Mario Clementoni, who founded the eponymous Italian toy-maker famous for its educational games, died on 10 October aged 87 at his home in Recanati, Italy.
Clementoni, who used to say that “you should never stop playing, especially when you get older”, was born in 1925 in Potenza Picena, a small town near Recanati.
After his schooling, he started working in a harmonica factory but left in 1956 to export musical instruments from Italy.
Three years later, during a visit to a toy fair in the US, he came across board games and toy pianos and decided to introduce them in Italy.
With his wife Matilda’s help, he started Clementoni, initially using his home garage as the company’s factory.
The first product, an electronic board game where participants had to guess popular songs, came out in 1963 and was a huge success. It was followed in 1967 by Sapientino, an educational game for children that has since been translated into 16 languages in more than 50 countries.
In 1970, after unveiling the company’s new 4,500-metre production facility, Clementoni signed a contract with Disney to produce games based on the American company’s cartoon characters.
During the following years, the family business, which today has revenues of more than €100 million, went on to produce puzzles and interactive games.
However, in the 1990s, Clementoni left the day-to-day management of the company to his children. The family business is currently headed by second-gen Giovanni, who serves as chief executive, while Stefano, Clementoni’s eldest child, is responsible for international operations. Daughter Patrizia and son Pier Paolo also work in the company, overseeing the human resource department and research and production respectively.