eager, hopeful, 22-year-old kid. In that class I read about John Goddard, the man who was considered to be the world’s greatest goal setter. Inspired by Goddard, I wrote down every goal I could imagine that I would ever want to accomplish. There were 165 of them. There at age 22, I had my lifetime goals set in concrete before me. All I needed was a specific plan of action for each.

From 1982-1987 I managed to check 32 goals off my list. However, Goal # 118 kept attracting my attention and kept urging me to take action. Excitedly, I jumped ahead and began my pursuit of it.

Goal # 118 read: Invent and get a patent on my invention.

This became perhaps the hardest and the most painful goal of any I could have chosen and would change my life and take my career in a whole new direction.

For three months in 1987, I went to the library and read non-stop on inventing. At last an idea popped into my head.

Goal # 118 now had vision.  It was an audio pillow I called, “Storytime Pillow.”

It took me the rest of 1987, all of 1988 and some of 1989 to create it and get a patent on my audio pillow idea. At last, I thought I was on “easy street.”  I knew that within a year or two, I would have a toy manufacturer swooping up my idea and paying me royalties for a lifetime.  Little did I know that my “easy street” was full of dead ends, twists, tears, thieves and years of struggle.

Being a person who loves to read and learn was my saving grace. My two favorite stories were Carl Carlson and his 17-year journey to make his copy machine (Xerox) a reality and Thomas Edison’s quest to invent the light bulb. Edison’s 10,000 experiments to create the filament were indelibly etched in my mind. “Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up,” I kept telling himself.

Are all inventor’s crazy?

My life had not been conventional.

At age 19, I quit my job to run off and join the circus. I became a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and toured all over the U.S.  While on the road I picked up a copy of Think and Grow Rich in a used bookstore. This book started me thinking and dreaming big. It changed my life by reading about how ordinary people transformed their hopes and dreams into reality.

I fell in love with stories of famous inventors and how they refused to give up regardless of how many people laughed at them or how many times they failed. Little did I know how valuable reading “hard luck” stories would be for me in my invention endeavors.

Then for eight years, I starred in my own children’s TV show, Happy’s Place. It turned out to be very successful. But there again I quit in the height of its success and went off to chase my dream of being a successful inventor. I felt I had to pursue Goal #118 fulltime.  Maybe I really was crazy, I often thought. That was in 1990. Everyone I knew thought I was nuts to just pack it up and suddenly change professions, especially since my show was very popular and had a two year wait for tickets.

Words of success and failure haunted me.

“People don’t buy from clowns,”

Claude Hopkins, who was widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest advertising experts, said.

However, I had not read those words, yet.

I was an energetic ex-circus clown, a successful ex-TV star – now, turned inventor. I had decided to risk my entire life savings and leave everything to market my inventions. After all I thought, my positive thinking and great attitude would knock down all doors.

I had saved enough money to live nicely for about two years. Within that time my Storytime Pillow would be sold. And I had other inventions that would sell also.  I had complete confidence that I was risking nothing and was pursuing success and financial freedom much greater than I had known.

I decided to attack Goal # 118 and do everything in my power to sell my idea. So I flew to meet toy companies, met with famous inventors for help and paid for their advice, had toy brokers show it to the major toy companies that refused to meet with unknown inventors in person, and made hundreds and hundreds of telephone calls for four years. I was 110% sure “any day now” my ship would come in and I would be able to do all the things I promised I would do for my parents and pursue my love of travel and adventure.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. How wrong I was.

By the spring of 1993, I was flat broke. I had followed the concept of “burning the bridge” behind you. It was a strategy I had learned in Think and Grow Rich. I soon realized the strategy had a serious flaw the book didn’t talk about.

The flaw is …

You can never be sure of how long it will take to succeed – once you burn that bridge!

Both of my inventions that I was trying to sell created a huge financial drain and snickers from people that felt sorry for me. My friends would say, “How is that big invention coming along and what about your flavored fortune cookies?” Being very upbeat and a positive person I would smile and say, “I’m getting closer. It’s only a matter of time.”

Within two months , I woke up one day and discovered my bank balance was down to $5.62.

I spent the next three years starting over from scratch. I borrowed money from close friends, family, and even neighbors to survive and keep my fortune cookie business alive.

