Klimbo is the company behind the incredible Wooden Puppet Theater, a toy that crosses the line into fine arts craftsmanship. A beautiful, elegant, and painstakingly detailed piece, the theater is made of high-quality wood, velvet red curtains, lights up, and comes with an array of fairy-tale inspired backgrounds and characters in both color and black and white. The beautifully rendered illustrations and characters are perfect for casting in Plays and certain pieces—such as a sun and clouds—can even be suspended from the ceiling. Moreover, children are encouraged to create their own character and backgrounds to produce entirely original tales. This is a replica of a real theater, a hand-made luxurious product that is not just a toy but a new generation of entertainment that fosters creative thinking and expression. The design is a marvel containing perfect functionality; the miniature theater includes mechanically operated moving curtains, stage rigs, a rotating stage, adjustable front and overhead LED lighting, two movable wings – screens for actors’ hands – and a music box. Despite this complexity, it is very easy to assemble.
Klimbo designed this theater as a muse; a way for children to make up stories and share them. It is an incubator for one’s dreams and imaginations. Founded in 2014, Klimbo Eco Toys produces a range of playthings such as trucks and cars (all of which are made from natural materials) but their staple item is that theater which debuted at the 2019 New York Toy Industry Association (TIA) to great acclaim.
A small team of dedicated craftspeople put heart and soul into further developing and improving the theater. To the existing curtains, sets, stage rigs and lighting a rotating stage was added along with a hurdy-gurdy, and the theater turned up spectacular. In today’s highly technological world, the wooden theater illuminates the toy industry up with a different, warmer light (literally). Klimbo want to show this light the children around the world!
Ivo recently discussed his invention and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): You started your career in radio and theater, so what was your role in those industries?
Ivaylo Timanov (IT): We are five partners in Klimbo Eco Toys and we have different business backgrounds. We got together to make a dream come true. We all loved the idea for a wooden mini theater as a traditional toy, which is not only for kids but for whole family to enjoy and get entertainment from. We all participated in the toy development to the way you see it now – everyone with an idea, everyone with an opinion, step by step. It was a long but joyful process to get to the final version of our beloved Klimbo mini theater with the convenient size and lovely packaging, with the impressive design and reach functionality.
MM: How did you decide to form Klimbo and what does the name mean?
IT: To choose a name of your toy is like to choose a name for your baby. The name came naturally, as it was designed before and had been sleeping in our minds until the toy came into existence. There is no particular meaning behind it and, at the same time, there is great meaning in it – it is our “child” that was created to bring happiness to millions of people in the world!
MM: What were the challenges of designing the theater and how did you decide on the characters and backgrounds?
IT: There were challenges of course in two main directions – size vs functionality and functionality vs cost! To make an attractive theater with all functionalities but easy to assemble and convenient to carry was a thrill. We optimized somehow the dimensions to get within air-plain cabin luggage size. This was very important for us because in this way the Klimbo mini theater becomes easy to travel with. You can take it to friends or grandparent’s houses. Thus, you can change the stereotype and instead of saying “Let’s go to the theater” the theater will come to you!
We have chosen three well-known stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Puss in Boots, with colored characters and background that are provided with the mini theater. However, the main idea is for the kids to create stories and characters themselves using the stage of their mini theater to express to the audience any dream or story they have in mind. The real magic begins when on the stage of the mini theater kids start playing with their own imagined hero in their own created stories. The pleasure of this play is long-lasting because the story development and performance are real ones – prepared and played by the kids themselves. It is fascinating feeling not only for the performers but also for the audience, which usually are their parents and grandparents.
MM: How many people did it take to finalize the theater and was it difficult to translate the instructions into so many different languages?
IT: When you do something with your heart there are no difficulties, there are only challenges. Yes, it is not a simple issue to get the mini theater ready for serial production. However, we are good team and we made it happen for less than a year.
MM: What are some of the most creative stories you have seen children invent while playing with this theater?
IT: The first time I got one of the mini theater prototypes at home my two boys were not so excited to start playing with it. It was quite normal, because the electronic gadgets kept strongly and for long their attention far from the reality. However, I was persistent and started playing myself on the mini-stage. Sure, as any parent does, I started with well-known stories, but soon moved to my own interpretation. Kids loved that, finding in this toy a way to show themselves in a cozy way, to release their imagination playing with no typical tools in hands – natural wood instead of plastic, their own voice instead of scratching, screaming electronic sounds. Gradually, they find it funny and attractive to make characters and stories themselves. A few months later, after our summer holiday, I found my younger son coloring sheet of paper in blue and cutting it in shape of waves. I was wondering what was it for. Soon I got it – it was the background for the new story – “How I Spent My Summer Holiday.” It was great fun for all of us. The electronic pictures were not valid memory anymore, the story on the stage was valid feeling of what the holiday was for us. This is unforgettable feeling, which I believe any parent and any child deserves. The Klimbo minitheater is a tool to get it.
MM: How did you get into the New York Toy Fair and what was the response to the theater like?
IT: We came to exhibit at the NY Toy Fair as a result of growing sales in USA. In previous years we were focused on developing the market in Europe. However, we received order by order from clients in the USA who found us on Etsy. There is no better place then NY to exhibit our theatre! Broadway – where dreams come true, where theater art meats the public with all variety of colors, sounds and emptions it creates. It was a perfect fit for us and we are really happy that we had a chance to be here.
MM: How have you gone about getting this theater sold and what are your biggest hopes for it?
IT: It might sound strange, but for us this is not a business case, it is a cause. We are not chasing numbers, we aspire to bring old traditions back to life thus to show the kids of the earth the real pleasure of playing with traditional toys, the real family entertainment that provides long-lasting memories. It is so strange, we all are looking for deep feeling, great pleasure and deep emotions using the seducing smart phones, computers, play stations or TV and we pay real fortune for that “on-off” play-gadgets with little understanding that pleasure they provide is the same “ON-OFF” and nothing, full emptiness after that! The solution we believe is in traditional toys like Klimbo mini-theater requiring time to prepare, simple but natural action, fine emotions and pleasant feelings that even raise after stop playing and last for long inside us. This is not a business, this we feel obliged to do for our kids, for the kids of Bulgaria, for the kids in Europe, for the kids of America!
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To learn more about Klimbo, visit their official website.
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Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News, and Entertainment Vine. She is also a stop-motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Communication. She is also an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Meagan is a contributing editor to Kidskintha writing on Toys, Games, Entertainment, and other topics that are happy and fun!