FEATURE: Big bones

Magic Box?s GoGo?s Crazy Bones has been one of the collectable success stories of the year, but where did it come from and how long is it likely to continue being the talk of the playground? Ronnie Dungan spoke to director, Ben Harper, about dem Bones?
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The GoGo’s Crazy Bones success story is pure toy industry. A product that came out of nowhere, quickly built up momentum and became a moneyspinner for indie retailers at a time when they really needed it.

Now it has become a bona fide brand with a licensing programme handled by Bulldog, including deals with Halsall’s wheeled toys, Portico’s greetings cards, Pyramid’s posters, Roy Lowe and Sons’ socks, Infocado’s calendars, Poetic Gem’s apparel and Zap’s bedding, with Random House to produce the official handbook and other titles from Penguin publishing.

Magic Box International supplies the product and has just launched a second wave, Evolution. director Ben Harper sees the brand as more than a fad:

“With a collectable the question is more to do with how you can create the momentum in the first place. We certainly invested a considerable amount of marketing budget into our launch phase and this was successful in both raising awareness in the product and in getting free product into the hands of our target market.

“These efforts, combined with the qualities of the product have been successful in creating the craze. We have been fortunate to generate an enormous amount of press and TV coverage for the craze and this has certainly helped to continually broaden awareness and desirability.”

But what was the magic ingredient that turned it into this year’s toy craze? A range of components were behind the success, says Harper.

“I don’t think there is one individual element we could point to. The craze seems to have grown on an almost daily basis since we launched in March. Ultimately it’s the strength of the product that has persuaded kids to really embrace it. We are very proud of improvements made in design, quality and characterisation and we knew from previous successes that kids really do love to play and collect Crazy Bones. We are also in the fortunate but unusual position of having a product that appeals to boys and girls across a large age range.”

The launch of the second series is set to keep the craze hot for longer.

“Gogo’s Crazy Bones Evolution launched mid-September. This is a collection of 80 ‘Evolved’ characters and includes a sticker album/comic and storage bags. An extensive campaign of TV advertising and sampling commenced at the end of September. The licensing programme is also underway and we have had tremendous interest in the brand. A broad range of products from high quality licensees will be coming to market in the next few months.”

It’s not the first time the firm has launched a product craze. “Magic Box is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of children’s collectables,” says Harper. “We produce sticker collections, trading cards, trading card games and collectable toys. Our biggest success story before was Shoot Out – The Official F.A. Trading Card Game.”

The real triumph for Crazy Bones is in breaking into the multiples. Woolies does particularly well and the raised awareness from licensing deals will only accelerate the process.
“It is not exclusively independents, but they are certainly doing well with the product.”

Products like Crazy Bones can only happen where that indefinable unknown quantity can see some lines take-off while more big budget attempts can fall flat.



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