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The Next “It” Doll

After Bratz, will this be the next ‘it’ doll?

Pinkie Cooper, the newest fashion dolls from Bratz inventor Carter Bryant, are set to hit stores nationwide in late summer.

More than a decade after Bratz, the edgy multi-ethnic dolls that fans dubbed the “anti-Barbie,” became a global phenomenon, their inventor is unveiling his next creation.

Meet “Pinkie Cooper.” The 9-inch fashion doll is part human, part English cocker spaniel and a student at New York City’s World of Original Fashion academy, or WOOF! for short.

Like her Bratz predecessor, Pinkie Cooper is a fashionista. She likes to hang out and “travel” with Ginger and Pepper — two doll friends who are also part-human, part-pup — and her pet dog “L’il Pinkie.”

A lot is riding on Pinkie Cooper’s little plastic shoulders. Its inventor, Carter Bryant, has poured thousands of dollars and hours into his latest creation. Its distributor, a small toymaker called The Bridge Direct, has sunk millions into bringing Pinkie Cooper to stores nationwide. Meantime, for the $3 billion U.S. doll market, the question is whether Pinkie can repeat what Bratz first did — crack through Barbie’s dominance.

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Bryant, an independent inventor, and his sister Anjanette Abell started working together on the project in 2009. His idea: Create a doll that was sweet, cute, stylish and looked like Abell’s real cocker spaniel named Pinkie Cooper. Also, compared to Bratz, Pinkie Cooper would be “more sophisticated, glamorous and not as edgy,” he said.

While Bryant perfected his sketches, Abell focused on building Pinkie Cooper’s “look.”

“I spent a lot of time finding the right fabrics for her clothes and helped bring her character to life,” she said.

Pinkie Cooper is definitely unique, said Gerrick Johnson, toy industry analyst with BMO Capital Markets. “When you put a dog’s head on a human body, you’ve already crossed over to something that’s we haven’t seen before in fashion dolls,” he said.

Competitors that come closest are Mattel’s hugely popular Monster High dolls, who look like daughters of famous monsters, and MGA Entertainment’s Novi Stars, fashion dolls that look like aliens, Johnson said.

But will little girls fall in love with Pinkie Cooper like they did with Bratz?

Jay Foreman, founder and CEO of Florida-based The Bridge Direct, which is producing and marketing the dolls, certainly hopes so.

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“Pinkie Cooper is our single biggest product launch in our four-year history,” said Foreman. If the doll is a hit, it could potentially generate hundreds of millions in sales and propel his $40 million business into the big leagues. He plans to roll the dolls out in July in stores nationwide — as well as 20 other countries.

Foreman’s track record so far in launching hit toys is impressive. Before he founded The Bridge Direct, Foreman was the mastermind behind the launch of Spice Girls dolls in the U.S. Another toy company he founded, Play Along, successfully launched Britney Spears dolls. In late 2010, The Bridge Direct launched Justin Bieber dolls, generating more than $100 million in sales. Not bad for a 50-employee firm.

Foreman thinks chances are good that Pinkie Cooper will succeed. “She’s unusual. Like Bratz, she has the potential to break the mold,” he said. Major toy retailers like Toys R Us, Target (TGT, Fortune 500), Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and Kmart (SHLD, Fortune 500) have already ordered Pinkie Cooper dolls and will stock them in late summer, he said.

But, Foreman acknowledges, “ultimately our livelihood is based on the whims of 4- to 8-year-olds.”

Pinkie Cooper could be a big hit or fall flat, agreed Johnson. “But at least she’s an example of the risk and innovation that the toy industry badly needs right now.”

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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 Get Educated!, Get Motivated!, Self Employment Ideas Comments Off

DUI Testers

New technology to keep drunk drivers from driving

(CBS News) CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The message from police to party-goers this New Year’s Eve is: “Drive sober or get pulled over.”

There were nearly 10,000 deaths from drunk driving in the U.S. last year, down 2.5 percent from the year before.

There is now a debate over technology that could prevent drunk drivers from starting their engines.

Meredith and Matt Eastridge

Meredith and Matt Eastridge, in an undated photo


CBS News

On October 29, 2010, Matt and Meredith Eastridge were pregnant with their first child, a son.

The same night, David Huffman spent the last two hours of his life getting drunk. He put away the equivalent of 15 drinks, each one recorded on a security camera.

The 25-year-old stumbled out of the Charlotte bar and three minutes later, Matt and Meredith Eastridge were critically injured when Huffman, with a blood alcohol content of .23 and driving 100 miles per hour, hurtled into their SUV.

“I remember saying look at that, look at that car. That was the last thing i remember” before being hit head-on, Meredith said.

Six months pregnant, Meredith lost their baby.

“I think about him every day, how old he would be and what he would be doing,” Meredith said.

“There were multiple times in that night this tragedy could have been avoided,” Matt said.

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Bud Zaouk is leading a research team creating technology that could help save 10,000 lives a year.

“One is breath-based and the other is touch-based. The idea is to develop a sensor that could detect if anyone is above the legal limit of .08 and prevent them from moving the vehicle and driving,” Bud said.

With the touch-based detector, “you press the start button and it starts the vehicle. And it will be a small infrared light that shines inside the finger,” Bud said.

The infra-red light looks for alcohol in the finger’s tissue.

“Alcohol has its own unique optical signature,” Bud said, and if the optical signature registers above .08, “then the vehicle prevents you from moving.”

The sensor in the breath-based approach is located around the steering wheel.

“That infra-red light excited the molecules and allows you to find out how much alcohol you have in the breath. It’s non-contact, non-invasive,” Bud said.

The $10 million funding for Bud Zaouk’s project is split between 16 carmakers and the federal government.

However, it’s opposed by the American Beverage Institute, which represents 8,000 chain restaurants in the U.S.

The group made the following statement: “Drunk driving fatalities are at historically low levels. We shouldn’t try to solve what’s left of the drunk driving problem by targeting all Americans with alcohol sensing technology.”

Bud Zaouk said the technology still needs work.

“I think at this stage we are probably looking at eight to 10 years, when you would start seeing it inside vehicles,” Bud said.

The Eastridges now have a daughter, Sloane. They hope this technology will be standard in new cars by the time she is old enough to drive.

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Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 Get Educated!, Get Motivated!, Self Employment Ideas Comments Off

Shop At Home

Wizards of home shopping TV

Halo pocket cell phone charger

For inventor Garold Miller, TV success is still sinking in.

His Halo Pocket Power 2800 Charger, a compact charger for cell phones, debuted in November on QVC and set a new network record for most units sold in a day. It’s still sold out on QVC.

This isn’t the first time that Miller has hit the innovation jackpot. He invented guardian angel pins that were sold at gift shops nationwide. He created a fashion jewelry collection that made millions in revenue. And 10 years ago, Miller debuted a beaded “prayer box” bracelet on QVC that became a bestseller.

The Halo charger is Miller’s attempt at creating a great tech product that “makes life easier.”

The universal portable charger, which you can charge in a car or on your computer, comes in multi-colored metallics, even a bright pink leopard print. It offers six hours of charge time for all types of cellphones, e-readers and Bluetooth headsets.

NEXT: Lobster Gram

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Saturday, December 8th, 2012 Get Educated!, Get Motivated!, Self Employment Ideas Comments Off