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ABC's American Inventor - Episode 7 Season 2 Live Blog and Show Recap

American Inventor Show Recap

Good evening, all. I'm back after a hiatus last week due to some family issues, but, rest assured, I'm ready to blog tonight. So tonight on ABC's American Inventor we have our six finalists and, finally, it's up to America to vote! We've heard what the judged have to say and now we get to give our two cents on who we think deserves the $1,000,000. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is what I've been waiting for all season! Get your dialing fingers ready! Tonight is the night.

p.s. Don't forget it's two hours!

Part 1:

So tonight we get to sit in on the focus groups, where all the inventors have to work and re-work their inventions with the $50,000 they won in their respective cities. It should be interesting to see how the inventions evolve with some focused work and financial backing. We have quite a spread of inventions--everything from a bike rack to a backless bra--so this is where we start to see what has hope and what doesn't. Let's recap the 6 finalists:

Elaine Cato -- the 6-in-1Backless Bra: Bra without a backstrap to allow full chested women to wear low back shirts and dresses.

Denise & George Tucker -- EZT4U: tea brewing system for conventional coffee makers.

Ricky DeRennaux - Custom Build Racers: race cars, airplains and other vehicles made from regular, folded paper but work with small motors.

Craig Forest and David Moeller - The Claw: pressurized "claw" that holds bikes--and potentially other products--from the ceiling.

Gregg Chavez - The Guardian Angel: water extinguisher system that puts out Christmas tree fires.

 

Joseph and Mike Miller - Wrap-a-Way Cabinet/Gift Wrapper: installable wrap organizer that keeps multiple types of wrap--aluminum, saran, etc. --organized and easily tear-able.

Right off the bat I think The Tuckers have the most practical and marketable idea, but I like DeRennaux's idea. But we'll see what the focus groups say...

Part 2:

Now we get to the focus groups so we can see what real people think.

 

DeRennaux: Well, these kids certainly didn't take to the Custom Build Racers. I agree with DeRennaux; I think they are just trying to be cool and say they wouldn't like it. But I guarantee if they started playing with these things they would start to like them. Young kids are far to immature to understand their own feelings. Sorry, I'm harsh (but I know from experience).

The Tuckers: I really thought people would take to the EZT4U, but the show doesn't make it seem so. We did only see two people give their opinions though, so I have to question the production. There were six people in that room and who knows what they said. But, given the Tuckers' comments, it couldn't have been that great.

The Millers: So far our best reviewed product in the focus group. Their wrap organizer is sure to be a hit with housewives and people that work in the kitchen a lot. Clearly they have a great shot at getting through with their focus group success. My mom said she'd buy it right now if she could, but I can do without their cocky attitude. They're just asking for it.

Forest and Moeller: I'm most interested to see what people say about The Claw. OK, the Millers are officially blacklisted. I don't care how good their invention is, they are jerks and I'm done with them.

Anyway, back to The Claw. Doesn't look good, does it. But, they make a good point, it is a very limited sample that come into things like this with their guards up. They are supposed to be critical so they are likely overdoing it. If I were an inventor I would just use it for fuel.

Gregg Chavez: From the outset it didn't seem like The Guardian Angel was going to do well due to liability issues, but the group came around. I guess Chavez is still in the running.

Elaine Cato: Bring in a group of large chested women and Cato is bound to get some good feedback, but that's not to say that her invention doesn't have inherent appeal. Clearly it works for her target audience so who am I to judge?

I think we have our three winners...

Part 3:

I think this would be the most intense part of the competition. Once you take your product and work with specialists, you have to be ready to keep your vision in tact while also being ready to compromise and trust the design team. Also how much though you've actually put into the product is revealed because you have to start making executive decisions about every little thing necessary to ensure a well designed product. I think Cato has the easiest task so far because she is dealing in apparel and it's really a matter of detail. Someone like The Tuckers who are dealing with a mechanical appliance have a little more work. Sad to see they hadn't done all their research on tea or coffee makers, and now they have to deal with a re-design. Ouch.

I do love this process though. I wish I had the skills of analysis to look a product and think about ways to improve it. It's amazing that a design team took the problem The Tuckers had and came up with a pretty viable solution. And though they end up with a prototype of sorts, it's something that we need to see in action, because Elaine Cato has already beaten them to the punch with an actual wearable bra, one that looks store ready at this point in the competition. I'd say she's the front runner right now.

