Mr. Brand was also responsible for another Aurora runaway hit, the Skittle-Bowl game. Derek took an old English pub game and modernized and Americanized it. The popularity of the game resulted in an extensive line of “Skittle” games for Aurora.
After leaving Aurora in the early ‘70s, Derek started his own design firm and developed many toy and hobby items for several topnotch toy companies. One that harkened back to his Aurora Model Motoring days was the US1 Electric Trucking system for Tyco. Rather than race cars, these US1 sets featured trucks that could be loaded and discharged of their cargo around various points in the track circuit.
Derek’s two sons, Derek Roger and Ken, joined their father in the design firm and continued the business after Derek was stricken with Alzheimer’s. Sadly, Derek lost his battle with the disease on May 12, at age 85.
I was very fortunate to know this wonderful man and to work with him for several years at Aurora. He was my boss. He was the man who showed me how to take a block of white pine and make it look like a Porsche 904. He was the mentor who raised his voice in displeasure over my actions only once. (I fell behind schedule sculpting the Willys Gasser pattern.) We worked long hours together to meet near impossible deadlines. His achievements inspired me to push myself harder, to do the best job possible.
I first met Derek in October 1965. I was pursuing a long held dream of working for a model kit manufacturer. I went to Aurora and showed my mechanical drawings and photos of my models to the Director of Research & Development, Derek Brand. Towards the end of that interview, Derek changed my life forever by asking a simple question, “Can you start on Monday?”
Thank you, Mr. Brand, for allowing me to make a small contribution to this well loved hobby. Thank you for all the joy and happiness that you’ve brought to millions. Your creations will endure for many years to come. You will not be forgotten.