INTERVIEW: Paul Solomon, Moose Toys

Moose Toys Paul Solomon tells ToyNews how the firm has high hopes for new brands The Zelfs, The Ugglys and Glitzi Globes following the success of The Trash Pack
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Can you give us a rough overview of how you’ve performed in general over the past 12 months?

Moose Toys has experienced tremendous growth globally over the past twelve months. Our brands have done exceptionally well in the U.S. since we introduced The Trash Pack in 2011 and that has led to even more growth in 2013.

Over the last year, The Trash Pack has grown into a thriving brand that has fans clamoring for new Trashies and Trash Pack products. The success of The Trash Pack catapulted Moose into the American market and led to the launch of four additional successful brands in 2012. This fall, we will launch three entirely new brands that we anticipate will be equally as popular as our existing ranges.

Our company is really making a name for itself in the American marketplace. We have successfully launched products in a number of categories, from vehicles to arts and crafts to collectibles, year over year, and we hope to continue this success throughout 2013. We also take a lot of inspiration from the market and keep an eye on relevant trends to ensure our products are timely and appealing.

Can you give us a rundown of your big products and plans for 2013?

We are thrilled to introduce three new brands – The Zelfs, The Ugglys and Glitzi Globes – in the fourth quarter. The Zelfs are whimsical, quirky collectible dolls that come from the garden of Zardenia. This new IP is a collaboration of themes – fantasy, friendship and humor – that are popular with girls. Each Zelf has a power represented by a Zelfmark, colorful spike-tacular and style-able hair, pose-able arms and legs, and matching charms and hair accessories that girls can use to style and tame their Zelf’s hair. There are more than 12 Zelfs characters to collect in small, medium and large sizes.

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The success of The Trash Pack has confirmed what we have always believed to be true: boys love to be grossed out! With this in mind, we are introducing The Ugglys, a line of the ugliest dogs! These electronic pets fart, burp and make over 30 repulsive and hilarious noises that are sure to provide entertainment during the holiday season.

The third brand we’re introducing this fall is Glitzi Globes, an arts and crafts line that lets girls create their own mini, collectible snow globes. The globes are perfect for trading with friends and can be used as jewelry pieces, pencil toppers, and collectible décor.

We are also expanding some of our most popular brands in the U.S. This spring, we introduced a new Trash Pack brand, UFTs – Trashies that battle each other with “weapons” such as toilet plungers and chicken drumsticks. This fall, we will introduce Trash Wheels, a new play on the Trashies that kids know and love – they’ll be on wheels! Early sales show kids are pretty excited by these mucky movers!

Micro Chargers experienced a roaring start in 2012 and we are thrilled to introduce new LED Racer and Hyper Dome sets and expandable tracks this fall. We are also expanding within the arts and crafts category this holiday season with new introductions to our popular Blingles and Gelarti lines.

We are also seeing similar success stories in the global market, in which we have strong distributors that manage our brands in their territories. Trash Pack is having great success in Israel, Blingles is a star performer in many markets, including Japan, while Gelarti continues to bring joy to many kids in the U.K., Germany, France and Canada as they paint their own stickers for decorating their belongings!

The Trash Pack has performed well – what’s next for that licence?

The Trash Pack continues to grow in 2013 and fans are more dedicated to the brand than ever. Just this spring, a limited edition Trashie sold for $1,000 on eBay!

The UFTs has given children a new way to play and collect the gross gang from the garbage. We’re also continually working with licensees to bring The Trash Pack to kids in fun, new ways; the property has translated seamlessly from the toy aisle into console gaming, books and games, apparel, candy, backpacks and more.

We are excited to introduce Trash Pack Series 4 and Trash Wheels this fall. Series 4 will include red bins, more than 100 new Trashies, including ultra-rare beach Trashies, and new play sets that will encourage play among dedicated and new fans of the brand. The Trashies that kids know and love will now have their own set of wheels with the introduction of Trash Wheels. Each mobile Trashie features the same rubbery texture that kids love to squish and squeeze, and with more than 75 vehicles to collect, kids will love competing against their friends for a rancid race.