In 2000, I decided to try hard again to market my Storytime Pillow.  I flew to a very exclusive and expensive seminar to meet with a successful toy inventor who was speaking there. I was sure he was the one person who could finally help me get my invention on the market.

After begging the successful toy inventor to look at my idea and give me some help, the expert very reluctantly agreed. One week later I called him. I was very excited because I was sure the toy expert would “gush” about how good the invention was, and how he would help.

“It’s a “no go” the toy inventor blurted out.

Not ever hearing the phrase before I said, “No go,” what does that mean?” 

“It means it’s not worth considering and that you should abandon the idea. Besides, I thought of that, too, several years ago, but I decided not to do it.”

The words he said and the way he said it felt like a knife in my heart.  I was sure the expert with 23 different toys invented and licensed would see a glimmer of hope in my idea or at least lead me to the right person or make a call to Hasbro or Mattel for me. Instead, he was what I call a dream killer! Like so many other experts he made a snap decision and then decided to destroy my self-confidence, my idea and my dream … all in less than a three-minute phone call.

After the shock, of the inventor’s total arrogance, lack of support and complete negativity, I hung up the phone and was more determined than ever to prove that the expert was wrong.

What the expert could not see was what so many experts and consultants can’t see. The invisible. It’s the fire in the eyes and the red-hot determination burning inside of a die-hard dreamer.

Once again, one of my favorite quotes from Napoleon Hill started playing over and over in my mind.  The quote was

“Most people succeeded just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

This was always screaming in my mind, and I decided to keep trying and not let my dream die no matter how long it took me or who rejected me. For over 14 years I pursued and persisted. I explained my invention to scores of people. Almost every mother or father that heard the concept said, “What a great idea!”  Please, let me know when you get it made and I’ll be the first to buy one.”

The only problem was every toy broker, company or consultant I showed it to was less than excited and told me to keep coming up with more and better ideas.

They were wrong.

As I said in the beginning:  One day can change your life. Yes, even one moment can change your life. You just never know when that day or moment will come.

All the affirmations … all the positive books … all the seminars … all the rejection … all the mocking laughs … all the pain … all the prayers …

Who can say when your dreams will come true?

No one.

That is why you must you must pick yourself up after every rejection and negative person you encounter and keep going. It’s your dream, not theirs!

And on June 1, 2001 in Chicago my dream (Goal # 118) suddenly took wings.

My 14-Year Dream becomes a Reality!

The distinguished speaker onstage, Millionaire-Maker, Robert G. Allen, asked, “Did anyone have any big aha’s during the seminar so far?”

I stood up wide-eyed and eager and said, “I had a big aha!”

“What is it?” Robert Allen inquired?

“Well, when the previous speaker, Mark Victor Hansen, mentioned that his goal was to change kids’ lives one story at a time, I had an instant thought that literally flashed into my mind.”

“For eight years, I did a live children’s television show, Happy’s Place. During that time I had tons of parents tell me that their young children wanted to hear bedtime stories every night, but they were just too tired to tell a bedtime story to each child, each night. As we all know the divorce rate is sky-high, and it’s especially tough for single family parents to tell each child a story each night.

“So I invented and have a patent on a unique children’s pillow that a child can sleep with every night and hear their favorite bedtime story. All parents have to do is simply tuck their child in and when the child squeezes the pillow, it plays their favorite bedtime story in their parent’s voice.

Or if the parents have to be out of town, they could simply record a message such as: “Honey, this is mommy. You know daddy and I love you so much, but we’ve got to be gone for a few days. However, we know you love “The Three Bears,” so here’s your favorite story. Once upon a time, there were three bears … “

Or, if a child is afraid of the dark and wakes up in the middle of the night, afraid, scared, frightened and lonely, the child can simply squeeze his or her pillow and hear a soothing, comforting message from their mom or dad or a special “Don’t be afraid of the dark” message.

On that particular day and in that particular room full of excited people with hopes and dreams of their own, a starry-eyed inventor, me, explained my invention. It created something extraordinary. It caused much of the room to be moved, smile, take a deep breath and say, “ahhh” … as in ahhh that is so cute and darling! It seemed to be to me an almost heaven-sent moment.

I had explained my idea literally hundreds of times in the last 14 years to many groups of people, toy companies, consultants and loads of single moms, dads and parents, but I had never had such a strong and positive reaction from a room full of people. The room to me had a strange sense of energy on that miraculous day. The audience’s heartfelt reaction made me smile and glow inside.

