Geomag

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Geomagworld SA
Industry Toys
Founded 2009 in Novazzano, Switzerland
Headquarters Via Roncaglia, 15 - 6883 Novazzano, Switzerland
Key people
Claudio Vicentelli inventor
Peter Jepsen modellist
Subsidiaries Geomagworld USA, Geomagworld Japan K.K.
Website www.geomagworld.com

Geomag is a magnetic construction toy. The original toy comprised bars with a magnet on each end (neodymium alloy) all attached by a magnetic plug (coated with polypropylene), and nickel-coated metal spheres. Magnetic forces hold the bars and spheres together, creating the possibility for many constructions. Invented and patented by Claudio Vincetelli in May 1998, production is currently undertaken by Geomagworld SA at the production facilities in Novazzano, Switzerland. Product lines have been added to the original model (now called Geomag PRO), growing the Geomag range of construction toys. Since the introduction of the 2009/48/EC law on 20 July 2013 restricted the content of nickel in toys, Geomag has re-modelled the spheres with a bronze alloy coating, in order to comply with the new regulations.

Invention[edit]

In May 1998, Claudio Vicentelli, experienced in technical applications of permanent magnets and the creator of the first (1st) product deposited for the magnetic circuit, and the brand name "GEOMAG" (which has developed the characters in the logo with chained circles). The patent defines a particular circuit obtained by the coupling of bars, of which each consists of two magnets at the ends and are connected with a metal pin and metallic spheres. This structure guarantees high performance using the minimum amount of magnetic material, which is very expensive. In August of the same year Vincelli grants the license to market and manufacture the products worldwide to the Italian company, Plastwood S.r.l. During this time Vicentelli perfected the technology of the construction game, ensuring the constant centesimal tolerances of the magnetic bars.

Geomag worldwide[edit]

The first introduction of Geomag products was at the end of 1999 throughout the Italian chain toy shop Città del Sole. In January and February 2000 the products demonstrated a huge success in toy fairs in Milan, Nuremberg and New York. The game quickly diffused throughout the world, so much so that in 2001 the first imitation from a small US operator entered the market with products produced in China. In 2002 the imitations increased in the market from smaller operators. In the same year, due to the difference in views in the development of the products, the relationship between Vicentelli and Plastwood comes to an end. This created the introduction of Geomag SA in January 2003, a Swiss company with its headquarters in Ticino, with the signing of the agreement between Vicentelli and Geomag SA allowing for the production of the patented construction toy line. At the end of July Geomag SA began the production and marketing campaigns of the products, including the development of panel (triangular platforms, rhombi, squares and pentagonal semi-transparent coloured polycarbonate that can be used to fill the gaps of the structures bars, with decorative function and support) which demonstrated a second success (representing 35% of the global market) and particularly became an important product line for Geomag as it differentiated the company from its imitators. This development is also a result from a patent licensed from Vicentelli. In 2004 Vicentelli settles the trademark and patent related to a strategic game called magnetic challenge with the patent on the Geomag bars. Another patent on blocks from a product line that never entered the market which acted as the supporting skeleton of the construction. In 2005 the G-Baby line was produced, consisting of cubes and half-spheres with magnetic faces, this line is targeted at early childhood children.

At the end of the year Magnetix entered the market, with a similar product to Geomag. A combination of this new competitor and the increase of magnetic toys (with the occurrence of accidents related to poor quality of Chinese made products) created problems in the market and resulted in international regulations of quality (ASTM USA and the European Commission) to interest themselves in the sector, and in 2007 introduced regulations specific to the field play-magnetic:

  1. The magnetic product (for constructive purposes) cannot accidentally it’s magnets;
  2. If the dimension of the parts are small enough to fit in the test cylinder, the product can only be sold to children +14;

These new regulations therefore resulted in the elongation of the bars to 58 mm compared to the original Geomag bars of 27 mm. The original Geomag is now called Geomag PRO and has a target of +14 and is not advertised as a toy, in line with the new regulations.

Crisis and rebirth[edit]

Geomag SA took a severe hit in the competitive struggle as it was essentially a single product company. It was affected by the lack of rules and the subsequent influx of advertising material, and was forced to close in November 2007. However, the market still showed strong potential (estimated around 400 million of dollars) whereby Geomag SA still remained the only company with a strong point of reference in the field.

