Usain Bolt toy 'could've been exceptional'

But retailers and industry experts say licensed doll would have been a huge gamble.
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A Usain Bolt toy figure would have given retail a “massive sales surge” if it had launched before the Olympics, say retailers.

Toy industry experts are confident an officially licensed doll or action figure range of Usain Bolt, Team GB or other Olympic athletes would have sold ‘exceptionally well’, but also said that such products would involve a large amount of risk.

“Retail would have sold a decent volume of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis dolls,” ToyNews’ contributor and industry consultant Steve Reece. “The challenge is development cost and inventory risk. If Bolt got disqualified again, or if Ennis, Hoy or others pulled hamstrings, then the opportunity disappears, leaving hefty inventory in trade and at retail.

“Also, athletics product will work a bit like a movie – a massive surge, then it will fade away. With a movie the DVD release can supply a second spike a few months later, so the same inventory can be wheeled out, but with the Olympics it can't.”

Indie retailer and Toyology owner Gary Diamond added: “If we had them prior to the Olympics and they were as fantastically successful as London 2012, then I think the toy sales could have been exceptional. But there lies the gamble. Who knew how fantastic team GB would be. To introduce a range of post Olympics product may not have the impetus needed to be profitable and successful.”

Jamaica's Usain Bolt picked up his second gold medal during the London 2012 Olympic Games last night (August 9th) in the 200m sprint. He won gold in the 100m on Sunday, August 5th.

Reece also pointed out that sporting celebrities have ‘aggressive’ agents with ‘commercially unrealistic expectations’.

“They are likely to demand high up front fees, adding further to the risk,” he said. “So in essence there is an opportunity, but it's a very risky one versus all the other opportunities out there.”

Other retailers were more dubious of a successful Usain Bolt toy or Team GB dolls.

Cuthberts Toys’ Kirit Patel added: “The only Team GB items out in any figure form that we are aware of are the Lego Team GB minfigures. These are very popular and are our most successful Olympics related merchandise.

“Our view is that any other figures would probably not have worked.”

Bolt's agency, Pace Sports Management, has told ToyNews it does not currently have a toy partner.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for the London 2012. It has yet to respond to ToyNews' requests regarding the potential of official Team GB dolls.

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