Toy company in 2020, seeking feedback and advice.

by bombaybull. Posted on Sep 14, 2020    8    48


No prior experience with toys as a business.

Products in focus:

  1. Collectible action-figures
  2. Animals (stuffed)
  3. Building block toys
  4. Puzzles
  5. Board games, and
  6. Science based.

(All in-house design, manufacturing outsourced, no license work)

Target markets: US, EU, UK, India.

Aiming to fill a small part of the void in the market created by negative sentiment for chinese imports and bans.

I know such toys are already available in the market but I am trying to make it a bit more exciting for the kids and also on a premium but very affordable side as price is what matters most to the parents (by my observation).

I know it’s not going to be easy but people really underestimate a child’s ability to persuade their parents.

Will focus on building a decent brand, offering cheaper alternatives to parents and subscription boxes.

Any advice? Thanks.


Comments

HueMensRDUMB 1

Hey, you able to get shallow water toys for children 2-5 that have pasted the child safety act? Im lookin for an importer

  bombaybull 1

I’ll look into that for sure.

AnonJian 1

No. Any mistakes will be dealt with.

>I know it’s not going to be easy but people really underestimate a child’s ability to persuade their parents.

You'll either discuss the way to get kids on your side or you're just making kids out to be the magic leprechaun which pulls your ass out of the fire for no particular reason.

This 'and then a miracle happens' really ought to be fleshed out in your cunning plan. It has been tried a bunch. It doesn't work.

So start with the thing you have not even hinted you understand will result in a success you have not explained in the least. I'll wait. Demerits will be issued for kids are this enormous influence yet nobody will spend any money because they secretly hate a child's happiness -- not in any way because none of your products has the slightest demand.

xeneks 2

Toys designed to encourage kids to get out of the bedroom or house and out into nature or parks.

Things you can put in trees, getting them to look up? Things that fly in the sky. Things that transform and look amazing in sunlight but bland when inside.

Toys you can put in streams or puddles - but that aren’t so bad for the environment if left behind.

Toys that can be readily made look ‘like new’ by washing with an old toothbrush.

Toys that are engineered using ‘single material design’ so they can be recycled as is, without requiring separation or disassembly.

Toys that have intelligent secondary secret science purpose, not disclosed on the packaging.

Eg. A toy electric car that has a magnifying glass inside if you pull on the bumper bar. A toy sailboat that comes with a reusable PH tester when you remove the flag.

Toys that encourage kids playing or talking with members of the opposite sex. Eg. Toys made for boys that really attract girls. Toys for girls that pique the interest of boys. Not sure how to pull this off - needs a better mind than mine.

  bombaybull 2

That’s a lot of info and ideas right there. That’ll take some time to sink in hahah. Thanks for this! Means a lot to me.

xeneks 2

No probs! Good luck, and may an excellent education serve you well, no matter if it’s formal, traditional, or not at all. My final observation.

Toys that break and are discarded but have real value to people who are able to look beyond the immediate ‘this doesn’t work’. Eg. A kids educational device (visualise a cheap calculator or children’s cash register accepting NFC coins) that looks like typical junk but when you open to check the battery you see a raspberry pi zero SBC that is removable without screwdrivers.

It’s a toy that is built on a tool that holds value as it’s open, reusable, repurpose-able and exchangeable or maybe even upgradable.

  bombaybull 1

Thanks for that, I’ll keep that mind! That’s a wonderful idea btw.

Putrid-Excitement 2

I'd start with the customer and the market competitors first. the bottom line is the golden offer that sells itself, and people want to buy. The priority and emphasis is critical. The priority imo is getting kids together and showing them better versions of the toys and asking what they like, what they want. What toys they like, how they like to play. Do the market research too. You need the insight to find the new thing to make that's 10x better. Market those features and benefits. Promote. Get the right product developers, designers, manufacturers.

An example might be that you do hours and hours of research. You realize adults like games like 'cards against humanity', and they like this subscription game (a new set of cards every month) where they get sent a real life murder mystery cold case, and they try to solve it. You also figure kids kind of hate learning games their parents force on them. So, you figure can you make some sort of subscription card game, where you simulate practice, and it's fun. A card game where you teach middle school math, science, art. With the games made with the top math teacher, or the top science teacher. So, you have a set of cards that use math, science, and art to draw a very very basic blue print and artistic render of a house, car, ect. Repeating this for many different jobs. So it is teaching the skills, while also help kids explore potential jobs. To me this is a 10x improvement to learning games. The offer you make has to be golden. Lots of research and siphoning ideas from different things is the key.

