Our Mission & Beginnings
Our mission is simple, to pass on the tradition of outdoor adventure to our next generation.
Whether we're hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, or just wandering about our own backyard, we know being outside and experiencing nature has positive lasting effects on us as adults. We start out young with imaginative play like pretending we're on safari with the family dog or navigating the shark infested waters of the living room floor. Gradually we move into learning new skills like shooting a bow, staking a tent, or casting a line and setting a hook. Before long we're true outdoor adventurers ready to explore every corner of the globe. When we immerse ourselves in the great outdoors we take ownership in its preservation. We become land stewards, wildlife conservationists, and caretakers of our natural world.
About Creative Outdoor Products, Inc.
Creative Outdoor Products, Inc. is an American family owned company located in the heartland of Indiana. Dave Ranard of Crawfordsville, Indiana founded the company in 1997 and our first Hunter Dan action figure was sold in the Cabela's Christmas catalog that same year. Dave had come up with the idea of Hunter Dan after finding some old action figures in a closet at his parents home. He shared his idea with his friend and later business partner, Todd Farris, over lunch at Pizza Hut in Crawfordsville. A lady eavesdropping on the conversation leaned over to them and told them that if that toy were available she would buy one. That was our first nod of approval from the public.
In 2001, Todd Farris of Greencastle, Indiana formally joined the company as co-owner and the product lines branched out into shooting toys and youth archery and found distribution worldwide in the outdoor retail market. Todd purchased the company in it's entirety in 2016 and is proud to say that twenty years later we're still an American family owned company that is going strong and ready to meet the next generation of young outdoor adventurers!
Fun Facts About Our Beginnings
- Almost all of our original animal figure prototypes were sculpted by the late Wildlife Artist, Jo Lauctes of Crawfordsville, Indiana
- The original prototype of Hank was sent to Cabela's for a catalog shoot. He apparently liked it so much in Sydney, Nebraska he never returned. We don't tease them too much about this!
- Todd made the prototypes for the duck and goose calls from wooden chopsticks using a small dremel tool to whittle them down to 1/9 scale and coloring markers to make them look realistic. The production duck & goose calls are made of plastic and look just like the original handmade samples.
- Hunter Education Instructors nationwide purchased Hunter Dan and his accessories to demonstrate safe hunting practices.
- When the prototypes for our World Class Whitetails Collection were being made, replicas of the real antlers were shipped to our office in giant crates so Jo could sculpt them in 1/9th scale. Crate deliveries always caused a lot of excitement at the office! Pictured below is our original "Beatty Buck" from 2002.
- Michael Engelmeyer of Great Outdoor Studios did Hunter Dan's very first photo shoot. These realistic pictures of our humble little toys turned out so great we still use many of them today. Can you see the "rub" on the tree in the photo above? Great work, Mike! You're the best!
- Hunter Dan & Hunter Ann have been featured atop many of outdoor couple's wedding cakes. Honest! We have pictures!
- Our Hunter Dan Goose Hunter was released in 2002. Because he was outfitted in all white snow camo many people thought he went with our Polar Bear that came out several years later.
- Three faithful Hunter Dan fans have written to us so many times over the years with comments and suggestions that we miss hearing from them now that they're older. (John - Your animal ideas were great, sorry we never got around to making an elephant for you)
- Our Hunter Dan Thunderbolt Bolt Action Rifle was designed to operate like a real bolt action rifle so parents could teach proper gun handling and firearm safety. It is also the most played with toy in our office.