Part 4:

I hope DeRennaux gets some redemption with his design team, because he got slaughtered by those youngins. And I was thinking the same thing about lowering the demographic. Hook em while they are young and you've got a big seller. And, finally, we get to see The Guardian Angel in action. Though it is definitely primitive, at least we see that it will work. I'm worried time constraints won't allow this one to get completely off the ground, but I've got my fingers crossed for him.

It's amazing how quickly these design teams work. Perhaps it just the editing of the show, but once they get the idea hammered out it seems like they are super quick to produce. It's becoming increasingly harder to side with one inventor, because they all have the same drive, ambition and, more or less, back-story. They all just need it so badly. I sort of wish the inventions would just speak for themselves because that's what we are trying to see, not emotions. Anyway...

OK, Chavez is about to get a final test run. I'm pretty excited here. OK, no go on the first try. We got the alarm to go, but no water. Here we go again...

And I'll say I'm pretty impressed. Besides a lot of smoke it seemed to work pretty well. Like I said, very hard to pick a winner right now. Ugh.

 

Part 5:

I don't like to see Craig and David so down on themselves. If they believe in their invention, they need to do their damndest to make sure it gets better. However, clearly The Miller Brothers don't need any help because they've "got it in the bag" as they say. But I'm glad to see they went with the stainless steel, because I feel it's more marketable. I hate when inventors are too conceited about their own ideas to take their design teams advice which ultimately leads to their demise. So maybe they gained a few points from me, but I'm still irked by their attitude.

I want to see Craig and David say more than just a "bike holder" because I think this could hold a bunch of things in a garage. They could up their marketability by branching out with their idea, but I think it looks great and I'd probably have one. Sadly, I would probably have a Wrap-a-Way too, despite my distaste for Joe and Mike. Am I being a baby? Am I forgetting the reality TV m.o.? Ya gotta have someone who gets under everyone's skin, right? Still, I like the sweet-old-guy-card better than the jackass-card.

 

Part 6:

And here we go with the pitches. This is the make or break point everyone.

Elaine Cato - Well she certainly is working that bra as she walks towards the judges. She looks great. Yeah yeah there are a little nerves, but who wouldn't nervous at this point? And, hey, we finally get to see what the "6-in-1" is all about. I have to say, I'm sold on this. I don't think she has any problem making it through. And I know Sarah--who got her start in the fashion industry--is loving this. Pat sort of isn't. He drilled her with those questions, but brings up a valid point: ya gotta know your stuff. She had them from the beginning, but might be losing a few of them. Thank God Sarah stepped in there. Who needs numbers? Are they blind? Are they men? They can't tell me they don't notice the larger-breasted population out there. Come on now.

 

Part 7:

Mike and Joe Miller - I guess everyone isn't a born performer. Mike and Joe have a great product here, but they sort of dropped the ball there. I think they tried too hard to present their product and not just be themselves with their product, which they obviously love. They were trying to be info-mercial spokesmen when they needed to just be happy-go-lucky guys. Their genuine attitudes would sell. Detect a hint of fakeness and you're finished. See, once they are out of presentation mode they are back to themselves and convincing me (despite my resistant efforts) that I like them. But I don't think they have anything to worry about.

Ricky DeRennaux - Ole Ricky here has the presentation skills needed to sell a product. And I like the new name "HT Racers." Also a nice touch with the judges heads attached to one of the cars. I also like how he has modified his idea to not necessarily include a computer, because it makes it much more accessible. Like I said, I'm so torn with these inventors. DeRennaux has done a lot with it and I honestly believe it would sell. But, put against the other inventions, I don't know if it would be the best seller. He does have the passion though, and the judges specifically asked for that.

 

Part 8:

Denise and George Tucker - I liked this invention in the beginning, now I'm not so sure. But can't you see these two sort of kooky characters in their own info-mercial? They've clearly rehearsed it enoug, and they have done their research which will get them major brownie points with the judges. However, they do need a lot of adapters which seems like a lot to add to a singular invention. Eh, they're happy and in love, very endearing. That could get them enough votes from America to put them through.

