F Is For Fun, Frisbee & Factories
There are many complicated reasons why there is a toy business which is worth only a little under $100 billion globally. But the start point for explaining the size of the toy industry is that children (and adults) love to have FUN! Children are more hedonistic than adults with less concern for implications and responsibilities, therefore toy products which offer them a lot of fun will be very appealing! There are many developmental benefits of playing with toys, and these are quite often used to persuade parents to buy toys they don’t really want to buy for their kids. Developing fine motor skills, dexterity, visual observation, co-ordination, communication skills – all of these are positively enhanced by playing with toys, but it is usually a mistake to forget that toys are all about FUN!
This iconic outdoor toy has a fundamental appeal based on something people love to do – throw and catch objects. With Frisbee though, the aerodynamic design/shape allows even children to throw the ‘disc’ further than they would be able to throw some objects, and even more compelling is the ability to develop skills to throw the Frisbee with fade, curl or even to make the Frisbee return to the thrower. Many a Frisbee experience involves a skilled player teasing the catcher with a fade away throw which appears to be catchable, but in the end just sneaks away due to the skill of the thrower. According to Wikipedia, there was a flying disc product on the market in 1937, but the brand name Frisbee first surfaced in 1957 associated with a product sold by Wham-O, who to this day still sell Frisbee. Total Frisbee sales to date are reported to be in excess of 100 million units, which is phenomenal. Generation after generation have enjoyed playing with Frisbee, and despite all the technological developments society has seen since 1957, this simple but hugely compelling toy is just as much fun as ever!
Not the most exciting end of the toy business, but nevertheless, without factories we would have no toys to sell. There is a saying that ‘Innovation dies on the factory floor’, which is quite a negative perspective, but the reality is that a good idea is no good if it cannot be produced. The toy manufacturing landscape is a few years into a shift from China being the dominant toy manufacturing hub to more of a multi-hub situation with India, Vietnam & other Asian countries picking up toy production, alongside some ‘Near shoring’. Many in the toy business presume that China has always been the place for toy production, but if you speak to the old timers in the business, they will tell you of a time before China’s rise, when they sourced from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan & other hubs. Regardless of where the toy factory is based though, a good factory protects the factory workers, complies with all regulations for countries they are supplying and of course manufactures toys at competitive costs in what is a very price driven industry.
(N.B. F would also be for Furby, but we already covered that in the previous article in this series, see that article here: https://www.toyindustryjournal.com/e-is-for-etch-a-sketch-elmo-electronics-a-z-of-the-toy-business/
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