Northampton artist making horse toys with innovative eco-friendly materials and animated videos to inspire the imagination.
About the Easy Keepers Project
Hi and welcome to my Kickstarter project! Introducing Easy Keepers, a new breed of toy. I first came up with this idea and sculpted prototypes in the mid 1990's, but shelved the project until a year ago. It's been my dream to make these little bipedal horses, and after a year of intensive research, testing and refining this toy, Easy Keepers are being introduced for the first time ever.
This project is about raising funds to make these toys and to make an animated film, providing a fresh alternative to the mainstream commercialized toys and media that plague our culture.
My mission is to offer toys and film that inspire viewers to think, to use their imaginations and to create their own unique worlds of play: to see they have a role in creating the world we live in, rather than just passively watching. In the video, the characters are not named, they do not speak words, and they are shown in an environment of home-made props using found objects, recycled materials and painted backgrounds.
This is not about selling toys and accessories to make a profit. This is a radical departure from the mainstream toy industry. The toys represent such a breakthrough in materials, design and concept that it is a challenge to explain in words, yet people inherently understand all of this by seeing the toys and watching this short video.
I've always loved animation and have wanted to make animated films but I have no formal training or the funds to hire an animation studio. In the process of making this video (using only my Iphone and the IMotion app) for Kickstarter, I discovered that I love bringing these toys to life and creating something that hopefully brings joy to its viewers.
My goal is to raise funds to make these toys and collaborate with a professional animation studio to create a stop-motion animated film featuring Easy Keepers, and to build an online community for viewers to share artwork, stories, photos and video made about their Easy Keepers.
I have sketches and a rough storyboard and am ready to begin once I have funding to hire an animator. This Kickstarter video has been enthusiastically received and shared by so many viewers-- it seems to be giving people something to smile and laugh about and that makes all this worth the effort!
Thanks for watching the video and for considering supporting this project. If you'd like to know more about Easy Keepers, please read on, or visit www.easykeepers.com.
Easy Keepers on Facebook
Easy Keepers on Youtube
What's different about this toy?
The materials: As far as I know, Easy Keepers may be the first ever eco-friendly bendable rubber toys made from a combination of safe, food-grade silicone rubber, recycled paper, earth pigments, plant-based resins and wool fibers. Silicone rubber is possibly the best available material for making bendable toys. Unlike PVC and other soft plastic, silicone contains no harmful plasticizers to make it soft, it is naturally bacteria-resistant and it is extremely strong and durable. It is recyclable. And most importantly, it is safe for children. Easy Keepers are phthalate-free, BPA-free, lead-free, chlorine-free and cadmium-free.
The design: Although the materials represent a breakthrough in eco-friendly toy manufacturing, the single most noticeable quality of these toys is the design. The look and feel, the shape, the eyes, the soft wool mane and tail, and the bendable body.
The play factor: The most important quality of Easy Keepers is the inherent play factor. The toy alone is all a child needs to begin engaging in open-ended imaginative, creative play. No back story needed. Children (and adults) seem to immediately take to this toy, and need no instruction or media-driven story to know what to do. It's funny, but both children and adults connect with this toy. They "own" it the minute they pick one up. It's very thrilling to see that instant bond happening.
A toy store owner recently described them as "unique", "lovable", "nothing else like them", "needed by kids today" and "as soon as you touch one, you want to have one".
What's next: My hope is that Easy Keepers will catch on and provide a viable alternative to toys manufactured in China, made of toxic, environmentally harmful plastics (for more info on harmful materials used in toy manufacturing, visit www.easykeepers.com).
Funding support: My goal with this project is to offer Easy Keepers "Limited Edition" toys on Kickstarter to raise funds for manufacturing these toys myself using my own combination of safe, environmentally friendly materials, and with the help of skilled local artisans. With funds generated by this Kickstarter campaign, I'll be able to start manufacturing Easy Keepers toys and hire an animation studio to collaborate on a stop-motion animated film.
Whether or not I reach my Kickstarter project goal, I'll start making Easy Keepers in small quantities and increase production as demand grows. I'll continue making short videos with my Iphone. But Kickstarter support will make a huge difference in how quickly I can make these toys available at a reasonable price, which is key to their success. Once Easy Keepers gain any amount of popularity, they will no doubt be copied. Although I've done all I can to protect this design with copyright and trademark, and will file for patents, the best protection is getting Easy Keepers out there in a big way, solidly establishing them as the original among the inevitable copycat toys.
Share the story: If you like Easy Keepers, want to support an eco friendly US based startup company, then please spread the word about this Kickstarter project to anyone who may be interested!
Frequently asked questions:
- I just want to order one; what is the simplest way to do that? Just click on "pledge" and select one of the rewards. Pledge $25 and receive a certificate for one Easy Keepers toy with barn-package. Includes free shipping in USA!
- How big are they? Easy Keepers are 4" high.
- What colors do they come in? Choose from eight colors: 1) Bay, 2) Chestnut, 3) Midnight, 4) Dapple, 5) Snowflake, 6) Palomino, 7) Buckskin, 8) Pinto
Special thanks: This video was created using mostly my IPhone with the Imotion app. I made the toys, props and backdrops and filmed the video clips and still images, then turned everything over to my musician-turned video editor husband Dennis Caraher (who quickly learned how to use Final Cut Pro). Special thanks to videographer Tom Adams of Reelife Productions in Williamsburg, Ma. (www.reelifeproductions.com). The accompanying music to this video is "Walk Like a Dinosaur" by Dennis Caraher, from the record, "I Miss the Mud" (www.dogbonetown.com). Music produced by Charlie Braun and that's Sara Cornelius on violin.
About the Rewards: Easy Keepers Toy Figures are available two ways; Limited Edition and Unlimited Edition.
Please check back for updates and more images of the rewards, and if you have questions or ordering problems please don't hesitate to send a message. Thanks for your support!
- Limited Edition (these are being made first, are hand-made, numbered and signed by the artist).
- Unlimited Edition (supporters receive a certificate reserving one of the first production-run toys).
- Easy Keepers are available in three versions: Bendy, Stretchy and Bio.
- Bendy: Bendable rubber, soft material, with mouth that opens.
- Stretchy: Stretchy rubber, soft material, with mouth that opens.
- Bio: Plant-based Resin, hard, rigid bioplastic material.
poster #1, 14X11
poster #2, 11X11
poster #3, 11X11
poster #4, 14X11
poster #5, 11X11
Make a $25 pledge here on Kickstarter! I'll send you a beautiful gift-quality certificate for one of the first Easy Keepers toys.
Four inches tall