Fidget spinner fad fills a need for kids and adults

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Catherina Hettinger patented a small spinning toy with bearings back in the early 1990s but got tired of paying fees required to maintain her rights to the invention more than a decade ago.

Had the Winter Park, Fla., native sold those rights to a major toy company, she might be a billionaire today.

As it is, she can only watch and wonder as the fidget spinner craze takes off.

We’ve seen entrepreneurs market them by the dozens on social networks, and the usual retailers can’t keep them in stock.

Along with similar toys like the fidget block, they’ve been banned from at least one local school, despite some special needs educators using them for therapy for years.

Catherina Hettinger wasn’t the only one missing out on the craze. No major toy company is promoting the product, they don’t carry movie branding and they weren’t timed for marketing around the holiday season.

Schools that do allow them to have to enforce rules like keep your eyes on the teacher or your materials, and don’t spin them on your nose or hurl them at a classmate.

They’re mostly sold by small game or convenience stores, or online — such as local social media marketers, from $3 to $15 or more.

China is doing its best to keep up with the craze, turning many varieties out by the millions, and shipping them to Toys R Us by air rather than boat to make sure they catch the wave of popularity.

They aren’t just for kids, of course; many adults are hooked as well.

Smokers use them to have something to do with their hands when they can’t smoke, and many find fidget spinners a welcome way to burn off excess energy when their mind is working on a difficult problem.

They’re a modern version of Greek “worry beads.”

Considering current issues like Russian influence and North Korean missile tests, it’s no wonder fidget spinners are selling like hotcakes.

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