Anatomy of a blockbuster toy: Aquadoodle

Despite not being one of Tomy’s own brands, Pilot’s Aquadoodle licence has flourished under the company in the UK. Spawning different lines, embraced by different licences and providing kids with water-based fun that doesn’t stain, Billy Langsworthy talks to Tomy’s Hayley Woodward about how the Aquadoodle has remained a family favourite for ten years
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Since launching ten years ago, Aquadoodle has been on the UK market in a number of different forms.

A favourite with several different children’s licences, the drawing- based toy has proved a versatile, and incredibly popular, piece of kit.

“Aquadoodle is celebrating its tenth birthday this year,” Aquadoodle brand manager Hayley Woodward explains to ToyNews.

“Having started out as the ‘Classic Aquadoodle’, the brand has evolved to include character licensed play mats, travel drawing bags and mini mats which are ideal for learning to colour within lines.

“Aquadoodle has topped the NPD charts since 2007 as the brand leader in Mechanical Drawing as the range continues to evolve.”

Water, a special pen and a mat. It’s not the most technically advanced toy you’ll read about in these pages but Tomy believes simple, clean play is always a winner with parents and kids, as the Aquadoodle’s success proves.

“Consumers continue to return to Aquadoodle as it’s the original and the best Mechanical Drawing product,” adds Woodward.

“Designed specifically for those creative first steps, Aquadoodle encourages creative play in pre-schoolers.

“And as there’s no messy ink, just water, parents can relax in the knowledge that there’ll be no stains on the carpets.

“Whether it’s doodling on the go, getting creative on the large mats with friends or doing their first colouring in, Aquadoodle has something for everyone.”

To date, children’s animation royalty including the likes of Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty have graced Aquadoodle, helping to expand its product range and potential customer base.

Woodward enthused: “From Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to Disney Princess, Peppa Pig, Winnie the Pooh, Jake the Pirate and Hello Kitty, there is something for boys and girls.

“Traditionally there are three key products to the brand: the large and original Classic and Rainbow Aquadoodle mat, the mini mats and the travel drawing bags.

“The ranges are expanded thanks to character licences and themed lines, such as popular licences Peppa Pig, Disney Princess large mats and the Jungle Sounds Aquadoodle, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Mini Mats, and the Hello Kitty travel drawing bag.”

And the range is set to expand even further throughout next year.

With Jake the Pirate joining the Aquadoodle family, Tomy believes that 2014 will be an important year for the product. And Woodward teases that some big changes are coming to Aquadoodle in 2015.

“2014 will see yet more exciting new licences added to the range.

“We’ll be welcoming Jake the Pirate to the large mat portfolio for 2014.

“We are not complacent; we want to keep our top spot in the arts and crafts rankings.

“2015 will be the year to keep an eye on Aquadoodle, as some exciting new innovation to the range is on its way.”

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DOODLING ADS

Tomy uses a range of different means to draw attention to the latest Aquadoodle products and although a traditional toy, the company isn’t afraid of utilising digital to show it off.

“We use a full mix of advertising designed to target mums, kids and gift givers,” says Aquadoodle brand manager Hayley Woodward.

“These include TV advertising, pre-roll on ITV Player and 4oD, editorial and reviews, online competitions and reviews.

“We also try to secure product placement where possible, such as the Wacky Warehouse chain.”

FLOOR PLAN

A toy using water that doesn’t make a mess is a pipedream for some parents, but the Aquadoodle isn’t a mirage.

It’s a floor toy that doesn’t destroy the carpet, making it just as popular with parents as it is with their children.

“Safe for those first creative steps, Aquadoodle encourages creative play in children aged 18 months and up,” says Woodward.

“As there’s no messy ink – just water – parents can relax in the knowledge that there’ll be no stains on the carpets. Simply fill the special Aquadoodle Pen with water, doodle on the durable mat and watch as the drawings magically appear – with no transference of colour onto hands or clothes.

“Once the water evaporates, the child can produce another creation – therefore playtime lasts a long time,” Woodward continues.

TOP OF THE CLASS

While perfect for doodling the day away, the Aquadoodle doesn’t only send the creative cogs spinning for children.

Woodward states: “The award-winning range of products not only encourages creativity. The alphabet can be learnt with the Classic mat and animal sounds recognised with the Jungle Magic Sounds mat.

“The mini mats are ideal for learning to colour in-between the lines too. All mats are highly durable so there’s no deterioration in play value too.”

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