Craig Forest and David Moeller - Ultimately probably the weakest of the inventions I'd say. It just doesn't have the marketability that the others have. Oh! But they did adapt The Claw to hold other things, which I'm glad to see. But, yikes...that whole bring-in-the-little-girl bit didn't really work, especially considering she couldn't get it to work. And, OK guys, no need to provide statistics if they aren't stellar. 1 in 5? No matter what the latter number, if the former is 1, it's generally not that good I'd say. I get it that it still translates to 8 million people, but say that rather than provide a meager statistic. Though I was surprised to hear two of the judges say they would buy one right off the bat. They might be our darkhorse candidates here....

 

Part 9:

Our last finalist

Gregg Chavez: Is he going to demonstrate in the studio? Oooo, I like the inconspicuous present that holds the tank. Could I wrap it as I please? Anyway. That video is pretty impressive and his pitch was great. He got this far with $50,000, so think about what he could do with more funding? Any "problems" that the judges see could be remedied with a little more tweaking.

 

So my pick for the 3 finalists are Elaine Cato, The Miller Brothers and Gregg Chavez. Despite some shaky research, performance anxiety, and lack of sufficient testing, I think they have the best products. Now, whether or not that will be the deciding factor for the judges, I don't know. But those are my favorites.

 

Part 10:

Here we go...who's going to make it.

The Tuckers - In these final moments I'm so attached to them! They are so cute and sweet. Alas, they didn't make it, and they were genuinely disappointed! I might be a little heartbroken. But, hey, they've got each other.

Elaine Cato - Success! I'm 1 for 3 so far. But I called this one a long time ago

David and Craig - Yes, they were poised and prepared, but against the rest of the inventions it just didn't hold up. How about how shocked Craig (David? Craig? I don't know) was.

Gregg Chavez - Whew! I thought for a minute Pat was going strike him down. His whole "work every time" excuse doesn't hold up. He didn't have enough money or time to test that so cut the crap Pat. But he made it so I'm appeased.


Part 11:

The Miller Brothers or Ricky DeRennaux - It's quite a toss-up here. I'm still sticking with The Millers though....WHAT!? Wow, totally thought The Millers had this one! But, hey, karma is a bitch, right? When I think about it I'm not that surprised. There we two equally great products and Ricky clearly edged them out with his presentation skills and his passion. His attitude is amazing too. He'll certainly make sure people buy his stuff.

 

So we have our final three finalists:

Elaine Cato and the 6-in-1 Bra;

Gregg Chavez and the Guardian Angel;

and Ricky DeRennaux and his HT Racer. 

American Inventor FinalistsAmerican Inventor Finalists

Here is my conundrum: we have three very different products that service very different needs. The bra is something out of necessity. The Guardian Angel is for survival. And the HT Racer is for entertainment. How do you choose between the three? Instinctively, you want to choose The Guardian Angel because it saves lives, but the others clearly have their place in the American market. If I had to say one was more innovative than the others it would be DeRennaux's racers. Cato's bra I think edges out the marketability factor. So, as you see faithful viewers, it just comes down to what you yourself are looking for out there. As for who I voted for...well, I'm going to keep that to myself and remain an unbiased viewer :)

Now, go vote for your favorite:

To vote for Elaine Cato, dial 1-866-U-PICK-01 or text the number "1" to 97979.

To vote for Greg Chavez, dial 1-866-U-PICK-02 or text the number "2" to 97979.

To vote for Ricky DeRennaux, dial 1-866-U-PICK-03 or text the number "3" to 97979.

Thanks for joining me, everyone. See you next week for the finale.


Seth Plattner
Featured Blogger
Inventor Spot Team

 

Comments
Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Car Focus Group

Yep--I agree.  Kids don't want to play with "cars" anymore. 

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Selection of Focus Groups

I wonder how they selected the participants.  A group of five people doesn't sound like enough to be meaningful.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

That "Passion" $hit Again

Wish they'd quit it already.  This is going to be a Springer show.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Three Eliminations

Any guesses?  The hook, the cars, and ?

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

..and the EZT4U

I forgot.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

The CATO Bra Seems to be doing well

And it would have mass marketability.  BUT how embarrassing as THE American Inventor:  A Bra.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Pea Brain

Or TeaBrain?  I can't see everyone buying that thing even IF it does work.

