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E Is For Etch A Sketch, Elmo & Electronics – A-Z Of The Toy Business

Etch A Sketch

This must be one of the most iconic creative play toys out there. First brought to market in 1960, Etch A Sketch allows children to ‘draw’ impressive pictures with a fun and visually intriguing reset mechanism and with some structural aid to draw good linear shapes. Invented by André Cassagnes, a Baker’s son from near Paris, France, who went on to also become a well-known inventor of Kites. In the first year on the market Etch A Sketch is reported to have sold more than 600,000 copies., and in total since 1960 the product has sold more than 175 million copies – an incredible number. The product is still on the market today, with Spin Master having bought the brand in 2016, it looks like this iconic toy is going to be a classic toy forever more.

Elmo (Tickle Me)

Tickle Me Elmo is the very definition of a massive hit product. In the region of 1 million toys were sold in the launch year (1996), and by the following Christmas over 5million had been sold. Elmo of course was a character in Sesame Street, which was as big as a kids’ entertainment program could get back then. Elmo’s feature was to shake, vibrate and to recite his catchphrase. For children, the appeal was massive, because Elmo is the epitome of a cute character, in a cuddly and interactive format that really brought Elmo to life. There have been numerous attempts to bring Elmo back, but with lesser success, but regardless of that, for those people who were in the toy business around that time, Elmo remains the ultimate dream – a massive sell out success product which was 5 times bigger in year two than in the already impressive first year of sales.

Electronics

Ever since consumer electronics came on the scene, the toy industry has done a magnificent job of taking technology and dumbing it/pricing it down to fit toy price points and to deliver compelling play experiences. Way back, the Speak & Spell from Texas Instruments was an electronic educational product which would ask children to spell words & other simple tasks – this product was entirely reliant on electronics. Clearly electronic products are more expensive to develop, because in addition to the usual tooling & other development costs, you also have to develop the electronic components which all adds $$$ to product development. Therefore, launching electronic products in a market where most products miss the mark and fail to come back for a second year can be very risky. When it works though, the results can be extraordinary, Furby is a great example of a product bristling with electronics and other technologies, which sold more than 40 million units in the first three years of launch. Some years later, new versions of Furby featuring updated electronics and full of technology patents was highly successful again. So, Electronics can help toy companies to deliver fantastic products, albeit with some risks attached.

Do you need help to understand the toy & game business? We help people from all around the world to understand and successfully enter the toy business. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

A To Z Of The Toy Business – D Is For Disney

This was probably the easiest of our A To Z articles to write, because there is really only one Licensor who is completely ubiquitous in the toy business, and that of course is The Walt Disney Company. There is no toy company which has so many iconic brands and characters, there is no entertainment company which compares in terms of scope and strength in family entertainment, they have more than 300 of their own retail stores only selling merchandise based on their own franchises and characters, they have TV channels, massive movie release slates and of course more recently they have their own super successful direct to home viewing platform in Disney+.


If we take a quick look at the key properties relevant to toys owned by the Walt Disney Company, we don’t need to list many before we have a collection of the most successful toy licenses ever: Star Wars, Marvel, Toy Story, Disney, and we’ve barely even started at that point! Star Wars is THE toy license, ever since the first movie released back in 1977, Star Wars has been a merchandise shifting juggernaut of a brand, with a massive and deep character universe, endless variations of vehicles and space craft, massive depth in story and classic dialogue, heroes and villains, not to mention some of the most entertaining movies ever made (we’ll skip quickly over the very forgettable Episode 1!).


Since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, Marvel movies have dominated the global box office with more than $22bn in box office takings across the franchise. In the toy business, Marvel has become a powerhouse on its own, regardless of the broader successes of The Walt Disney Company. Again, the character universe is strong and broad, with a hero or heroine to appeal to everyone.


Even looking at classic Disney icons like Mickey & Minnie Mouse, these classic characters continue to drive significant Plush toy sales each and every year. The classic Pixar movies like Toy Story have some ever-green appeal, and with a seemingly endless array of sequels Toy Story is set to be a classic toy brand for ever more. Pixar’s new releases are normally critically acclaimed and quite often unleash hit toy lines.


From media platforms to Monsters Inc/University toys, from Disney brand to Donald Duck and from Stormtroopers to Sven, The Walt Disney Company has developed over time into the primary global driver for licensed toys & games.

Do you need help to grow sales for your toy company? We help people from all around the world to sell more toys, both in their home markets and into export markets. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

C Is For: Cute Toys Like Care Bears... And China

‘Cute’ is a massive thing for the toy business. Toys which are super cute and huggable are often very compelling for children. The younger a child is the more their sense of touch takes priority over the other senses. That’s why a really cute, soft toy will be loved by kids.


Care Bears is an iconic toy brand first launched in the 1980s, and now back in the market via Basic Fun. More than $1billion of Care Bear toys have been sold across retail. There are a number of ‘best practise’ elements of Care Bears to observe: first, a range of characters with different looks, colours and characteristics. They also have a distinctive and presumably ownable pattern on their tummies to differentiate them from any other teddy bear products in market. Care Bears (as the name suggests) encourage caring for other people, something which is very appealing for parents who are trying to teach their kids the right way to interact with other people and the world in general. And then finally (of course) they are super huggable and cute!


China has been a force in the toy business for many decades. Originally entering the toy manufacturing sector with massive and cheap labour force as the attraction for toy companies competing in the massively price sensitive business of toys. Today China is many things to the toy business – it still remains the primary hub for toy manufacturing globally, although the country as a whole is transitioning upwards in terms of manufacturing capabilities there is still a massive array of toy factories of all sizes and shapes. But as the economy in China increasingly moves beyond cheap products to more advanced manufacturing, China’s growing domestic market is the second biggest in the world and growing.


Do you need help to grow sales for your toy company? We help people from all around the world to sell more toys, both in their home markets and into export markets. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

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