Are there any particular sales rises or estimations you’d like to highlight for any of your brands? Perhaps some of them are smashing targets or have surprised you in other ways?

The Trash Pack has truly turned into a worldwide phenomenon for our company. We recently hit $150 million in global sales for the brand and the success has led to the growth of the line – including UFT and the upcoming Trash Wheels. Once UFT launched in the U.S., it sold out in just three weeks. Besides the incredible sales figures, the devotion to our brand is something that truly amazes me. Kids worldwide are amassing unbelievable collections and love to trade them among each other (much to the dismay of many schools!).

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Are there any other territories you’re looking to expand to or focus on this year?

We’ve been very lucky to have found success in the global market with our brands and pride ourselves on being able to develop and customize products for different territories. We export to approximately 75 countries around the world, working with exceptional local partners who distribute our products in those markets. We have seen many great successes over the years thanks to our partners’ knowledge, passion and reputation in their home territories. Ultimately, it is our goal to get our products into the hands and hearts of children worldwide, so we’re looking forward to seeing children’s excitement for the new brands we’re introducing this year.

Do you have any other distribution or other partnerships in the works? 

We have a lot of exciting partnerships in the works in addition to the new lines we’re introducing later in the year. We can’t reveal any details now – but the news will be worth the wait!

Do you have plans to open offices in countries other than Australia? (and do you have offices elsewhere?)

We are set to open a new state-of-the-art office in Australia. As our business has grown, so has our need to increase our staff. The new office will accommodate our growing needs for sales force, designers, etc. On the U.S. front, we have recently opened an office in California to accommodate the needs of our customers. We are growing rapidly in the U.S., and therefore, needed a dedicated team to support our retail partners and continue our growth. We also have offices in Hong Kong, China and the UK.

Looking at your portfolio, what should retail be most excited about this year?

Retailers should be most excited about our variety of product offerings and our track record for conceptualizing and bringing innovative, quality products to consumers. Further, we pride ourselves in being strong marketers. We communicate with our consumer in a traditional way, using TV advertising, publicity and media reviews, including both traditional and new media. We also like to experiment with out-of-the-box ideas to ensure we continue to excite and engage our customers. We also continue to work closely with our retail partners to ensure they can differentiate themselves, including the development of exclusive items and marketing initiatives that appeal to their consumers.

Do you have any big marketing plans in the works?

We’re always brainstorming big marketing ideas for our brands. In 2012, we delivered the latest series of The Trash Pack to Toys“R”Us Times Square in NYC in a giant garbage truck. We’ve since delivered toys to thousands of children at children’s hospitals around the globe. From in-store feature shops to consumer events, we continually look for opportunities to market our brands.

What would you have liked to have achieved by the end of the year?

By the end of this year, we hope to see the same enthusiasm for The Zelfs as kids had and continue to have with The Trash Pack. Our talented team has always been able to forecast trends and bring relevant product to market in a timely fashion, and we think we have a hit on our hands with The Zelfs. While we, of course, hope to replicate the tremendous success we experienced as a business in 2012 in 2013, our ultimate goal is to continue bringing joy to children around the world through fun and innovative toys.

What are your sales expectations for Glitzi Globes following the award it picked up earlier this year? How has retail reacted to that product?

We are predicting that Glitzi Globes will be a successful addition to our growing arts & crafts line, and a leader in the market this holiday season. We are honoured that Glitzi Globes was named Toy of the Year at Australian Toy Fair, and we anticipate that the opportunity for creative play that Glitzi Globes provides children, coupled with the collectability aspect, will make it popular among consumers this fall. Retailers are also very excited about the introduction of the brand as it is an arts and crafts product that mixes creativity with collectability, two things that are always a success with girls.

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