I then said, “The phrase that Mark Victor Hansen had said earlier was similar to my goal for 14 years.

Mark’s goal is to change kids’ lives “one story” at a time.

My goal is to change kids’ lives one night at a time.

So that was my big Aha. Maybe my patented invention could help change kids lives one story and one night at a time!”

That simple act of telling the audience my “big aha” instantly created a strange wave of energy and excitement. It took only two minutes to tell, but it opened the door to my hopes and dreams and helped me begin to realize a goal I had set back in the spring of 1982, in my 12-week goal-setting course.

Within the next thirty minutes both Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen did something that no one before them had done in the last 14 years.

They listened to my idea with a sense of possibility.

They instantly saw all the reasons that children would love my invention and how it really could help change kids lives one night and one story at a time.

I suddenly realized something very important. I had been showing my pillow to all the wrong people. I showed it dozens of times to people that looked for reasons why something couldn’t be done – instead of showing the idea to people of “like mind” that had an ultimate sense of possibility.

The next important piece of the puzzle fell into place in an even more incredible way.

Deciding to go the Licensing Show in New York just 14 days later, I was on a mission. The overriding reason for going to the show was to find the right person to help me find a toy company to license the product to.

I showed up at the show on day one and went from booth to booth. I talked to to numerous exhibitors. However, I did not find the person I needed, and I knew it. On the second day of the show while waiting for the bus to take me back to the hotel, I “willed my mind” to attract the right person to sit beside me.

I had learned “attraction mindset” techniques from Brian Tracy and had used them for years. For me, sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. However, on this day because of my association with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen, I felt more power and energy flowing through my veins than usual. I felt the attraction techniques would work for me.

As I got on the bus I scooted over to the window seat so someone could sit beside me. Silently, I started doing the most powerful and passionate affirmations I could create. I started repeating over and over again in my mind the following affirmation:

“The most incredible person will sit beside me that will help me with my pillow.”
“The most incredible person will sit beside me that will help me with my pillow.”
“The most incredible person will sit beside me that will help me with my pillow.”

I repeated this continually. Person after person filed by me and started filling up the bus. Every seat around me was almost occupied. I closed my eyes and literally wanted to scream out the affirmation I was saying in my mind. I said it mentally with every ounce of passion I had in my heart and soul without actually screaming it out loud and scarring everyone on the bus.

“Anybody sitting here?”  I heard a voice say.

I looked up, “No, have a seat,” I said with a sinking heart. As I looked at the man taking the seat next to me I thought, “Oh no! He’s not the right person!” He was an older man who was very plain looking and not at all what I had visualized as the go-getter I wanted.

“Are you an exhibitor or an attendee?” the gentleman asked.

“I’m a walker,” I said. “I’m just walking the show! I’m a custom fortune cookie manufacturer and I make 17 flavors and colors in fortune cookies.” I smiled “What do you do?”

“I’m the in the toy business,” he said.

“What do you do in it?” I curiously asked.

“I look for new toys, I’m a new product buyer for Larami Toys.

Bam! In a heartbeat, I knew this was the right person I wanted to be sitting next to me. He was the contact I had “willed” into the seat. My body actually started tingling from my head to my toes.

At the end of the bus ride he handed me his business card and said, “Give me a call if you ever need anything son.” I put the card in my wallet and thought to myself, “This card is pure gold.”

This was again a magical moment. One of those times you can’t explain, but you instantly know this is the exact person you are meant to meet.

The man’s name was Harold Frankle. As the pillow project began to take shape I called him and said, “Harold, I need a really good prototype expert!” He gave me two names that day. I called only one, Joan Dunn. When I called her, she explained that she was currently semi-retired, but she became intrigued and suggested that I send the project to her and she would take a look at it.

Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen always talk about the concept of “Plussing” an idea. The theory is you take an idea and you keep making it better and better by plussing it and plussing it …

Joan Dunn looked at what I presented and plussed it, instead of doing what others did, reject it without seeing its possibilities.

First, she turned the audio pillow into an audio teddy bear. She then created several different styles for consideration.

Amazingly, Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen never asked if it could be done. They just BELIEVED it could.

And Joan Dunn didn’t say, “Oh this is not a good idea. She just looked at the concept and discovered the right way to “plus it” by turning it into an actual, loveable, plush teddy bear, instead of a big stuffy pillow.

