Toys are always big sellers for independent retailers, whether for stocking shelves for the holidays or for year-round gifting occasions like birthdays. Marketers tend to agree that the more innovative the product, the greater the sales.
Hobby RC Online, a division of Tyko Tech, is especially excited about the upcoming holiday seasons, as the Orange, CA based merchandiser plans to release four appealing brand new products in the coming weeks. They include a WiFi-enabled camera, camera-enabled helicopters, the "Flying Ball," and new flying craft pieces. The products can be found at
www.hobbyrconline.com. Each product has a certain high-tech intrigue. Zack Yildirim, president of Tyko Tech, recently spoke about the camera-enabled helicopters. Consumers, he says, "Will be able to see as they fly live on their remote controller. We are the first company that brought regular camera helicopters to this market, and we will be the first again to bring in newer products."
Over the last three years, Yildirim says helicopters have been his hottest products. He predicts that this year's biggest sellers will be airborne crafts with lots of cool functions. "The trends are going to be in advanced flying toys," he says. "I am very confident that these toys will change the toy industry, and force other toy manufacturers to add features and new things to their product lines." Tyko Tech's wholesale customers will receive not only the best products, but the fairest prices (call for wholesale quotes). The service is top notch, too, Yildirim adds, naming it as the difference between his company and the competition.
"Our staff here is highly educated in the toys area," he says. "If you call our office, the first person who answers the phone will give you a satisfactory answer. We give everyone excellent training. I focus on service more than anything, and I will explain why. The market we are in right now tends to aim for service rather than anything else. We get our power and energy from our customers' feedback, and so far, so good."
Esco for Toy Guns & More
In addition to customer feedback, it is always good to track what sells but is not touched by the big box retail players. For instance, Esco Imports, at
www.escoimports.com, offers a wide range of toy items. The San Antonio, TX based company has 24 product categories, including dinosaur toys, airplane toys, girls' and pirate toys, but Jack Steinfeld, general manager, pointed out his company's line of toy guns as key sellers for mom and pop shops.
"Our toys are not politically correct," he says. "They are good for independent retailers because big chains tend to shy away from them. The small retailer doesn't have to compete against the big player, and they are really popular and always selling." The toy guns imitate real life firearms like AK-47 rifles and M16 machine guns, but in a playful way. Steinfeld says the products wholesale between $5 and $10 per unit. "They are harder to come by from the consumer's perspective," he explains. "We also offer a lot of traditional toys. We offer items that are hard to get anywhere else."
Toy Network's Cool Designs
As Steinfeld suggests, product differentiation can be key in terms of generating excellent profits. On that same note, Toy Network is touting skull banks, jumbo silicone bracelets, cupcake bands and cupcake plush for the holidays ahead, from Halloween to Christmas. The company, based in Indianola, IA, offers a huge variety of toy items at
www.toynetworkllc.com. Jenn Thacker, a designer for Toy Network, says the skull bands come in a variety of colors and are decorated with swirls and designs like "Day of the Dead" skulls. She adds, "We will also have 'Halloween Snubbies,' which come in a variety of ghoulish monsters. For any birthday occasions, we have cupcake plush in three styles."
Thacker sees neon colors as a big general product trend for this holiday season. She says, "Our jumbo silicone bracelets are very popular right now. We offer them in three styles, popular phrases, countries and cities, in sports colors. Novelty plush, such as our cupcake plush, traffic cone plush and bowling pin plush, are also popular this year. Our shiny bladder balls are one of the hottest items we carry, and come in four styles: basketballs, baseballs, tennis balls and soccer balls. They are available in a large variety of color combinations and are made with a metallic shiny fabric that really stands out. In addition, cupcake items such as our cupcake banks and cupcake plush are very on trend right now."
For independent retailers looking for specials, Toy Network is using Facebook (www.facebook.com/ToyNetworkLLC) to pitch exclusive social media offers. The midwestern company also offers the type of customer service one expects from the heartland. "We offer quick, timely responses for all customer inquiries," Thacker says.
While innovative toys are almost always certain revenue generators, toys based on popular shows and actors can really drive this niche. Entertainment Earth, a wholesaler based in Simi Valley, CA, offers exclusive bobble head dolls featuring popular entertainment images, such as Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, Michael Knight of Knight Rider, the DeLorean car from Back To The Future, and Daenerys from Game of Thrones.
But that is just the start, says Kristen Nichols, spokesperson for Entertainment Earth. The wholesale company offers products from classic entertainment properties like Star Wars, Marvel, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, DC Comics, The Muppets, Peanuts, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy, and The Six Million Dollar Man. There are also products from new titles like Game of Thrones, as well as Dexter, The Venture Bros., Eastbound & Down, The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Batman: Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Hobbit.
"Other popular lines/licenses will be Monster High, Angry Birds, LEGO, Portal, and Halo," she says. "We also sell lots of action figures, bobble heads, and collectibles from anime, sports, horror, and music properties."
Nichols gives her take on upcoming trends. "We see TV properties really on the rise," she forecasts. "Tee shirts, bobble heads, glassware, and various gift items from all the popular TV shows are doing well lately." Her company also pitches popular gifts from Hasbro and Mattel at the best prices at EntertainmentEarth.com. There, independent retailers can buy, in addition to the other fantastic products, coffee mugs, cookie jars, and more. The company also offers risk-free shopping, 90-day returns, and a low price guarantee. "We also have a mint condition guarantee," Nichols notes.
Puzzle Inc. offers a great deal more than the wooden puzzles and 3D puzzles you might expect. The company has a strong focus on many other great toy products, including huggie plush bands, bank plush, pen plush, magnet, notebook, and keychain plush, and bath buddies, also known as water squirters. Tom Tal, vice president of the Orlando-based firm, says he thinks the product trends for the rest of the year seem fairly clear: "Items that have good value at an affordable price," he says, and that offer, "catchy and attractive designs with unique colors."
Like other great wholesalers, Puzzle Inc. stresses providing the best possible customer service. "We go by the rule, 'The customer is always right,'" Tal says. "We have a professional team that has a specialty in the field, and we take the time to make sure everyone is taken care of. As a company, we pride ourselves in excellent customer service."
For more information:
Tyko Tech, Inc.
1523 West Orangewood Ave.
Orange, CA 92868
Direct Line: 714-288-0440
1800 N. Ninth St.
Indianola, IA 50125
Toll Free: 800-767-9998
Esco Imports, Inc.
6055 Woodlake Center
San Antonio, TX 78244
Toll Free: 800-445-3836
61 Moreland Road
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Toll Free: 800-370-2320
5310 Derry Ave., Suite J
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Customer Service: 818-991-9245
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