“Trick-Tac-Toe” is a new game by Cortex Toys that blends the classic game of Tic-tac-toe with the recent “bottle flipping” craze. “Trick-Tac-Toe” is your typical Tic-tac-toe with a twist (or, rather, flip). Using cups or water bottles, just set ‘em up, aim and flip! With a reverse side that’s even more challenging, try to out trick your friends with hours of flipping action. This versatile game board is great for parties and fun for the whole family.

“Trick-Tac-Toe”is actually the invention of Dr. John Cowan, a practicing Neurosurgeon with the Harbin Clinic. He has a BS in Physics from Davidson College and Doctorate of Medicine from John Hopkins. He completed a neurosurgery residency at the University of Michigan. He has eight patents for medical devices and five spinal implants available to patients around the world. He has over fifty publications in the medical literature. He was Captain and four-year starter on his football team while in college and won the prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship, the Goodwin-Exxon award, Computers in Physics Magazine software competition and was a Stuart Scholar. While in residency he won two prestigious Resident research awards and was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson post-doctoral scholarship in Population Health. He was valedictorian of his High School.

Dr. John Cowan is married with four children (all budding inventors). His wife is an Anesthesiologist whom he met while giving a tour in Medical School. He serves as an Elder and Sunday School teacher at First Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia and believes spreading the good news is essential in every endeavor. He is President of the Rome Area Medical Society and on the Boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Rome, the Rome/Floyd Chamber of Commerce, End Slavery Georgia, and the Georgia Neurosurgical Society. He is a proud member of Rome Rotary Club.

Recently, Dr. John Cowan discussed his invention and more via an exclusive interview.


Dr. John Cowan invented “Trick-Tac-Toe.”

Meagan Meehan (MM): You started out as a neurosurgeon, so how did you go from that career to one of a toy designer?

John Cowan (JC): My children essentially came to me one day and asked if they could start inventing things too. We discussed several options and realized that toys would be the most appropriate fit. Toys truly require creativity and ingenuity while having the purpose of creating fun and making people happy. All ages and backgrounds can have a part in inventing toys and the process of toy creation is as fun as the final product (if you’re lucky enough to get to one.)

MM: What was it about the bottle flipping game that so appealed to you?

JC: Truthfully, the kids were driving me nuts flipping bottles everywhere! We realized something had to be done. We discovered if you could focus the flipping onto a platform with a challenge or gaming twist, it was actually quite fun and not so annoying.

MM: How did you get the Trick-Tac-Toe item picked up and how different is the final product from the prototype?

JC: We went through a dozen or more prototypes. We discovered that the nine-hole layout allowed not only for a great way to carry your bottles but a versatile platform for a variety of games. We obviously play Tic-tac-toe, but can play a multiplayer bottle battle, a spin-off the basketball game HORSE called Water, and several others. We found the adults and kids were having fun with it.

MM: What has it been like to see this product on the market?

JC: There is definitely a sense of accomplishment for having taken something from napkin drawings to production packaged/distributed.


“Trick-Tac-Toe” is modeled after the classic game of “tic-tac-toe.”

MM: What kind of feedback and experiences have you gotten from fans and/or the media?

JC: For Flip-Tac-Toe and Trick-Tac-Toe some of the initial reaction is “oh no, not bottle flipping” but we counter with “Exactly! It’s not the bottle flipping you’re thinking of.” These games have a challenge and a purpose and frankly once you’ve hit your first trick shot or gotten three in a row we guarantee you’ll smile and be hooked. Once people play it they realize it’s not much different than the game Cornhole or other toss games, except the platform is much more portable and plastic bottles are ubiquitous. Some of our biggest fans are adults who are tailgating or having a backyard gathering.

MM: Have toy invented any other games or are you working on any at the moment?

JC: Cortex Toys has expanded tremendously in the past six months and is about to launch a doll line called SnapDolls, a table tennis game called Pirate Pong, and a paper-airplane maker called Presto Planes.

MM: What are your biggest goals for the future and what else would you like to mention?

JC: Bring creative energy to everything we do, make people laugh and bring more joy to the world!

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“Trick-Tac-Toe” retails for $19.99 and is available on Amazon and the Cortex Toys website. Head over to this link to view some awesome bottle flipping videos and other product information! Cortex Toys can also be followed via FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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“Trick-Tac-Toe” has a simple premise but it is actually quite tricky to win!