On January 10th, 2002, twelve years, one hundred thirty two days from the time I got my patent, two men with a giant sense of possibility, one great semi-retired toy-designer, and an inventor with stars glowing in his eyes, together walked in Hasbro Toys.

Three weeks later we got the news that we had sold the idea to Hasbro Toys. It was truly the concept of PLUSSING AN IDEA in motion.

What’s in your heart?

Somebody, somewhere, really can help you turn your hopes and dreams into reality. If your idea feels right to you, then you must keep trying to find the “walking angels of the earth” that can make your dream happen.

Your life really can change in a minute. So make every day count by trying to breath life into your dream each and every day. And if you come across dreamers like you, please reach out your hand and help them. Be a dream maker and not a dream taker. Always help others believe in themselves, and it will always add fuel to your own hearts desire, make you feel warmer inside, and soothe your own heart and soul.

A five-pointed star was formed that will shine in each night sky as children all over the world squeeze their teddy bear and hear their favorite story. Their lives … changed one story and one night at a time.

What are those five points?

  1. I wanted my invention sold to a toy company so that it could change kids’ lives one night at a time.
  2. Joan enjoyed coming out of retirement to make a great successful presentation again to the industry and company she had loved so much.
  3. Harold helped out a stranger who became a grateful friend.
  4. Hasbro has a line of plush toys that are destined to be very popular.
  5. Mark and Bob. Well, here is the surprise. They got a wonderful climax to their story. You see Mark and Bob were writing a story together, The One Minute Millionaire. The main character needed to manufacture a product (a toy) that would be hugely successful so she could regain her children. They had considered several toys, but all were too common. The audio Teddy Bear was perfect!

Now how perfect a star is that!

Don’t ever let the stars in your eyes stop glowing. They are there to attract people together to make your and their dreams come true. At the center of the star are the kids listening to their favorite stories told by their mom or dad near or far. That can change a kid’s life one story and one night at a time.  That’s the real success in achieving my ultimate Goal # 118!


In looking at all the events that have taken place to make this little audio teddy bear, I now realize that timing is so very important. Just think of it, if I had sold my talking pillow idea even to a major toy, gift or pillow manufacturer, I could have gotten a nice advance, a good royalty deal and then maybe nothing would have happened. It takes promotion – getting the word out –  to make things fly off the shelf once they are on the shelf.

Now, think of it. With millions of books, Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen ‘s One Minute Millionaire’s, out there and each one promoting my audio toy. Wow, are more going to fly off the shelf, faster than ever imagined before?

WOW, Yes!

That’s the power of when it is right it, is right. Be prepared for your ship to come in and when it does let it be filled with the treasures abundant!

My Lists of Strike Outs before My Home Run

Never Give up.

The following is some of the activities, efforts, meetings, and proposals that I went through before my success with Mark and Bob. The other deals didn’t come together because the people did not click, situations didn’t mesh, or the timing was off. Sometimes, internal company politics came into play also. Many good friends tried to help me along the way, but something blocked it.

I learned much while on this long road. I hope your road to achieving your goal is not as long and rocky as mine has been. If it is, just keep at it. NEVER give up your dream.

I BELIEVE THE ONLY WAY TO FAIL IS TO QUIT! Thank heaven I didn’t quit.

When your passion is there, and you are open to the universe, it will provide what you need sooner or, as in my case, later. But believe me it has been worth it all the way.

All of my work to succeed reminds me of Dolly Parton’s quote: “I’m an overnight success 25 years later!” or Babe Ruth’s story – the Home Run King, but also the Strikeout King! HMMMMMMMM. His lesson, that all of us need to take to heart, is “Get up to Bat!”

Thus, here are my strikeouts along the way to my home run.

