The founder of Topper Toys, the “catalyst” of Transformers, Henry Orenstein, has passed away
Another legendary figure in the toy industry has passed away.
Henry Orenstein, a former Hasbro executive and founder of Topper Toys, suffered complications from COVID-19 on December 14 at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey. Orenstein’s wife Susie confirmed her passing to CNN over the weekend.
Orenstein was a Holocaust survivor who came to the United States and made his presence known in the toy industry where he spent over 30 years as an innovator and inventor. Orenstein is credited with building a larger presence for toys in grocery stores and launched legendary brands including the Johnny Lightning line of 1:64 scale diecast vehicles and the Johnny Seven OMA military weapon. .
As inventor, Orenstein held more than 100 patents, including one for the original line of G1 transformers. Although often mistakenly credited as a “creator” of the famous toy brand, Orenstein spotted the Japanese lines of Takara TOMY that inspired the Autobots and Decepticons. An oft-told story is that former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld once called Orenstein “the catalyst” for the Transformers brand and convinced the company to license Micro Change and Diaclone toys for the US market.
Following his adventures in the toy business, Orenstein built a legendary career in another field: professional poker.
He is credited with pioneering the way poker is shown on television, including the use of a special table surface and a camera that allows the home audience to see the hands players have. received.
In a 2016 interview with News week, Susie Orenstein said that Henry himself often sang to fall asleep with a familiar jingle: “Transformers! More than the eye can discern…”
Henry Orenstein was 98 years old.