I’ve reviewed and featured GIANTmicrobes several times on our site and I’m excited to share with you a new product they’ve released for the holidays, as well as an interview I did with the creator Drew Oliver. It’s always so much fun talking with toy inventors and finding out how they got the idea for their product, as well as what it’s been like bringing it from an idea, to a reality.
New for the Holidays this year is the GIANTmicrobes Christmas Stocking Box.
I can tell you first hand how cute this little creatures are! I received my own stocking box full of Penicillin, Salmonella, Red Blood Cell, Dust Mite and limited edition Green Amoeba! They are festively adorned with decorative puffs, embroidered holly, snowflakes, reindeer nose and antlers, and cute scarf and ear muffs!
If you’re familiar with the brand, you might know about their Christmas Tree Box from last year. Also very cute! It includes the Common Cold, Brain Cell, Kissing Disease, E. coli and the limited-edition Red Amoeba, festively adorned with a Santa hat, reindeer antlers, winter scarf, candy cane, and mistletoe.
Would you like to find out how Mr. Oliver came up with the idea for GIANTmicrobes? Enjoy our exclusive interview below!
ToyXplosion: How did you come up with the idea for GIANTmicrobes®?
Drew Oliver: I read something once a long time ago written by a famous scientist name Richard Feynman. He described how alive and almost conscious microbes appeared to be to him as they moved to escape the glare of his microscope’s lamp. It occurred to me that while most people think of microbes as little blobs that are all about the same and don’t do much, in fact, they are quite distinct and indeed have little lives of their own. From that small germ of an idea, the company was born.
ToyXplosion: Tell me a little about the story behind going from an idea to an actual
Drew: Ideas can come from anyplace — conversations, magazine articles, flashes of inspiration, dreams. And when we get one that strikes our fancy, we try to develop it in large part for our own pleasure and satisfaction. I think when people can see that kind of genuine joy and fun going into a product or a brand, they respond to it more than they do to corporate calculation. Having said that, we naturally try to create products that will sell, so we do also think about target markets (is it primarily a retail product, a corporate promotional product, an educational product, etc.) and try to further develop the ideas so that they will work for the intended buyers.
ToyXplosion: When did your idea take off? Can you give us a brief history?
Drew: About a year after we launched the GIANTmicrobes® website, the humorist Dave Barry wrote some approving words about our products. This generated a wave of national exposure that produced a lot of interest in the product. Many stores started carrying it, and the company grew significantly.
ToyXplosion: Do you think your idea helps kids stay healthy? Why or why not?
Drew: I hope so! No one likes to be lectured about how to stay healthy. But a bit of humor helps the medicine go down. And I think our products provide an easy way to talk about a number of subjects that many people would prefer to avoid.
ToyXplosion: Have you heard of any practical uses for GIANTmicrobes®?
Drew: Many people buy our products just because it makes them laugh. But a lot of people also use them for educational purposes. We sell a lot to schools, and doctors, and pharmaceutical companies — and even Moms and Dads who want to help their children learn.
ToyXplosion: How many GIANTmicrobes® are there?
Drew: Over a hundred now — and we release about a dozen new designs each year.
ToyXplosion: What are some of the best sellers?
Drew: As far as the medical dolls, Common Cold sells very well. Brain Cell sells very well too. And lots of people like our Amoeba doll.
ToyXplosion: Do you have a personal favorite? If so which one and why?
Drew: The Common Cold was the first of the GIANTmicrobes® to be released, and that makes it a favorite of mine. But as their “father,” I really love them all just about the same.
ToyXplosion: Are all of your toy microbes for children? Why or why not?
Drew: Most of the GIANTmicrobes® are appropriate for all ages. However, some of the dolls relate to adult issues, and are not suitable for children.
ToyXplosion: What kind of feedback have you gotten, good and bad?
Drew: We get lots of great feedback from our fans, and we love getting it. It helps us to improve our product and our company. And, since the great majority of the feedback we receive is extremely positive, it makes us feel good about what we do.
ToyXplosion: What do you think is in the future for GIANTmicrobes®?
Drew: Our animated characters are still taking baby-steps towards their future. But as they develop, I think they will define the next stage of the company. We are working on games, and stories, and new products designed around their world.
ToyXplosion: How can people purchase GIANTmicrobes®.
Drew: GIANTmicrobes® can be purchased from our website at www.giantmicrobes.com. They are also sold in thousands of stores in the United States. We also distribute to most countries around the world.
ToyXplosion: If you weren’t created plush diseases is there another dream job of yours?
Drew: I’ve always loved making things, and designing plush creatures (half our dolls are non-pathogenic) is just one expression of that pleasure. I also like working on storytelling and creating characters. But it is an awful lot of work too! I wouldn’t mind it if things just made themselves, since watching them develop and grow is a large part of the fun. Perhaps I would have been a good farmer, where things really do. What magic there is in that.
ToyXplosion: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea for a toy, but has no clue where to start?
Drew: Start. There’s no other way to move forward. And once you start, you’ll find that you learn a lot as you go — and enough to keep going, if you work hard at it.
ToyXplosion: Do you put up a GIANTmicrobes® tree every year decorated with the GIANTmicrobes® ornaments?
Drew: No, my children make our ornaments and it is really their tree not mine.I’m very proud of what they make (and sometimes they do make little microbe-creatures of their own, which is quite flattering.) It’s very good fun watching them grow.
ToyXplosion: When you think of the GIANTmicrobes® brand, what are you most proud of?
Drew: Giantmicrobes® is very much a work in progress, so I try to avoid looking at our laurels. But I’m extremely pleased by the passionate enthusiasm expressed by our fans. And I’m glad that we’ve been able to make people laugh, and think, and maybe learn a little.