Eco-friendly practises are becoming an increasingly important part of the industry’s agenda, making commercial as well as environmental sense. One of many firms taking a greener approach is Thailand-based wooden toy manufacturer, Wonderworld, by participating in a localised tree re-planting scheme and manufacturing a range of educational games and toys to raise awareness of environmental issues.
And privately-owned DKL Marketing is showing its support too, by playing an active role in the product development and distribution of its Eco Series range.
According to Wonderworld it uses an average of 10,280 rubber wood trees per year in toy production and another 920 for packaging; a total of 11,200 a year.
Through the Tree Plus scheme, the manufacturer, in conjunction with the Royal Thai Government and non profit organisation, The Rabbit and the Moon Foundation, will replant a tree for every one used in production and packaging.
This is in addition to one tree being replanted by the farmer.
Supporting this environmental philosophy, Wonderworld’s Eco Series of toys and games aims to educate children on current environmental issues and show them some simple measures that they can take to minimise the effects of global warming.
Kai Hawaleschka, managing director of DKL, explains: “DKL have been distributing Wonderworld wooden toys for many years and have always been proud of their quality and standards.
“We are now going one step further by educating children about their environment and introducing the special Tree Plus Programme. Each Eco product is cleverly designed to bring eco awareness through topical themes whilst having fun. I am delighted that Wonderworld has made this move and DKL area part of this programme.”
The range currently consists of the Eco House, Penguin Rescuer Game and Recycling Memo Game, all suitable for children from 36 months, and Little Green World, suitable for kids from 24 months. More products are expected to launch in 2009.
David Allan, sales and marketing manager at DKL, adds: “We need to keep children aware. That’s what the Eco Series is about, teaching children and illustrating to them how to save the environment.”
The Eco House comes complete with furniture and figures. It features a wind turbine and solar panel on the roof, rubbish recycling bins, a bicycle and a water butt. It aims to illustrate through role-playing activities how our daily lives impact on the environment and what energy saving techniques can be used.
The Penguin Rescuer Game is a global warming-themed board game for up to four players. Each player has the task of rescuing a family of penguins stranded on a melting iceberg back to the mainland.
The Recycling Memo Game is also a board game, which teaches children how rubbish is sorted into various categories and the benefits of recycling, while the Little Green World lets them create their own world, complete with trees, a rainbow, water mill and bicycle.
In addition, the company also acts as the UK distributor for Norwegian bead brand, Hama, French doll and accessory range, Corolle, the Uniset travel toy lines and Rubens Barn empathy dolls plus the Viking Toys line up.
It is looking to expand its presence into nursery, gift and garden outlets in order to generate business further during the current economic climate, and hopes it will gain similar support to what it has received from the educational market during this year’s first quarter, which Allan predicts will increase from a ten per cent to at least a 25 per cent share of the firm’s overall sales.
And, as it approaches its 20th anniversary next March, it has also hinted at the possibility of striking distribution deals with two more companies.
“Its very important for us to look for companies to distribute for so we can keep ahead of the times,” Allan emphasises. “We are always looking to grow as long as it fits with our profile and is right for us.”
Rubens Barn settles in the UK
Since taking on the distribution of the handmade character dolls, Rubens Barn, DKL has noticed a good rate of uptake across both retail and education sectors.
The Swedish firm, Design Rubens, enlisted DKL to introduce its range of quirky, empathy dolls to the UK and Irish markets back in March this year.
Since then, the original series of 50cm soft dolls have proven popular on the education front, while the 40cm Little Rubens line has taken a shine to retailers’ shelves.
David Allan, sales and marketing manager at DKL, says both retailers and children have warmed to the dolls, if not a first sight, then at the second.
Noting the range’s adaptability as toy, nursery item or gift for young and old, Allan adds: ‘The way people market their product is so important to us.”
Other lines available include the galaxy inspired Cosmos collection, Rubens Ark, complete with animal outfits, the overall-wearing Rainbow line up and the nature focused Linne range, complete with basket.
The dolls feature beady, embroidered eyes, sculpted faces and soft, tactile hair, giving each one an individual persona. Their size and softness, along with their cute outfits lends them to being a child’s companion, while the extra outfits that are available adds to their play value.
DKL continues to back the Hama beading range, despite the competitive environment it’s in.
New, bold packaging, which highlights the bead count, together with Make and Take in-store promotions and exposure through You Tube, are combining to drive the Norwegian brand’s value, according to the firm.
“Art students from around the country are using Hama beads to create some amazing designs, “ Kai Hawaleschka, MD of DKL says. “They are then uploading their creations onto blogging sites, such as You Tube and Flicker, to share them with others, giving the brand extra visibility.”
New items within the Midi line include giant licensed gift boxes and mobiles. There is also the Press and Play system, with larger pegs that don’t require ironing. A press pen is used instead to secure the pegs on to the board.
My First Hama from the Maxi line, meanwhile, targets children from three to five years. Translucent pegboards are used to create patterns, with fewer colours to choose from in order to make the series simpler.