Millions of people were glued to the TV throughout the balloon boy saga and Bud Kays was one of them. When it turned out that the kid was never in any danger, Kays had two thoughts in his head. The first was the realization that it was definitely a hoax. The second was all business. He had plans to turn this crazy media phenomenon into a lucrative new product: the bubble boy costume… just in time for Halloween.
Kays is the managing director of Plantraco Microflight, a Canadian company that sells electronics and novelty items like radio-controlled model airplanes. But it was a discontinued item in his catalogue that Kays thought of while watching the television that day: the Twin-Turbofan flying saucer.
This item, which has since been replaced by the Microblimp (see it here), offers users the unique opportunity to steer a helium-filled balloon around their yard via remote control. Yet more importantly, it’s a dead ringer for the hot air balloon that millions of Americans watched on TV. And Kays had thousands of these leftover balloons lying around his warehouse.
“We just re-tasked the components a bit to make the new product,” Kays said in an interview with MainStreet. “So we were able to liquidate old stock while bringing in loads of new potential customers."
The trick, Kays said, was to figure out how to turn his new product into a marketable costume for Halloween. Kays decided the best thing to do was to be playful, naming his new product the Balloon Boy Hoax Kit. Customers are told to take a cardboard box (you know, like the one the kid was hiding in) and wear it on their head, while holding the balloon. The balloon and gondola are sized so that customers can carry it around with them. And Kays offers nametags so customers can walk around saying they are Falcon (the balloon boy in question). The product sells for $20 plus shipping.
“You walk around with that and jokes will just start flying,” he said. “That’s what people want from a Halloween costume.” In a way, it was divine luck – the balloon boy incident happened just two weeks before Halloween, right as many Americans start desperately hunting for a clever costume.