KD.EricLevinThis year marks the return of KD Group as a North American International Toy Fair exhibitor. While the company is better known in Europe, KD Group is no stranger to the U.S. toy and kids’ electronics businesses. The company’s Kurio line has been a leading kids’ tablet brand in the U.S. for the past four holiday seasons.

The Toy Book sat down with KD Group’s Strategic Director Eric Levin to learn more about the company’s plans for U.S. growth and expansion.

What is KD Group’s background?

KD Group has been the leading manufacturer of innovative kids’ electronic toys throughout Europe for more than 20 years. Under our Kidz Delight (KD) brand, we offer a wide range of toys that help build early learning skills for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. They are sold at mass and specialty retailers in more than 20 countries.

Tell us about your plans for expansion in the U.S.

KD Group is most known in the U.S. currently for our Kurio line of kid-safe Android and Windows tablets. Under that brand, we give kids the latest technology they want, but with the safety features that bring parents peace of mind. Meanwhile, our KD line of toys has been available in the U.S., but has been largely “under the radar.” We are committed to changing that this year and beyond.

We believe KD Group has the experience, resources, and commitment needed to be a significant player not only in the kids’ tablet market, but also in the toy industry more broadly, expanding into categories that include preschool electronics, traditional toys, and licensed products. KD Group is committed to building a talented and experienced team here in the U.S. to ensure that we who are close to the market are creating products that work for American consumers and retailers.

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Where do your new product ideas come from? Do you work with outside inventors?

KD Group has always sought to be innovative by adapting new technologies, whether it is motion recognition, voice recording, or image projection, for example, to guarantee cutting-edge educational toys that are ergonomically designed for children. We have an in-house team of product engineers, scientists, and educators who collaborate on product development, and we also work with established outside inventors. In fact, our doors are always open to new opportunities and we welcome inventors to help us innovate.

In the past, Kurio partnered with major players in the app world. Are you open to working with new licensing partners going forward?

On the Kurio side in the U.S., we’ve partnered with everyone from Angry Birds to Fruit Ninja, and from Disney to YouTube Kids. In Europe, KD Group has a strong portfolio of premiere licenses and is the preferred electronic toy licensee for major brands including Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Disney, Barbie, and Monster High. We recognize the importance of licenses and are very interested in growing our licensed product portfolio in the U.S.

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What is your focus for this year? What can we expect to see from KD Group in the future?

We see a great opportunity for market share gain with Kurio this year, given the troubles our main competitors have seen. We will continue to stay on trend and align with what is driving the business. For example, we are the first company to offer Windows two-in-one options for kids. We are also very focused on the importance of offering a strong value to consumers.

Additionally, we’re excited to expand our Kurio range to include Kurio Watch, a real-working Bluetooth smartwatch designed especially for kids. It combines all the basic watch functions (alarm, calendar, calculator, etc.) with music and video players, a front-facing camera for taking selfies and videos, messaging capabilities, an activity tracker, and mini games using motion sensors.

On the toy side, we’re eager to further expand the reach of our KD line of successful European-designed educational toys in the U.S. Developed in conjunction with childhood learning professionals, the toys offer kids ages 6 months and up stimulation through different shapes and learning themes. Many of the KD toys are bilingual and also double as role-play items. Ranges include: iLOL, a “my first” series of toys for infants; Toddly Fun interactive toys; Silly Sam & Friends toys featuring silly characters in the form of everyday household items, such as a flashlight and a coffee maker; Cheeky Tunes musical instruments; and My Bath Time waterproof-guaranteed tub toys.

Under our Tech-Too brand, we have a new range of realistic, pretend, touch-sensitive toys that look just like mom and dad’s electronic devices, featuring a smart TV, remote controls, a smartphone, a two-in-one tablet, a notebook, and a camera.

We’re also introducing a new range of nightlights for infants and small children with a cute ghostlike character called Tinyboo, who helps comfort kids who may be afraid of the dark. The night-lights utilize LED technology and come in different forms and functions, from a basic Mini Light that makes the perfect bedside companion; to a Baby Light that doubles as a rattle; to a Lantern that brightens to guide young children throughout the home; to a Huggy Plush toy that has a special cuddle sensor built in.