Create A Castle: Looking at sandcastles differently
NEW MILFORD — Kevin Lane fished a straw out of a small mesh bag and gently blew the excess sand off the top of a castle he had just built. It was the artist in him making sure his creation was perfect.
Lane and his wife, Laurie, visited Lynn Deming Park in their home town of New Milford last week to demonstrate their patent-pending sandcastle-making system. Create A Castle, the name of their newly formed LLC, is in its early stages of production, but the Lanes and their children have spent countless hours brainstorming and testing the system.
“Anytime we were at the beach building something, we’d always have people and families come up and engage us,” Lane said. “This is a completely different way of looking at sand sculptures.”
The black prototype molds they use to build their sand creations will soon give way to the final product, consisting of beachy-blue tools that match the Create A Castle T-shirts the Lanes had printed.
They expect manufacturing to be done by late summer or early fall. They will then fulfill their pre-orders, pitch the product to retailers and perhaps target some overseas markets.
The first shipment may miss this summer beach season, or catch just the tail end of it, but Lane is quick to point out that the system works in the snow as well.
Preorders, with discounts to Connecticut residents, may be made at createacastle.com. Lane said there are deeper discounts available to New Milford residents.
Lane saw the need for a better way to make a sandcastle while visiting Laguna Beach in California. As he observed beach-goers, he noticed children’s attention spans rarely lasted long enough to finish a castle with their father or mother. He recalled from his own experience that his children gave up about half an hour into one of his “four- or five-hour castles.”
Also, the fill-from-the-bottom buckets used by children often result in crumbled towers that further frustrates youngsters, he said.
“They throw the tools to the side and lose interest,” he said. “This will entertain them longer because they will get results.”
How it works
Create A Castle molds, which are open on both ends, are placed on the sand and filled from the top. The builder adds water and packs the sand as necessary. Instead of lifting the mold off the sand, the builder unhinges the mold and pulls it away from the sculpture. The brick designs are built into the mold.
After making the 10-inch base, users can add a decorative corbel on top. The corbel can then be jazzed up with battlements, which are made and placed individually. Lane considered designing a mold that would make several battlements at a time, but he opted for the single battlement mold.
“I want kids to be creative and make as many as they want and place them where they want,” he said.
Create A Castle currently offers three kits ranging in price from $19.99 to $29.99. Lane will create more molds with different designs as the business grows, he said.
Building a castle nearly three feet tall will take users about 15 minutes, Lane said, once they get used to the process and learn how much water is needed to add to the sand.
Building on an idea
Kevin Lane owns his own web production and design company called Code Hounds. Developing a physical product and protecting his intellectual property is proving to be a different type of business.
First, the Lanes had to find out if the idea was already out there. After a six-month patent search, they found nothing like their idea already on the market. They formed an LLC and have applied for utility patents and trademarks.
“We’re protecting ourselves the best we can,” Lane said. “If I can make this my full-time job, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.”