Jul 25, 2007
by AmericanCynic

Arrogance

Man, those Wrapaway brothers are so arrogant that they completely tick me off. Maybe I'll vote against them just because they're so arrogant. EZT4U is history. This is not the idea they pitched in the auditions. Everything's changed, even the awful original name. And if I ever see that disgusting couple playing kissy-face again, it'll be too soon.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

What Kids Say

I think kids might be inclined to not say their true feelings to be "cool", but I doubt that they could hold in their true feelings if they were face-to-face with a really cool product that they actually wanted.  Their impulsivity would overpower their desire to be "cool" and so I think they really did NOT like the cars.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Dis-reguard Angel

It didn't work the first time.....

Jul 25, 2007
by AmericanCynic

Guardian Angel

I want to know how they were activating that during the first successful test. It didn't look like the fire was going hot enough to melt his "plug." Quite honestly, I don't think two gallons will do much if the tree is "fully involved," as firefighters say. And what's with him wearing his firefighter gear? Talk about hamming it up. Lots of guys there in street clothes, plus local firefighters authorized to put out the fire.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Christmas Tree Disasters

Aren't most of the problems due to tree fall-overs?  (Plus, of course, electrical problems.)  If the tree falls over, the guardian angel would be rendered useless.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Pea Brainers

still have each other.....

Bye

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Yada Yada Yada, Passion Matters:

NOT with a "mass marketable" bra.....

Jul 25, 2007
by bottleslingguy
bottleslingguy's picture

Peter smirked and double

Peter smirked and double blinked when he gave the Claw dudes the boot. Believe me, he enjoyed that thoroughly. 

"The real difficulty in changing any enterprise lies not in developing new ideas but in escaping from the old ones." Maynard Keynes

Oh yeah! Please check out my  Bottle Sling - Invention Gallery .

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Bet the Claw guys

regret using that girl in their demonstration.  (Not that she was the only thing that blew it for them, but she didn't help.)

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Did any catch the statistic Gregg stated?

I thought I heard him say that there were 600 million HOUSEHOLDS in the U.S. that celebrate Christmas, but I either heard wrong or his statistic is WAY OFF.

Jul 25, 2007
by bottleslingguy
bottleslingguy's picture

The girl highlighted a major

The girl highlighted a major flaw with the whole Claw concept. It goes to show how the simplest design is the most reliable. Start adding components like trigger mechanisms, springs and hinges and you're just asking for problems.

It was an over-engineered take on a standard hook. They complained how hard it was to get a bike down off a static hook and proceeded to give us two hooks that move after we (still have to) lift the bike the same height while at the same time hitting the target trigger in the center. Why would I pay $40 for that? 

"The real difficulty in changing any enterprise lies not in developing new ideas but in escaping from the old ones." Maynard Keynes

Oh yeah! Please check out my  Bottle Sling - Invention Gallery .

Jul 25, 2007
by bottleslingguy
bottleslingguy's picture

Sara sure got the point

Sara sure got the point across to the bra woman that she'd better start crying pretty soon or she was going home. Her main complaint with the invention was the lack of the inventor's passion (I hate that word)? Since when  does that make or break a good product? 

"The real difficulty in changing any enterprise lies not in developing new ideas but in escaping from the old ones." Maynard Keynes

Oh yeah! Please check out my  Bottle Sling - Invention Gallery .

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

xmas tree fire extinguisher

There are several thousand people killed in fires each year, and of those 14 people per year die as a result of Christmas Tree fires. If you just water your tree, it won't catch on fire

Jul 25, 2007
by chiasmus

Millers

You guys have to realize that they edited this show. They showed what they wanted of Mike and Joe and left out a lot of the other drama with other contestants.

For instance, the clip they showed of Mike screwing up his presentation? That was dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsal.

All I'm saying is that the Miller were confident, perhaps a little cocky, but the show made them out to be jerks when they really aren't.

Yeah. I'm a Miller. And we are obnoxious, but we aren't jerks. Well. Not like that.

Dad voted for the bra, by the way.

Jul 25, 2007
by AmericanCynic

A bad season

It's come down to the least bad of the inventions. The HT Racers aren't going to fulfill the promise Ricky gave. They won't educate any kids about engineering. (Sorry, Seth. He always said it was about educating kids, not entertaining them.) They don't get to design anything. It's all pre-designed and the only thing they get to do is choose the "paint job" and assemble the paper product. I don't think that plane was or will be radio-controlled. It's strictly throw it and let it go where it will.

