Belfast Telegraph

Christmas comes early for Irish Dragon's Den toy maker

A self-employed animator who faced the ordeal of the 'Dragon's Den' is poised to take the Christmas toy market by storm with his new creation.

Michael Connolly (39), who came up with the idea of a children's animation kit three years ago, watched yesterday as the first batch of his new 'Animatazz' toy rolled off the production line at the Hasbro factory in Waterford.

The kit, which teaches children from the age of eight to make their own animation film with the help of a digital camera and computer, is set become a top-10 bestseller this Christmas.

Animatazz will be on the shelves in Smyth's toy stores next week and already the company has a waiting list of 800.

"I'm a bit dizzy by it all," a delighted Michael, who lives in Co Kildare with his wife Eva and year-and-a-half-old daughter Lucia, said.

Earlier this year, he went on the RTE 'Dragon's Den' programme seeking investment for his new toy and came away with €80,000 from businessman Gavin Duffy for a 45pc stake in his company.

"It's been a rollercoaster, trying to get everything done, making sure that it works well, that the kids will be able to use it and that it's an enjoyable, fun toy," he said.

Michael is now hoping that it will become the number one toy in Ireland this Christmas, opening up new business opportunities in the international toy market.

"I always believed it would work but never realised how hard it would be. It's been really hard graft trying to get it going," he added.

Belfast Telegraph