Presentations and Consultations Regarding Storytime Pillow

  1. Arthur “Spud” Melin (Whammo – Co – Owner) Consultation – Workshop
  2. Betty James – Slinky Company Owner – Presentation
  3. New York Toy Fair – 1991
  4. Playmate Toys – Presentation
  5. With Design In Mind – Presentation
  6. Inventor of 8 track tape player – Consultation
  7. President of leading invention publication – Consultation
  8. Monogram Toys – Presentation
  9. Invention Convention in Los Angeles – 1990 Exhibitor
  10. Sternberg and Associates – Nations largest gift rep firm. Looked at many products and marketed in 17 states – Consultation
  11. Homestar Company – Presentation
  12. Nasta Toys – Presentation
  13. Banning Products (10 inventions) – Presentation
  14. Schyling Products – Marketed many toys – Presentation
  15. Lyon Products (6 inventions) – Presentation
  16. Breslow, Morrison & Turzion -#1 Invention Toy Firm in U.S. – Presentation
  17. Ken Evoy – Consulted – 23 Toys licensed
  18. Steve – Semi Famous gadget / Toy Inventor (Delly Boppers Fame)
  19. George Delaney – Toy Broker & Inventor – Tried to sell to majors (1989)
  20. Art Taylor – Toy Broker – Tried to sell to Majors (1991)
  21. Ken Hakuta (Wacky Wall Walker – Made Millions) – Fad Fair in 1988 and Workshop
  22. Gary Dahl – Famous Pet Rock Inventor – Phone call
  23. Howard Cossman – Phone call
  24. Doll Inventor in Fort Wayne (First anatomically correct teaching doll) – Consultation
  25. Ken Kerr – Design & Licensing conversatons in 1997
  26. Chicago Inventors Club – Many workshops & meetings and talked with many successful inventors in many different industries. 1990-1992

My Goal # 118 Snapshot Timeline to Success…

  • 1980 -1982 Listened to Tapes with microphone under my pillow playing my goals and affirmations.
  • 1982 – Took goal setting course and learned about John Goddard and set 165 lifetime goals. Set invention Goal #118 on my list.
  • October 20, 1986 -Met with Patent Attorney
  • 1987 – Applied for patent. Created Sesame Street Print Prototype.
  • 1989 – Major Toy Agent – shopped around to Hasbro, Mattel and others.- Rejected
  • 1989 – Went to Toy Fair in New York, presented to several toy companies – not interested.
  • 1989 – Got patent awarded.
  • 1990 – Went to Invention Convention in Los Angeles. Got booth. No Luck.
  • 1990 – Presentation for Major Toy Company – Rejected
  • 1990 – Gave Tony Robbins pillow proposal at Fire Walk seminar – Rejected 1 month later.
  • 1990 – Left television show after 8 years. Tried to get a job in nations #1 toy invention company. Presented pillow. Rejected for job & pillow.
  • 1991 – Ron Popeils Original Designer for my first 4 products – Created Prototype #2 (bus and plane print pillow).
  • 1991 – Major Toy Agent – shopped around to top toy companies again – All not interested
  • 1991 – Flew to presentation – Rejected.
  • 1992 – Toy guru with many patents – said, “It would be better and to start from scratch.” It’s dull and not a good idea. He shot down five of my ideas in 20 minutes.
  • 1992 – Flew to presentation -rejected.
  • 1992 – Presentation -rejected again.
  • 1993 – Ex partner took all receivables and stole database. Had literally $5.62 in bank account. Next three years starting over.
  • 1995 – Created prototype #3 with Teddy Bear printed cloth.
  • 1995 & 1996 – Bob Proctor Life Success Events. Presented to 8 tables of people for ideas. Showed at two different programs – No success.
  • February 1997 – Ken Kerr – discussed projects.
  • 2000 – Presented to a successful inventor who had successfully sold 23 of my toys. I said “Forget about it, it’s a no go.”
  • December 2000 – Set goals for 2001- one of top 3 was to find a company to market my pillow for royalties.
  • June 1, 2001 – BEA – mega book event in Chicago. Told Robert Allen & Mark Victor Hansen my big aha of having my invention help ” Change kids lives one night at a time.”
  • June 14, 2001 Licensing Show – Visualized intensely and did verbal affirmations while waiting on the bus to go to the hotel. “The Most Incredible Person will sit beside me that will help me with my pillow.” Harold Frankel, a 30-year toy veteran, sat beside me. Said, “If you ever need anything, son–give me a call!”
  • July 12, 2001 – Agreed with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen to do pillow project.
  • October 12, 2001 Called Harold Frankel right after signing the deal with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen. Referred me to prototype maker, Joan Dunn.
  • October 15, 2001 Called Joan Dunn and told her about the project. She took my teddy bear, printed audio pillow idea, plussed it and turned it into an actual teddy bear series.
  • January 10, 2002 – Hasbro Meeting!!! Success!!!

Mike may be reached at 317-299-8900 or by email at [email protected]

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