Sweet music: Turn on, tune in, pop out TRENDS

July 19, 1998|By Knight Ridder/Tribune

Andy Filo calls it "dentamandibular sound transduction through a consumable line." The U.S. toy industry is calling it the hottest product of 1998.

Filo, a former B.F. Goodrich engineer from Ohio, is the man behind Sound Bites, a toy-candy treat that plays music in your head when you eat it. Yes, in your head. Rock and roll. Drums. Space sounds. Guitar. Saxophone. Wacky tunes and voices. Just push the buttons on the holder and your lollipop plays whatever you want.

Sound Bites is being introduced in some markets this month, and is scheduled to be available in Baltimore in August. Brisk sales are expected. When Sound Bites first hit shelves in test markets at FAO Schwarz and Toys R Us in San Francisco and New York, it became the No. 1-selling candy within hours at both stores.

Using a computer chip, the candy toy - a lollipop on top of a battery holder - sends sound vibrations into the eater's mouth; the vibrations are conducted through the teeth into the inner ear. The sound is barely audible outside the consumer's mouth. The holder takes any standard lollipop, including sugar-free ones, Filo said. It comes with batteries and two lollipops.

"All that's missing is your head," the package reads. The product retails for about $10.

Filo developed the toy with partner David Capper, the development and advertising force behind Micro Machines and Koosh Balls. Capper is the marketing guy, Filo the electronic nerd.

Together, they sold the concept to toy giant Hasbro Inc., where Sound Bites has its own subsidiary.

While he has worked for the military, developing aircraft navigation systems, Filo's first love is toys. And Sound Bites won't be his first big hit. While at Atari Computers, he developed a robotic cat called Petster that racked up $23 million in sales.

"The best part of this job is watching people's eyes light up when they see it and hear it," Filo says. "Even adults go crazy."

Pub Date: 7/19/98

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