The Toy Book catches up with Alan Dorfman, president of Super Impulse USA, about specializing in miniatures and capitalizing on the power of nostalgia.
Toy Book: As your company name suggests, many Super Impulse products are designed to be impulse purchases. How has the COVID-19 pandemic altered how you market your products now that fewer consumers are shopping in stores?
Alan Dorfman: Nothing like leading off with a softball! Of course, we do lose the impulse purchases when traffic is down or stores are closed. We do have some check lane positions at larger retailers that have remained open, so we still are seeing some impulse purchases there. We have toys that are fully playable mini-games, great for individual and multi-player play, including a range of pocket-sized arcade games. We have increased focus on our customers that sell online, and have launched some promotions that feature our World’s Smallest games items, Tiny Arcades games, and electronic handheld games.
TB: Super Impulse specializes in making miniature versions of popular toys. How did the company decide to go in this direction?
AD: By default — everyone else was making the full-sized toys already! I had been heavily involved with miniature, licensed toys on keychains in my past. The keychain category had petered out, and we saw a void in the market for working miniatures.
TB: Super Impulse makes World’s Smallest products for many retro brands, such as Stretch Armstrong and Gumby, but also modern brands such as Peppa Pig and Elf on the Shelf. Which type tends to be more popular?
AD: It’s an even mix. When we do retro brands, we benefit from a very broad demographic customer — we get adults and kids enjoying the products. In trend items, we benefit from the current popularity and promotions of the product.
TB: You’ve also capitalized on the increasing popularity of retro arcade machines by offering miniature versions in the Tiny, Micro, and Boardwalk Arcade lines. Why do you think consumers are so excited about these games and retro brands in general?
AD: There is such a “wow” factor when you turn these games on and see a fully playable game in such a tiny format. And the games are truly fully playable; we do all of the programming ourselves, and we have replicated every screen and every level of the original arcade games. Retro titles are popular because these are the games that started the video game revolution. Everyone knows them, and they are still fun and challenging to play. These are very cool products, if I do say so myself.
There is such a “wow” factor when you turn these games on and see a fully playable game in such a tiny format.
TB: Most, if not all, of Super Impulse’s miniature products are not only tiny, but also actually work. Why is the functionality an important component, and do you ever face challenges in making these small versions really work?
AD: Functionality makes them irresistible — again, it’s the “wow” factor. Yes, of course, we face challenges in making small versions. I can’t tell you how many times our factories have told us that a product cannot be done in the scale we wanted. In many cases, building the small version is more complicated and labor-intensive than the full size. We have the same number of components, but the production cannot be automated due to the small scale. There is a lot of hand assembly.
TB: You recently relaunched Rubik’s Revolution to celebrate Rubik’s 40th anniversary. Why did you decide to relaunch this specific product, and why do you think Rubik’s is such a popular brand even after 40 years?
AD: Rubik’s is the best-known toy and toy brand in the world! We are thrilled to be able to offer Rubik’s product, and World’s Smallest Rubik’s continues to be one of our top sellers every year. We had chased the opportunity to bring back Rubik’s Revolution for years, and finally Rubik’s agreed to coincide with the 40th anniversary. Rubik’s has always been popular due to a combination of simplicity and challenge, and the internet gave kids the chance to show off their speed skills and trick skills, fueling worldwide competitions.
TB: What upcoming products or initiatives can you share?
AD: For back-to-school season this year, we are launching collectible Wacky Packages Minis. These are molded, 3D interpretations of the famous Topps Wacky Packages stickers, hilarious parodies of everyday consumer products.
We are also adding more brands to our Micro Action Figure line, which are 1.25-inch, articulated action figures. Besides great action characters, we are expanding the range to include pop culture figures, headlined by Sanrio’s Hello Kitty and Friends. We have an exciting new range in the pipeline!
This article was originally published in the June 2020 issue ofthe Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!