From 2-D Drawing to 3-D Toy

By Teresa Anicola
Courier-Post Staff

While out shopping for Christmas presents, chances are you saw a product that was deigned by Joseph Pizzo Sr. and his team of model makers.

Owner of Rapid Models & Prototypes Inc. of Runnamede, Pizzo creates prototypes of products, everything from brooms and mops for Quickie Manufacturing Corp. of Cinnaminson to Super Soakers and foam dart shooters, footballs and basketballs for the former Larami International Ltd. toy company of Mount Laurel.

“His work was above average and he was very reliable,” said Mel Mednick, former vice president of research and development for Larami until the company was taken over by Hasbro Toys this year.

According to Mednick, model makers are essential to the toy business.

“They’re very beneficial to toy makers. We give them a picture or drawing and then we go back and forth until we have a finished model,” said Mednick. “Based on what they do, we do all our engineering drawings off the models they create and build the molds to make the toys.”

Pizzo, a Cherry Hill resident for 32 years, is a trained engineer and has owned Rapid Models for the past decade.

“I brought it into modern techniques and equipment and purchased a prototype machine that takes computer-aided design and turns it into a product,” said Pizzo, 63.

Although the computerized machine helps in creating products such as foam balls, his skilled model makers are essential to his business.

“They have to be artsy and also be an engineering type. They take a two-dimensional drawing and create a three-dimensional model from it. They also have to be good painters and sculptors. It takes three to four years’ training to be really good,” said Pizzo.

If you stopped at Macy’s at 34th Street and Broadway in New York last year during the holiday season, you may have noticed its 75th anniversary day parade display, which ran from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Pizzo’s worked for Rob Reyers of Claus, Reyers & Co. of Haddonfield, who was the subcontractor that designed the window. Pizzo was hired to to sculpt, cast and paint 1,600 miniature figures of diverse parade spectators for the display from artists’ sketches.

“He pulled off a small miracle for Macy’s last year. He created 1,600 pieces which were hand painted and passed quality control in just 40 days. He did an excellent job,” said Reyers.

Another of Rapid Model’s clients is Quickie Manufacturing Company of Cinnaminson. Pizzo creates protoypes for a variety of the company’s products, including its mops and brooms. He and his model makers are currently working on prototypes of products the company will display at the Housewares Show in Chicago in January.

“He’s on the leading edge of what we’re doing,” said Robert Petner, director of new product development for Quickie. “The service that Rapid Models provides helps our company bring products to market in a timely fashion.”

For Pizzo, the most rewarding part of his work comes in seeing the finished product.

“The nice part about my job is that I get to see the stuff every day,” said Pizzo. “Every day I can walk into a store and see the things that I made.”

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