The Toy Book caught up with Alan Dorfman, president of Super Impulse, about the big world of mini-toys. Super Impulse will expand several lines this year, introducing more giant things in tiny packages.
Toy Book: Super Impulse has had big success with mini-toys. What can consumers expect from the Micro Toy Box line?
Alan Dorfman: Small is BIG! Our various product lines are collections of high-quality, very accurately executed miniatures of the most beloved brands. Micro Toy Box features the very best classic and contemporary toys from the very best toymakers. The toys range in size from .75- to 1.25-inch sizes. These are collectible replicas (non-functioning), offered as five, 10, 15, 20, and 25 per pack. Plus, they include rare styles, stickers, and, of course, checklists. Series one has more than 50 toys to collect!
TB: The World’s Smallest line is also growing this year. What can you tell us about the expanded games category?
AD: The World’s Smallest games are really great! Our team did an amazing job in getting full gameplay with all parts — including cards, dice, spinners, mini-pencils, tablets, game pieces, and more — to provide everything you need for multi-player, competitive play in a portable, pocket-size case. We are rolling out a dozen new titles in 2021 and have a deep library of titles that we’ll continue to introduce in the coming years.
TB: What can consumers expect from the second series of Wacky Packages Minis?
AD: We’ve kept the bar low, so consumers can find more (possibly) slightly gross, (possibly) slightly off-color, and (probably) hilarious parodies of everyday household grocery products. We have more than 88 new designs in series two, based on the Topps collectible stickers from the ‘70s, ’80s, ‘90s, and 2000s. There are four levels to collect, including rare, really rare, and “FuggetAboutIt” rare.
TB: What makes the miniature toy collectibles so popular? What role does nostalgia play?
AD: The world is obsessed with miniature collectibles for both kids and adults. People have an instinctive emotional attachment to miniatures replicating real life. We are the only company that makes the most iconic toys in miniatures that actually work. The quality and authenticity are pretty amazing and people are drawn to them.
Nostalgia definitely plays a big role. Old is new again! Everything from the ’80s and ‘90s era is flying off shelves. Nostalgic products remind us of positive childhood memories and evoke feelings of happiness, comfort, and fun. Retro has always been big in the toy business, but during the pandemic, it is even more so, as adults want to share their memories with loved ones.
TB: What was the inspiration behind Micro Pop Culture Figures? Why did Super Impulse launch the line with the Garbage Pail Kids?
AD: Actually, Micro Action Figures came first. We have been pretty comprehensive in offering the best toys as World’s Smallest, so it was natural that we do miniature action figures.
We had done small figures before, including Barbie and GI Joe, which were about 3 inches tall. But, we decided to go REALLY miniature. Our Micro Figures are 1.25 inches tall and include a mini-blister package to house and display the figure. At the same time, we were doing well with our Bob Ross Talking keychain. We wanted to do more with the license, and I don’t think Bob Ross would fit anyone’s definition of an “action” figure. So, a new category was born: Micro Pop Culture Figures!
We have a relationship with Topps on the Wacky Packages, and it is an anniversary year for the Garbage Pail Kids, so it was a natural extension to represent that brand as miniature figures. With so many characters — each has two names and personalities — and a very enthusiastic fan base, this will be a strong product line for us.
TB: Likewise, why did Super Impulse choose to include Bob Ross, Richard Simmons, and Hello Kitty?
AD: We are equal opportunity toymakers. If we have Bob Ross, known for his calm and serene nature, of course, we have to do the frenetic Richard Simmons. [It’s the] same for Hello Kitty. When you have the gross, offensive Garbage Pail Kids, we need to do cute, endearing Hello Kitty and Friends.
TB: How do you see this line expanding past 2021?
AD: There really is no limit. We are working with a couple of the major studios for characters from TV shows and classic films. We can draw from any entertainment venue — past and current, fictional and non-fictional.
We hope to see people collecting, posing, and displaying full ranges of Micro Figures. We are seeing a lot of social media posts where full-size action figures are posed playing with our Micro Figs as their action figures! We’ve seen He-Man and Skeletor playing with Micro Skeletor and He-Man, and Donatello and Leonardo, setting up micro Rafael and Michelangelo! It’s very creative!
TB: You work with some of the largest toy licensors in the industry. How are you able to expand those partnerships?
AD: We are very fortunate to have strong partnerships with companies that, despite being the biggest and the best in the world, are respectful and appreciative of our execution of their
brands. We are entrusted with their signature brands, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
We put time and detail into replicating those brands so that consumers can have the experience they expect from those toys. We are careful to compliment the toy lines we license with retail placement — which includes new positioning in stores and new, additional classes of retailers — that bring visibility and a broader customer base to these toy brands. In other words, we work with our partners to provide added value to their brands and to raise the profile of their companies.
TB: Is there anything else you are excited to share about this upcoming year?
AD: This year is the 25th anniversary of Bop It, the interactive sound/response toy invented by the great Dan Klitsner of KID, and sold by Hasbro. Super Impulse will be offering a World’s Smallest Bop It 25th Anniversary Edition — a pocket-size, fully functional version of the original. Part of the earnings will be contributed to Bop It for Good, a charitable program Dan will be running to donate back to the community.
TB: Is there anything in the works that we haven’t talked about that you can share?
AD: Super Impulse is beyond excited to partner with Konami to bring Yu-Gi-Oh! figural collectible characters to its loyal and enthusiastic fans! Based on the extremely popular trading cards, we will be doing characters in two scales, including our Micro Figures line and a larger-scale line. We’ve had a terrific relationship with Konami, working with them on brands for our Tiny Arcade lines, and they have entrusted us to bring their signature property from 2D cards to fully figural, collectible toys.
TB: What types of challenges has Super Impulse faced over the past year with the pandemic and how did it overcome them?
AD: We had the same challenges as most toy companies. On a micro level, our top priority was keeping our full staff out of risk, fully employed, engaged, and busy. This was a challenge since for at least three months, about 70% of our customer base was closed or very reduced in their operation.
We had to do some careful financial planning, including working with our licensing partners, vendors, and others. We ran sales incentives on products and categories that were trending, including our mini-games, electronic games, and arcade items. We worked with our retail partners on extended terms and delayed shipments until they could get their footing. In short, we weathered the storm.