In 2008 began the hunt for new potential partners, which would allow the group to recover quickly and to implement the product strategies to the market that will prove to be successful. A group of entrepreneurs gave birth to a new society, Geomagworld SA.

2009 was the year of the definitive rebirth. Geomagworld SA started a process of partial re-industrialization and in April began the production of the 58 mm magnetic bar in order to comply with the European Standard EN71. The bar eventually formed the kids lines (aged +3), along with colour (bars and spheres) and panel (bars, spheres and panels for reinforcement and a decorative effect ). The original bar (27 mm), of which production still continues, became the new line pro consisting of pro colour, pro metal and pro panel, and lost its image of being a toy and its rights to be offered to the public under 14 years of age. The line pro is still highly appreciated and consumed by the adult target market, thanks to its patented circuit and high performance as the bars are able to develop a magnetic attraction force equal to more than 200 times its own weight (4.5 grams). The G-Baby line maintained its characteristics as it is in line with all the new regulations.

In 2010 a pink line targeted at girls was introduced, and in 2011 a vehicle line wheels was released. The roly poly products were added to the G-Baby line, animal characters that swing from the hemisphere platform.

In 2012 new colours were introduced: luminous glow, and in 2013 glitter, with small sparkly metallic inserts. The world line has cardboard panels with designs (house, castle, etc.) instead of the original plain panels. The e-motion line has additional specific accessories.

2013 saw the launch of KOR Geomag, similar to a three dimensional puzzle consisting of a magnetic centre with sectors that attach through the magnetic force, allowing for the rotation and sliding around the core.

In 2014 the core technology platform KOR - is the heart of the spherical magnetic sectors that are attached to the central metal sphere, these are covered by plastic to form an egg - creating the KOR pure.

2014 saw the birth of mechanics, an extension of Geomag Classic using elements of mechanics. These new plastic elements are fully compatible and integrated with classic bars and spheres allowing the construction of larger models, more solid structures, and the use of simpler construction methods.

The magnetic toy[edit]

In an interview with Claudio Vicentelli, he discusses how he started with a prototype of wood, and eventually developed his idea to a magnetic toy how it is known today (Geomag classic and PRO). The turning point in the evolution of the project, occurred when Vicentelli was in the finalization of the design of the object, deciding how to best achieve an optimal balance between magnetic attraction force and weight. This is when the original idea was abandoned, the original form of a "brick", and to move to a new system of bars and spheres instead. The choice allowed for the maintenance of the highest ratio of magnetic force and weight-cost of each unit, while also allowing for the possible development of the project and its subsequent marketing in a relatively short time. After the selection of the most efficient form, the next phase in the development of the toys was the research and the study of materials for the various components, in addition to choosing the most appropriate magnets. Complex calculations on the diameter of the bars and spheres allowed to obtain the coupling of two bars on the same sphere with angles less than 60 degrees, which is the necessary condition for the creation of triangular figures at the base of the game. The choice of using plastic to cover the bars posed as a difficult task, however it allowed to lighten the individual units (with a thickness of a few tenth of a millimeter), while ensuring a sufficient rigidity to support the three-dimensional shape of the figures once constructed. Another aspect of the project development that Vicentelli describes as being fundamentally important, is the protection of the components from oxidation and continuous rubbing. Once all of these solutions were put in place, Vicentelli concentrated on the optimization of the product. This was done by reducing the amount of plastic being used for the coatings, alongside the constant search for the increase of the ratio of strength / weight / cost while maintaining the same performance.

Similar toys[edit]

There are toy systems similar to Geomag, with slight dimensional differences. Making geometric forms which are consistent and stable usually requires components from a single source, due to the different lengths.

Similar toys:

  • Magformers
  • Madmag
  • Magic Joint
  • Magmax
  • Magnetix
  • Magnext
  • Magstix
  • Magz
  • Supermag†
  • Xmag

Supermag also has twist bars with screw ends and 2 sizes of spheres (10mm and 12.7mm) with screw holes. Until 2003 Supermag and Geomag were both produced by PlastWood. In 2003 PlastWood discontinued the Geomag line in favor of its own Supermag line.[1] Geomag, holder of patents for their design, restarted production in Switzerland.

Some of the other toys have added features, such as bars of different or adjustable lengths, curved bars, or bars connecting to three or more spheres.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Plastwood press release

External links[edit]