When I was driving my daughter home from school last week she told me that she had won an anti-littering art competition and that her artwork would feature on a local calendar. I was a very proud dad. When she further explained that a part of her prize was to get a tour of the Hasbro factory in Waterford I was even more thrilled for her. When she said she could bring a friend and 1 adult I felt a wave of excitement flow through my body. Maybe it might be me she would pick. When she told me I was the one she was going to bring I shouted…
I am 38 years old and have passed the Hasbro Factory every single day wondering what goes in that mysterious building that produces the board games that we all know and love like Monopoly, Operation, Kerplunk and so many more favourites. Now that I was going to find out first hand I felt that bit of excitement you feel as a little kind when you find out you’re going on a school tour. I felt like Grandpa Joe out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and I sang “I’ve got a golden ticket all the way home in the car!”
We had to wait over a week before going, the days went really slow. Slowest few days EVER… but eventually it came around. We (my Daughter, her brother and I) arrived at security with 10 minutes to spare and went into reception and waited with the other parents. We put on our safety goggles and made our way up to the induction room, with our guide Francie, who was very friendly and great fun.
When we got to the room we were told about how the games were produced at different times and how if games were needed in Smyths in Waterford they had to be first shipped to the UK and then shipped back because they don’t manage the distribution across Europe, just the supply. We got a baaaieeg of Tayto each and a mineral (Waterford style), and the adults got a cuppa tay and a bicky. The kids where shown the lovely calendars and some lovely words of encouragement were said to them and there was a photo op and then we were ready to take the tour of the facility.
First we went through the plastic moulding section. We saw pieces of the connect four frame being moulded and separated and get automatically put on conveyor belt with the help of robot arms. Across the aisle was the plastic base of operation being made and a worker inserting the board with the unfortunate man whose organs are pulled out by kids all over the continent. We saw a man assembling the pieces of the Kerplunk game into the box, the spiral, the marbles, the straws, all there.
Then we went on to an area where boards were being printed for monopoly and other games before we went to see the automated store room where a fork lift on tracks retrieved items 70 feet in the air. The we went on to the cool money printing facility. The place where the famous monopoly money is made. The kids all got a fist full of dollars, and I stood there doing randomly doing Clint Eastwood impressions that nobody got.
Then we went further down the production line to see a full view of the factory, which was not as busy as usual because this is the quiet time of the year for Hasbro seeing as Santa has just been and gone. Even still there were games being made left right and centre. We saw the final stages of the operation being packed. The box having the label stuck on and glazed, the plastic boards we saw earlier being put into the box with the instructions and the boxes being stacked.
Finally, we went upstairs again, back to the induction room and the kids awere thrilled to be given three games each. Daniel got Battleship, Guess who and Taboo and Sian got Monopoly, Frozen Frustration and Taboo also. They were delighted with themselves and I was too.
Thanks a million to Hasbro for doing this for the kids of the city. It’s a lovely calendar and hopefully people will pick it up and help spread the message and keep our beautiful city tidy in 2015. Here’s a short video of parts of the tour…