W Is For Weintraub, Wenkstern, WWE, Wham-O And Women In Toys, Licensing & Entertainment


LIONEL WEINTRAUB

Lionel Weintraub worked in the toy business for four decades, with a focus on innovation and looking forward he is one of the all-time greats. He is credited with being one of the first toy people to adopt plastic injection moulding, a process which is now ubiquitous in the toy trade, was one of the first executives to embrace the professional inventing community and under his reign at Ideal Toys had one of the first TV advertised toy products in toys. He is also associated with some mightily successful products including Mousetrap, Kerplunk and of course the mighty Rubik’s Cube which his Ideal Toy team launched in the USA.

RUSSELL WENKSTERN

Russell Wenkstern was at the helm of Tonka Toys during their original heyday, between 1961 to 1977. Under his reign Tonka became the biggest manufacturer of vehicles globally. The Mighty Tonka line brought to market by Wenkstern and his team became hugely successful, doubling revenues over 4 years.

WWE

WWE (once was WWF) has been a major brand in the action figures space for decades. Kids and families often love wrestling for the entertainment factor. Many children love the themes and action of goodies vs baddies, of physical confrontation and argy bargy. They also love action figures which allow them to play out boisterous physical play with the figures. When you look at the biggest brands in action figures this millennium, you’ll find these plastic representations of the latest wrestling stars consistently in the mix!

WHAM-O

Founded way back in 1948, Wham-O has been wowing generation after generation of kids and families ever since. They have brought a dazzling array of hit products to market over the years including Frisbee, the Hula Hoop, Silly String and Hacky sack. It’s perhaps no surprise that a company with so many ‘outdoor’ play icons in their stable of brands hails from the sunny climes of California.

WOMEN IN TOYS, LICENSING & ENTERTAINMENT

A global community and non-profit organisation that champions and advocates for the advancement of women through leadership, networking and educational opportunities. For more information: https://womenintoys.com/

We run a Consultancy business helping toy & games companies get ahead. For more information, check out www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services


We also run a Strategic Sourcing Consultancy advising toy & game companies around the world on their Sourcing strategies, reviewing their vendor base & suggesting improvements. To date our Sourcing services have saved our clients $tens of millions. For more information on how we can help, just go to: www.ToyTeamAsia.com

V Is For Vtech, Vehicles, Verrecchia & Video Games – Toy Business A To Z


VTECH

Vtech is a powerhouse in electronic learning toys, with a strong raft of products which keep coming back year after year with upgraded tech and refreshed versions of classic items like the Kidizoom camera and Kidizoom Watch products which have been top sellers. Originally founded back in 1976 by two entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, the company founded by Allan Wong and Stephen Leung is a global force. In 2016 the company strengthened its market position considerably with the acquisition of major rival Leapfrog.

VEHICLES

This is one of the often-forgotten powerhouses of the toy business. From generic toy cars, to Hot Wheels through to licensed products based on movies and TV shows the Vehicles category is a strong pillar of the toy business. The movie franchise ‘Cars’ clearly had a huge fit with the toy vehicles market and as such enjoyed huge success. But the potential for ‘Vehicles’ is huge – Star Wars for instance has such a huge universe of characters and means of transportation that the Vehicle toy options are huge. For children, the appeal is multi-faceted – they like the concept of speed and travelling fast, children also love to role play with objects, tasks and processes they see in everyday life, and kids tend to spend quite a lot of time in cars.

VERRECCHIA, AL

Al Verrecchia had a massive positive effect on Hasbro. Having worked for Hasbro for decades, he moved from CFO to CEO back in 2003 to steady the ship after the failure of Hasbro Interactive and expensive licensing deals caused concerns with the profitability of the company. His reign at Hasbro won’t go down in history as the most dynamic or most exciting, but his ‘Core brand’ focused strategy effectively and efficiently reset the company’s financials and laid the foundations for the more expansive and visionary strategy of the following CEO – Brian Goldner (RIP).

VIDEO GAMES

Today the Video Games industry is significantly bigger than the Toy business but looking back to the start of the Video game era, the start was alongside the toy industry. Back when technology was simpler, barriers to entry were not so huge, toy companies dabbled (and usually failed) in the world of gaming consoles. Both Mattel and Hasbro got major bloody noses from playing in this space – Hasbro Interactive had a run of success in the mid to late 1990s, but closed doors with major losses not too long later. Mattel lost a lot of money with The Learning Company at a similar time. Today the Video Games business is regularly spawning brands which are licensed to toy companies creating best sellers i.e. Minecraft, Fortnight & others. Additionally, Video Games historically have had a major impact on the Toy business when a new console launches, with the new consoles topping the ‘Wish lists’ of kids and therefore cannibalising some toy business. In recent times this negative impact of new console launches seems to have lessened, but either way, the Video Games business has a significant impact on the toy business.

We run a Consultancy business helping toy & games companies get ahead. For more information, check out www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services


We also run a Strategic Sourcing Consultancy advising toy & game companies around the world on their Sourcing strategies, reviewing their vendor base & suggesting improvements. To date our Sourcing services have saved our clients $tens of millions. For more information on how we can help, just go to: www.ToyTeamAsia.com

U Is For Unicorns, Upwords, Uncle Milton & Uno – Toy Business A To Z


UNICORNS

The same perennial themes for toys have been resurfacing time after time for decades in the toy business. Unicorns is one of those perennial themes. After all, what is a unicorn but a super cutesy magical pony, and we all know how popular they are when turned into toys!

UPWORDS

Upwords has been a very successful board game since it first came on the scene in the early 1980s. By adding a 3d dimension to a Scrabble-esque word game, renowned games inventor Elliot Rudel brought a whole new twist to playing word games.

UNCLE MILTON

Uncle Milton toys is perhaps best known for their original ant farm toy product which was a massive hit back in the 1950s and 1960s. The company is also credited with introducing the spud gun to the market. The company has had a long influence on the toy business, and in 2017 the assets were purchased by The Bridge Direct & Tech 4 Kids. One other notable thing to note is that co-founder E. Joseph Cossman later wrote a best-selling book entitled ‘How I Made $1,000,000 Via Mail Order & You Can Too’.

UNO

UNO is a best-selling classic card game, which has been on sale since the early 1970s and has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. The game was invented by a Barber from Ohio called Merle Robbins, who fairly quickly sold his rights to International Games in return for $50,000 and a royalty on each game sold.

We run a Consultancy business helping toy & games companies get ahead. For more information, check out www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services


We also run a Strategic Sourcing Consultancy advising toy & game companies around the world on their Sourcing strategies, reviewing their vendor base & suggesting improvements. To date our Sourcing services have saved our clients $tens of millions. For more information on how we can help, just go to: www.ToyTeamAsia.com