T Is For Takara Tomy, Transformers, Target, Toys R Us, Twister & Teddy Bear
Takara Tomy (known outside of Japan primarily as Tomy) is a powerhouse toy and entertainment company. Takara & Tomy were once competitors before a merger in the noughties brought them together. Tomy dates back to 1924, and Takara was founded in 1955. The company has a long-term relationship with Hasbro, helping to bring many Hasbro brands to the Japanese market. The company is also responsible for bringing some huge toy brands to market, including Bakugan, Beyblade & Transformers. Both within Japan and internationally, Takara Tomy is one of the global powerhouses of the toy business.
Transformers has been WOWing new generations of kids ever since 1984 when it first appeared. The franchise is both a massive toy brand, as well as an entertainment behemoth. The Transformers movies have been gigantic, with 2 movies in the series grossing over $1bn, and with total box office takings in excess of $4.8bn, making it the 13th highest grossing movie franchise of all time. The characters are inspiring, intriguing and have the hugely toyetic feature of transforming from a robotic character into a car, a truck or some other vehicle or item. Transformers is not too far away from enjoying a 40th anniversary celebration, and the signs are that this mega brand will still be entertaining kids in another 40 years’ time.
Target is one of the big 2 U.S. based mass market retailers who play a huge role in the toy business selling massive quantities of toys every year. Target began life back in the 1960s and has in the region of 1900 stores today. With total revenues (all product categories, not just toys!) in excess of $90 billion, Target’s importance to the toy business can’t be under-estimated. In recent years, Target.com has come to the fore as a major e-commerce player in the USA, ranking 60th most visited website in the USA at the time of writing this article.
TOYS ‘R’ US
Toys ‘R’ Us was the biggest and most iconic toy specialist retailer in the latter half of the 20th century after being founded in 1957. The company failed to keep up with the times in major markets like the USA & UK, and as such exited the numerous markets in 2018. There are still hundreds of TRU stores around the world though, with particular strength in Canada & Asia. Company mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe first appeared way back in the 1950s, and has fronted many an advertising campaign, with the most famous featuring the quote “There’s millions (of toys) says Geoffrey, all under one roof”.
This classic active game reportedly sold more than 3m copies in the first year of launch back in 1966 and remains a top seller to this day. The game caused quite a stir when it was featured on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, when the host and Eva Gabor played the game in such a way that the game was labelled by some as “sex in a box”!
THE TEDDY BEAR
The Teddy Bear is one of the most iconic but yet generic toys out there on the market. Named after the 26th U.S. President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, the President was on a hunting trip when members of his party trapped a bear, beat it & tied it to a tree before inviting Roosevelt to kill it. Teddy deemed this to be unsportsmanlike and refused leading to highly prominent political cartoons to feature the bear and Teddy, and from this a bright spark decided to produce a soft toy based on an ursine character called ‘Teddy’s bear’, and the rest as they say is history.
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