TimeOut Toy Box promotes positive behavior, screen-free time

October 15, 2018 | 3:12 am

Updated October 16, 2018 | 7:19 am

Photo by Owensboro Times

Paul Lehecka has always been an idea guy — whether that meant assessing difficult situations with the Owensboro Fire Department or acquiring the best inventory for his auto parts business. So, the moment he walked into his 7-year-old daughter’s messy bedroom, the inspiration for his latest invention was born.

“The seed of the idea came when I opened the door to my daughter’s room and it looked like a toy bomb exploded,” Lehecka said. “As a parent, you pick up toys until you are blue in the face. I thought it would be so great if I had a toy box, with all clear sides and a clear top, so the stuff they left out could be locked up until they cleaned up and could get it back.”

And, so, Lehecka began to set the pieces in motion. He knew the original concept would consist of an actual toy box on the bottom, but from there he began brainstorming with two of his cousins, Daviess County Middle School teacher, Barbie Boling, and U.S. Army veteran and West Point graduate, Brandon Carlson. Boling invited some of her colleagues to look at a prototype and offer ideas, while Carlson acted as a sounding board and helped provide a clearer vision moving forward.

“He has been the ear of every one of my ideas,” Lehecka said. “He’s who I call and who keeps me on a straight path to help this come to life.”

Lehecka built the original prototype out of wood in his garage. As the idea developed, the size was reduced to something smaller that could fit onto a counter or dresser without taking up too much space.

In 2015, Lehecka sent the idea to a patent attorney and, although the bottom of the product currently states “patent pending,” the patent was recently approved.

6-year-old Ella Newman completing chore tags. | Photo by Owensboro Times

His idea then saw the addition of colored tags on the outside with labeled coins for various household chores and responsibilities that could be checked off when completed. Once completed, the child would receive the keys to unlock their electronic device or special item that was secured inside.

Aside from encouraging positive behavior and giving children a break from their electronics, Lehecka found a benefit for children of all abilities with the tactile stimulation and hand-eye coordination involved in hanging and removing the colored tags.

“I have a nephew that has autism,” Lehecka said. “The further we got along with this, the more we realized this could have positive implications for people with special needs.”

From there, Lehecka tried to find a factory that could produce the quality product he wanted to deliver at a price point he felt customers would be comfortable with.

“I could not get it made in the USA for a reasonable price that I felt people would be willing to pay,” Lehecka said.

Lehecka has been traveling to China since 2009 looking for companies to manufacture parts for his auto parts business. On one of those trips, he began working with a toy factory, which helped to create one of his first designs with a 3-D printer.

In 2017, he and his wife traveled to China exclusively for the Toy Box, thinking they would see a working product needing just a few minor color and detail adjustments. Instead, they had to retool the molds at least six times, remake the pegs at least four times, ensure the quality of the stickers, the print and the durability of the plastic tags.

Photo courtesy of Paul Lehecka

“I’m not Hasbro. I’m one person with four kids,” Lehecka said. “To come up with something from concept to production was a lot more than I expected it to be.”

Last week, Lehecka returned from his 18th trip to China. Although he said he has experienced a lot of obstacles, headaches and sleepless nights, he is happy with the completed product that is now being boxed and shipped.

While Lehecka is looking forward to the many creative uses customers will dream up for the Toy Box, he wants to offer the reminder that “time out” can also mean time away from electronics for the entire family and time in on family time.

“I think it’s something a lot of people are going to want in their house because it’s going to help solve a lot of problems,” Lehecka said.


Lehecka is expecting to have The TimeOut Toy Box stocked in his warehouse by the middle of November, in anticipation of Black Friday. While customers will be able to order the TimeOut Toy Box on Amazon.com, he hopes to offer Owensboro Times readers a discount, including low to no cost shipping that allows customers to pick the product up in Whitesville for holiday gift-giving.

October 15, 2018 | 3:12 am

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