After studying animation in college, making a few films (“I liked the film, but I don’t understand what took you so long to make it.” John Cage), and then becoming too poor to finance more filmmaking on my own, I started creating flipbooks. Having a cost of a pad of paper and a pencil, and being able to work on them wherever you go, flipbooks have much to like.That lead to a discovery of the 19th century toy, the phenakistascope. I created a few of these, and during the Xmas season of 1988, went around town to see if any stores would want to carry them. Amazingly enough three of them did. Even more amazingly, they all reordered more within the same month.
By the following February I had gained two new customers – one that would be my smallest (and favorite), Joie de Vivre in Cambridge Massachusetts, and the other that would be one of my largest, the Smithsonian Institute.
So with that, I decided to get more serious with silly toys. In 1992 I published my first series of Eadweard Muybridge flipbooks. They became an instant hit, and have been carried in most every major museum in the world. They are now in their fourth or fifth edition, I’ve lost count. (They did so well that another company decided they should steal the idea for themselves. A small honor indeed.)
Optical Toys started off very small, slowly grew to be a small company and now has shrunk to be a very small company once again. I remain the owner, operator, chief sales officer, chief finance officer, sole employee to whom I am the boss, and head janitor. Over the years I have sought out the interesting, the quirky, and the unique. I have published reproduction toys and books, as well as creating some myself or publishing the work of other animation artists. It has been an interesting adventure, one that becomes especially gratifying after I share the results with the world. – Andy, Optical Toys