Boy, am I glad the Tuckers and the Millers are history. Both irritated me no end with their smooching or cockiness. Question: after you flip open door on the Wrap-A-Way, how do you keep the materials accessible when you close the door? I don't think the cut edges line up automatically, especially with the clingy plastic wrap. And guys, you shouldn't have paid that woman to try to teach you to act. I'd ask for my money back.

Chavez should be forbidden by law from ever wearing his firefighter's suit on camera again, unless there's a real fire in the studio.

Peter had a point about the Claw. What else should people hang from it if it's not for bikes only? Would you buy a $40 gadget to hold a shovel? Hey, guys, how about figuring out why the other 4 out of 5 serious riders won't buy your Claw? Like maybe they know of better, cheaper, more reliable, easier to use products already on the market?

Jul 25, 2007
by chiasmus

Answer to a question

Cynic, with the version that I have, the material simply rests up against the blade. And it cuts straight as long as you pull it straight. Even with the cling wrap. There *is* a reason that it has a patent. The video that they showed during the final pitch would have explained all of that, but that got edited out.

 And no. They aren't actors. Mike was a truck driver and Joe is an engineer.  I have my own opinion on why the show edited it the way that they did.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous Alex Bell (not verified)

Two Hour Voting

Two hours doesn't sound like very much time to allocate for voting.  I wonder if voters had difficulty getting through or if A.I. phones can accommodate everyone.

And what's the point of allowing up to 5 votes per method?  People (and their relatives) with a vested interest in winning would be the ones most willing to pay the 50 cents text messaging fee five times whereas the unattached/unbiased TV viewer would more than likely only be willing to pay (and vote) once.

Jul 25, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

CATO Crumbled Under Pressure

The judges' questions about statistics/proof that the bras would sell really shocked her!  Even without statistics, she should/could have been able to spontaneously give a better sales pitch.   

She wasn't alone, though, in being unprepared for the kinds of questions the judges posed.   All contestants were given advance warning that they needed to give a convincing presentation in order to prove themselves worthy of moving forward and possibly being awarded the $1 million prize.

Jul 26, 2007
by AmericanCynic

Wrap-A-Way

I wasn't referring to the original version. The stainless version has a door with slots in it. When you open that door, the slots move far away from the materials. There's just no way you can ensure the previously cut edge remains aligned with the slot when you close the door again. Especially the plastic wrap, which will stick to the roll, not the door slot. It'd be like having Scotch tape that didn't stick to the cutter on the dispenser. That would immediately wrap itself up on the roll. 

Jul 26, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

The Millers!

Ummm... let me get this straight... the Millers boys have invented a wax / foil / cling wrap dispenser... like the ones you can buy on eBay for $10 (search for "wax paper dispenser").  BOTH my grans had one of these in her kitchen. Everybody over 50 has likely seen this before... and NO one on this show picked-up on this? I'm just saying! 

Hey!  Wait a minute!  I just invented... bottled water! Gimme money!!!

Jul 26, 2007
by Anonymous Chris Kringle (not verified)

Height of the Christmas Tree

I wonder If anyone tested the effectiveness of the Guardian Angel on different heights.  I'd guess that it would be more effective on short trees, so what about those extra tall ones?  There would probably have to be several sizes of Guardian Angel, just like the Pea Brain.

Jul 26, 2007
by chiasmus

Wrap-A-Way

Cynic, I understand what you are asking. I honestly don't know. I assume that was demonstrated when they did their actual pitch, but since the pitch was never aired, I don't know. I haven't seen the new version yet.

Jul 26, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Love Birds (Denise and George)

I bet they were both brewing after the show and arguing now and pissed at one another.  Denise probably blames George and George probably blames Denise for their demise on the show.  

What I never understood is why they didn't just "invent" a new teapot/maker instead of trying to make 7-8 adapters for $10 plastic coffee pots!!!  The adapters would probably cost more than simply buying a new machine that made EZ tea.

Hey, at least they have each other.  Bet they could use a Therapy Buddy to tell them that "Everything is going to be all right".