Melbourne, Australia’s coastal city is known around the world for its vibrancy. A colourful sun–drenched metropolis, boasting not only a bustling city centre and gorgeous parks but also a world renowned Arts Precinct.
It’s no surprise then that Melbourne is the city that has spawned one of the most creative toy companies in the world, the company that has undeniably owned 2016.
We’re talking, of course, about Moose Toys.
Located within the sleek suburb of Cheltenham, the Moose Toys office is immediately recognisable as a house of creativity and imagination.
Approach Moose’s doors and you are greeted with a rainbow of colour and the unmistakable Moose head logo. Step inside and you’ll find yourself in a polished, ultra-modern office space akin to Silicon Valley tech hubs like Google, albeit with a twist – gorgeously decorated tree houses atop beanstalks that could have been plucked straight from a sector of Disneyland.
It’s an environment that fosters imagination, so it’s no coincidence that 2016’s biggest success stories were grown within it.
If you’re reading this then you are already well acquainted with Shopkins, the phenomenon that has swept the toy industry throughout 2015 and continued to storm through 2016 with record sales and a steady stream of new product.
Alongside Shopkins, Moose released Little Live Pets, a line of animal toys that captured the imagination of children all over the world with its bright designs and interactivity.
Paul Solomon believes that the secret to the line’s success is foresight and creativity. “The development of Little Live Pets came about when we saw an opportunity within the youth electronics category to come up with an affordable tech product with simple yet engaging features,” explains Solomon.
“We pride ourselves on our innovation and these products are both great examples of the team pre-empting what the market was looking for and then creating and launching a market leading brand.”
Solomon also attributes a great deal of the firm’s success to the dedication of its staff, and the harmony in which they work.
“It is a huge credit to our team and our partners globally that in less than three years, we have moved from having no presence within the category to now leading the youth electronics market led this holiday season with top ranking product, Snuggles My Dream Puppy.”
A key factor in the performance of the team is it’s focussed vision, one that stresses the importance of understanding the needs and tastes of it’s audience and Moose creates products to adapt to the audience’s ever-changing tastes.
The company has embraced new technologies, even going so far as to commission a tie-in Shopkins YouTube series.
Unboxing videos have lent a significant boost to Shopkins’ popularity, inspiring interaction and the development of a community around the collectables toys.
“Our consumers – kids – are getting more and more creative, aided by the accessibility of technology,” explains Solomon.
“This alone is enough to keep the toy industry on its toes to innovate and find new ways to engage kids.”
The theme of adventure and innovation is one that runs deep through Moose’s company ethos. Their company motto – “we’re in the business of making children happy” – is a sentiment that is echoed throughout their offices not only in Melbourne but also their locations in Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong.
The company’s philanthropic efforts come in the form of The Moose Foundation, which extends the company’s mission of ‘making children happy’ to children’s hospitals and areas of the world where kids have been affected by natural disasters, something that Solomon and the firm at large is immensely proud of.
In the midst of an uncertain economy, many toy firms will be tempted to play it safe, however Moose’s success reminds us of the importance of taking risks on original ideas.
When quizzed on the next big steps for the industry, Solomon continues to emphasise the importance of technology, as well as the all-important fun factor of the product itself.
“Technology is certainly playing a bigger part in toys we are seeing launched in market. As an industry, I believe we will continue to see innovation in how AR and VR will enhance how a child engages with a brand or product line. But I equally believe that the play factor of the toy itself has to be compelling for the brand to last longer than one season.”
2016 has been a year of growth for the company but as Solomon explains, the company has maintained its focus on what made it a success.
“There is no hiding that we have grown – by physical location, number of employees and size of Moose in the toy industry,” explains Solomon.
“With that comes more opportunities. However, we have strived hard to maintain a culture of innovation, collaboration and inclusiveness that allows all the team to play an active part in the business success.”
Looking ahead, Moose Toys is showing no signs of slowing down – or resting on its laurels.
“We want to keep doing what we have been doing: innovating, disrupting and building amazing partnerships.”
For Moose, the future holds more opportunities to add new dimensions to its brands, from home entertainment to games. Diversifying the range is sure to keep existing collectors hooked, while attracting new potential fans.
“We will continue to be inspired by how we can expand the world of Shopkins! We will also continue to evolve the brand into entertainment, with more things like the recently released Shopkins Chef Club DVD,” explains Solomon.
“We will also expand into new categories like craft and games and will continue to come out with great products.”
No matter what the future holds for Moose Toys, you can bet it will be approached with the same sense of adventure that has propelled it’s products to the top of the year’s best-selling toy list.