Marvel’s Ant-Man is still going strong in theaters, and so is Disney Consumer Products’ (DCP) and Marvel‘s Ant-Man product collection. The lineup includes costumes, construction sets, action figures, and more from licensees such as Hasbro, LEGO, Funko, Hot Wheels, Rubie’s Costume Co., and Uncle Milton.
Having recently been promoted to the position of president of Toy State, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Andy Friess to talk about the state of his company, its high-profile sponsorship agreement with Tommy Baldwin Racing, its upcoming plans for the R/C brand, Nikko, and more.
The Toy Book (TTB): How important are new licensing agreements to the growth of Toy State?
Andy Friess (AF): Licensing plays a major role in our success. With the competition so tough in all toy categories, securing rights to strong licenses can provide the point-of-difference that separates us from our competitors. Toy State’s history of developing products featuring the highest levels of quality and innovation has been a great “selling” tool as we seek new licensing opportunities. We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a core of outstanding global licensors, and these relationships have been instrumental to the successes we have achieved over our 30-plus-year history. The 13-year, multi-category relationship with Caterpillar has been the foundation of our licensing efforts.
Wonder Workshop has appointed Raghu Sethuraman as COO and Ned Ward as vice president of marketing. Sethuraman will lead global operations, finance, customer service, and reseller partner organizations. He brings more than 16 years of leadership experience to Wonder Workshop from fast growing global e-commerce, supply chain, manufacturing, finance, and customer service organizations including Amazon.
When it comes to creating great toys, games, or just about anything, it all boils down to the idea. Great things are often borne of flashes of inspiration, and more than ever, we’re seeing toy companies try to tap into the mental spark of their customers.
Painting Lulu has reached a multi-year licensing agreement with Mattel that will bring the Barbie and Hot Wheels brands to the physical and digital worlds of Painting Lulu in time for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. Painting Lulu is a paper-to-digital coloring set in which kids color in the Painting Lulu coloring book with regular crayons, and then scan the page using the Painting Lulu app on any smart device, making the coloring page instantly appear. Using the Painting Lulu Digital Crayon, kids can enhance and correct their coloring with the many tools and colors available.
With less than one month until Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives in theaters, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and Marvel have released details about their merchandising program, which is arriving at retail now. Toy partners include Hasbro, Lego, Hot Wheels, Funko, Rubie’s Costumes, Disney Store, and more. The toys range from interactive electronic action figures with voice-activation to motorized 6V ride-on super cars that drive 2.5 miles per hour; to articulated, light-up repulsor FX gloves; and a disk-launching shield.
Mattel and Quirky have entered an exclusive partnership to spark invention in toys, play, and more. Harnessing Quirky’s global community and Mattel’s iconic brands, the two companies will re-imagine Mattel’s portfolio of products to drive growth for brands such as Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels.
For the first quarter, Mattel Inc. reported worldwide net sales up 5 percent in constant currency, as well as reported worldwide net sales down 2 percent, reflecting the impact from changes in currency exchange rates. On a regional basis, first quarter gross sales increased 9 percent in constant currency, and 8 percent as reported in the North American region, which consists of the U.S., Canada, and American Girl. For the International region, gross sales increased 2 percent in constant currency, and decreased 14 percent as reported.