Toyman turns weaponeer

Bruce Lund
Date:1 September 2010 Tags:

Bruce Lund, CEO of Lund & Co Invention, built his company’s reputation developing hit toys such as Honey, My Baby Pony and TMX. Elmo. But his latest product is hardly a plaything: a weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt.

Lund’s path to weaponeer began in 2001 when, recalling a seventh-grade science demonstration, he built a toy rocket that used hydrogen gas as the propellant. Six years later, when the Pentagon issued a request for new technologies to power nonlethal weapons, Lund applied the same concept to the Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS). Whereas current non-lethal military weapons are refilled from heavy and expensive compressed-air tanks, the VVWS utilises the high concentration of hydrogen in cans of MAPP gas sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says.

The problem with existing nonlethal weapons that fire rubber bullets, beanbags and other rounds is velocity: anything effective at 50 metres may be lethal at 5 metres, and a projectile safe at 5 metres won’t stop anyone 50 metres away. Lund’s weapon varies muzzle velocity based on distance. A soldier uses a laser scope to determine target range, and the weapon automatically provides the appropriate amount of hydrogen gas.

The inventor’s next challenge will be to make a more robust prototype and find a commercial partner for production. But whatever the future of the VVWS, Lund doubts weaponeering will lure him away from his true vocation. “Nothing is more fun than making toys,” he says.

Bruce Lund’s biggest hits
1984

Lund & Co Invention, an independent toy-maker that invents products for manufacturers, founded in Chicago.

1986
Milton Bradley buys Lund’s board game Fireball Island, now a cult classic among gamers.

1994
Hasbro debuts Baby Alive Sip ’n Slurp, a doll that can eat food and wet her nappy.

2006
TMX. Elmo, a special edition of the popular giggling toy, sells more on launch day than any other toy in history.

2009
Vivid Imaginations hires Lund to create Honey, My Baby Pony, one of the year’s top sellers.

2010
Lund (left) introduces the hydrogen-powered Variable Velocity Weapon System for police and military use.

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