NOT-IN-USERick’s Patented Inventions and the Stories Behind Them

The Motorized Ice Cream Cone

What it is: A hand-held, battery operated ice cream spinning machine. Load the removable, dishwasher safe cup with a scoop of your favorite flavor and stick out your tongue. The Motorized Ice Cream Cone “takes a licking…keeps ice cream from dripping!”

The Story of this Invention: Rick was reading Eric Carle’s classic children’s story “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to his young son one day. The caterpillar in the story ate through an ice cream cone and Rick had an idea–put a motor inside a cone-shaped machine to automatically spin your ice cream!

Cool Facts: On its way to becoming a manufactured toy, The Motorized Ice Cream Cone appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Discovery Channel and in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Price: $9.95
2 AA batteries (not included.)

Pro Thumb Wrestling

What it is: A miniature wrestling ring for two thumbs. Two players grab handle and insert thumbs up through holes. First thumb to pin opponent is the champion.

The Story of this Invention: As a teacher’s aide in 1989, Rick was thumb wrestling a 1st grader during recess. He’d been watching t.v. the night before and had seen bigtime, pro wrestling while flipping channels. Rick made a connection: thumb wrestling + pro wrestling = Pro Thumb Wrestling. A toy was born. Rick made 8,000 wooden Pro Thumb Wrestling toys by hand that year, helping to pay his way through graduate teacher’s college. He was awarded his first United States Patent for Pro Thumb Wrestling in 1991.

Cool Facts: Actress Jennifer Aniston (of “Friends”) and comic Ellen Degeneres Pro Thumb Wrestled on national television during the premier episode of Ellen’s NBC daytime talkshow in Sept. 2003. Ellen won.

Price: $7.95

Crazy Cords Friendship Bracelet Factory

What it is: A machine for making your own shoelaces, friendship bracelets, keychains, belts and cords. Twists all types of fiber (yarn, string, embroidery floss, etc.) into dazzling designer ropes in seconds.

The Story of this Invention: Rick remembered a rustic, hand-cranked rope-making device he had once seen as a Boy Scout. He built one and gave it to his students to play with. They loved the ropes it made, but found the machine difficult to use. Rick designed a new, user-friendly model that made perfect cords every time.

Cool Facts: Rope-making was invented by the ancient Egyptians more than 4,000 years ago. Of course, they didn’t have cool, battery-powered toys back then–they used their hands to twist plant fibers and create the world’s first ropes. The same basic twisting process is used in modern industrial rope-making factories today. Crazy Cords was awarded the National Parenting Center’s prestigious Seal of Approval. Although designed for children, Crazy Cords has been discovered and used by serious textile artists and beaders around America to create intricately-patterned cords.

More Info: See the Crazy Cords Photo Album. for project ideas.

Price: $19.95
2 C batteries (not included.)

Spinsation – The Whirling Wonder

What it is: A springy squeeze toy that spins a button on a string. It pulses and vibrates and looks a little like a scientific instrument.

The Story of this Invention: One of Rick’s favorite folk toys has always been the classic “Button Buzzer” or “Buzz Saw.” It’s simply a button or disk suspended between your two hands on a loop of string. When the string gets twisted and you pull your hands apart, the button whirls, first in one direction and then the other. One day Rick wondered whether there was a way to get the button to spin with just one hand. He bolted two sticks together in the shape of an “X” and tried connecting his button and string to one end. It didn’t work. So he built another model and that didn’t work either. He ended up building more than 25 models of his toy before he found the perfect shape.

Cool Facts: More than 300 United States Patents have been awarded for button-spinning toys. The technical name for a button-on-a-string toy is “string torsion device.” Pioneer children played with disk-spinning toys more than 150 years ago. Spinsation isn’t just a cool toy–it’s been used in hospitals and clinics as a low-impact hand exerciser.

Price: $7.95

How to Buy: Add to Cart


What it is: A basketball-style cup ‘n ball toy that whirls, spins, clicks and does all kinds of neat tricks. By spinning the frame on its rotating handles, players can perform tricky stunts while attempting to catch the ball in one of the baskets.

The Story of this Invention: One day Rick made a small toy clown out of a tongue depressor, two bottle caps, a piece of thread and a small jingle bell. While talking on the phone, he accidentally twirled the clown around in his fingers and noticed something surprising: the bell swooped up and around, traveling from one bottle cap to the other and landed with a pleasing “click.” This accidental discovery led Rick to improve upon the toy. He dropped the clown theme in favor of basketball, and Hoop 2 Hoop was born.

Cool Facts: Cup and ball toys are some of the oldest toys in history. They have been found in the remains of civilizations dating back thousands of years. In medieval times, a cup and ball type toy called the ‘bilboquet’ was a popular plaything with both children and adults. Hoop-2-Hoop has been sold, among other places, at the NBA store in New York City. It’s easy to master the basic “back and forth” catch with Hoop-2-Hoop, but other tricks, like the Sky Hook (shown at left) can be VERY tricky.

How to Buy: Sorry, this item is out of stock.