O Is For Outdoor Toys, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, Optimus Prime and Operation – A To Z Of The Toy Business
This category brings to mind sandy beaches, playing fields and back yards, along with boisterous energetic children playing with outdoor toys. The benefit for toy companies of course in running products in this category is counter seasonal cashflow. While most toy companies tend to have minimal revenues in the first half of the year, companies selling outdoor toys can achieve significant sales to balance out the cashflow challenges of being reliant on back end of year sales. Brands like Nerf, Frisbee and Bunch O Balloons enjoy strong sales at a time of year where most other toy companies are in the red.
OLE KIRK KRISTIANSEN was a Danish carpenter who founded Lego way back in 1932. Understandably based on his profession, Lego’s first products were wooden toys. The move to plastic toys came about when the company purchased an injection moulding machine in 1947. Not all was plain sailing though, the Great Depression hit Denmark and hit sales of non-toy products which acted as the spur for Mr. Kristiansen to enter the toy business. Then in 1942 the Nazi’s occupied Germany, and soon after a fire destroyed his factory and stock. From these humble beginnings, Ole Kirk Kristiansen and his successors have grown Lego into the largest toy brand in the world. Therefore, it would be a strong argument to make that no other individual has had a bigger long-term impact on the toy business than Mr. Kristiansen.
The Transformers brand has been with us since 1984, and the most prominent character in the Transformers universe is of course Optimus Prime. The leader of the Autobots in their endless struggle against the evil and duplicity of the Decepticons, Optimus Prime is an iconic character and toy. As the Transformers brand evolved into a successful movie franchise, so Optimus Prime stepped to the fore of the movie world – bringing Transformers to a whole new generation.
When thinking of classic board games, Operation is normally towards the top of the list. Invented by John Spinello (an industrial design student) back in 1964. The game features fairly basic technology whereby players have to try to remove ‘organs’ from a patient without causing the buzzer to buzz and the nose to glow red. In more recent times licensed co-branded versions of the game have launched with a fair degree of commercial sense. Licensed versions brought to market include Star Wars, Shrek and Spider Man as the central character/patient.
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