New Pocket Disc Debuts at ASTRA -- It's the Smartest Thing You Will Ever Throw

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A little bit of providence and a flick of the wrist was all it took to conceive a new pocket disc launched at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Annual Marketplace & Academy. The disc, called a Phd, began as a third grader's hand work project and evolved into a 100% cotton fair trade toy that retailers snatched up during the two day toy show. The Phd is similar to a Frisbee®, but with a whole new spin.

ASTRA has been wonderful to work with, and this toy show has been a fantastic venue to launch the Phd. The level of interest from the retailers even exceeds our expectations.

A little bit of providence and a flick of the wrist was all it took to conceive a new pocket disc, called the Phd, launched at this summer's American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Annual Marketplace & Academy.

The Phd is an indoor flying disc. Extremely easy to catch, it is suitable for all children over three years old. When the Phd is thrown it spins across a room by catching air under its lip much like a traditional Frisbee®. But when caught, it collapses into one's hand and can be stuffed into a pocket.

The Phd was extremely well received at the ASTRA show, with twenty six retailers placing orders at the two day toy show. Co-founder Patrick Groft professed, "ASTRA has been wonderful to work with, and this toy show has been a fantastic venue to launch the Phd. The level of interest from the retailers even exceeds our expectations."

According to Kathleen McHugh, ASTRA President, "We are thrilled that Phd Productions has joined ASTRA and chose the ASTRA Annual Marketplace to launch their Phd Pocket Disc. What a wonderful new product! Our retailer members are very enthusiastic as evidenced by the buzz it created at the toy show. "

It all began when 8-year-old Savanna Groft tried to crochet a placemat for a handwork class assignment. Instead she made a prototype of the indoor disc, now called the Phd.

"When I was making it I put too many double stitches in the crochet around the edges and it curled in on the end," Savanna said. "When I was finally done with it, we tried to make it flat but it still curled in."

And so the place mat of sorts - looking more like a small crocheted Frisbee ® - found its place on the living room table for almost a year, until the Larsen family came over for dinner

Dad Chris Larsen spotted the placemat and, on a whim, picked it up and threw it. It sailed across the living room and the Phd was born.

"I remember distinctly that Savanna was in the room," Larsen recalled.

"I was a little bit embarrassed -- I was thinking, maybe I just slighted this child's creation by picking it up and throwing it."

But Savanna didn't mind, in fact before long everyone was throwing the crocheted disc back and forth. And that night Dads Larsen and Groft were planning the creation of Phd Productions, LLC. (http://www.livelovecatch.com)

"Once we had this idea we immediately began thinking of where the skills were to make the Phds," Larsen said. Some research pointed to the Mayans of Guatemala, who have been weaving and crocheting bright patterns for centuries and who bring a deep cultural talent for handwork to the Phds. Each village specializes in a few patterns. The patterns of a village are passed down with the generations.

"The crocheting craft is actually an indigenous skill in Mayan culture," Larsen said. "We recognized immediately that this is helping maintain traditions and providing employment. So, we are pleased to be working with a longstanding importer who has specialized in fair trade production."

The Phd was formally introduced to children at a North Carolina elementary school this spring. Students there are using the Phds to play dodge ball, push up hockey, and develop soccer skills. The Phd can substitute for a ball or Frisbee® in almost any game.

The Physical Education teacher at the school, Russell Westbrook, said, "Nowadays you're always worried about keeping everybody safe," Westbrook said. "I just can't think of a way that these could hurt someone."

When Groft is asked what Phd stands for, he replies, "What do you think it means?" When no answer is forthcoming, he says, "Well, when it's used inside it's a Perfectly Harmless Device that Prevents Home Destruction because it won't knock vases or lamps over."

So far Groft and Larsen have a list of 45 possible meanings for Phd, but Savanna chimes in with her interpretation of the name, "The toy is so smart it deserves a Phd!"

Speaking of Savanna, her handwork class has finished crocheting placemats, and she is now working on knitting a cotton sock with four needles. What the future holds for this would be sock is a chapter yet to unfold.

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Rachel Larsen
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