Pennwell web 150 150

Toothbrush training toy aims for Walmart shelves

March 8, 2012
BrushyBall is a Toothbrush Training Toy, and one of 1,300 entries in Walmart's 'Get on the Shelf' entrepreneur contest.
Can a sink top toy help children learn to brush their teeth? Michigan inventor Robert Malen thinks so, and his product, BrushyBall – The Toothbrush Training Toy, may be on its way to Walmart shelves with the help of online votes through the big box retailer’s "Get on the Shelf" contest. BrushyBall is one of 1,300 products that qualified for the contest out of nearly 3,000 entries. Walmart will select three products, based on consumer votes, to receive manufacturing, marketing, and logistic support in addition to shelf space in Walmart stores. The online voting period runs from March 7 to April 3, and then a final round of voting on the top 10 products will run from April 11 to 24.The idea for BrushyBall formed when Malen’s daughter was learning to brush her teeth. “I noticed three basic challenges that children face at some point in the learning process: lack of motivation, short attention span, and brushing only some teeth,” Malen says. To help children overcome these challenges, BrushyBall does more than look cute and hold toothbrushes. The innovative product speaks with a sense of humor and simple directions while six sections of teeth light up to guide a brusher through a complete brushing routine.BrushyBall has been a truly local endeavor in the Detroit suburbs. The design process and initial production included work in the 3-D Prototyping Lab at University of Michigan. A laid off automotive engineer was hired to transfer design details into digital CAD files, and local patent attorneys from top IP firm Harness, Dickey and Pierce were employed to fine-tune the four related patents.Walmart’s "Get on The Shelf" contest presents a tremendous opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. Malen says, “It is quite a task, as a fledgling business, to garner purchase commitments from major retailers. We have had a lot of success connecting with the dental industry, specialty toy stores, and special needs consumers, but to hit the kind of order volume that can sustain large production we need partnership with a big retailer.”To vote for BrushyBall, go to

To read more about the product, go to

To comment on this article, go to