I'd first spend time focus testing and working out a single or set of products that is your golden product. One that kids like. You must validate this learning subscription game for example, and get kids and parents that fawn over it and beg for the new cards cause it helps their kids so much. Then you can proceed to the next steps. If all things works great then you need to improve your team to be top notch, and really keep improving in all ends so you can grow, scale, and profit. For the example, if it works then it can really be promoted by youtuber personalities into puzzles, and infotainment.

  bombaybull 1

bows down

This is one of the best comments so far. I had planned to proceed exactly like this only I never looked into the card + learning thing so deeply.

I highly appreciate you taking out the time and writing this. 🙏🏻

Putrid-Excitement 2

Good luck! The kids learning market is huge. I don't exactly know all the things about this industry, and someone that is an ultra expert... that is almost like a rainman of everything kids toys/games, and adult games can give you golden insights that would take you forever to learn. I would consult with one of these people even for <3 hours or so. Along with continually learning about the industry.

I would image to know the industry like an expert, also, doing your own brainstorming of what trends are selling, what trends you think might emerge, what products are selling is important. All the basic research to understand the market and how customer's segment, and the basic overview. From this starting point you have some clay to play with. You can start to see interesting ideas that others have SUCCESSFULLY done, and then see if you can implement many different prevalidated SUCCESSFUL ideas, and mix in your own ideas. Which in my idea came up with innovating children's learning by gamifying it. The main concern kids have is 'why am I learning this', and now you can incorporate math, science, art, and so on into learning a trade. This of course requires really really strong competence of having top level consultants/teachers that know how to simplify tough subjects into simple ways. In order for this game to work it requires the game maker to be able to teach the skill simply and at a high level.


I would also create really solid processes. Processes for the purpose of getting a thorough discovery phase (market research, brainstorm), a formulate phase(create viable options), and finally an implementation phase (finalizing, and implementing). In the end it is structuring it so you perform really well. If you can document it, and make it into a process, you can create a consistent, and optimal result. So, I'd make sure you have the capabilities in place so you can get solid strategy, solid product development, solid marketing and branding. If you can have solid control of these things you can make your offer golden, which in turn create superior profits. Being able to do get the best outcome is the key. Control over critical aspects is key.Top down approach is key. Optimization is the only way.

Good luck!

  bombaybull 1

Can’t thank you enough! Will take notes and make sure I do it the right way!

TabascoWolverine 2

Build AR toys for the digital space. Everything else you're listing is incredibly expensive with long long ROI potential.

  bombaybull 2

My manufacturing is India, I’ll be able to get them for cheap but yea breaking even would require a healthy cash inflow. I don’t have a problem with that but I am a bit skeptical of what really the demand is all about. I am currently diving deep into that. There’s an opportunity for sure tho.

I am not into AR but thanks for the idea, that’s worth looking into. I do have a guy who might know about building AR objects.

TabascoWolverine 2

Takes up less space!

SafetyMan35 2

Toys are VERY highly regulated around the world. Don't forget to budget for testing and certification for the products which can take months and tens of thousands of dollars to complete.

https://business.cpsc.gov/robot/

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/toys/safety_en

  bombaybull 1

Hey man, thanks for letting me know that. That’s a crucial piece of info. Thanks for those links too.

johndamaia 2

>I am trying to make it a bit more exciting for the kids

If you really think you have an edge there, I'd suggest you try it within a niche first. Maybe a couple of local stores within your neighbourhood and expand from there. At least you will get your feet wet and learn from the experience.

  bombaybull 2

Yes thats the plan!

Zavoyevatel 2

Yea, toys are a tough market. My startup is focusing on board and card games which is also a tough market because supply is high and demand is low.

Most of the big money in games lies in trading cards like Magic The Gathering that can draw tournament money / sponsorship funding.

Anything dealing with kids nowadays requires a lot of testing. I know a woman whose startup is making robots that teach kids reading and math. She has gotten some sales but it’s been ridiculously slow and she has been working at it for 5 years now.

Kids also have A LOT of options to choose from nowadays. Tablets with thousands of apps. Cell phones. Video games. Existing board games. Books. Web apps, etc, etc. Yes, parents will pay for more but you have to prove the cost is worth it. “Will my child play with this thing once and never touch it again?” —> That’s the kind of question you have to ask. Step into the parent’s shoes.

Subscription boxes are slowly dying. It’s the truth no one wants to acknowledge. Unless you are pushing beauty or health products you won’t find a lot of demand unless your products are revolutionary.

Enough criticism. Time for some advice.

1.) Validate your idea first. Make some prototype toys or games, make a prototype subscription box slap some pictures online and see who signs up.

2.) Talk to some parents. See if they would be interested. One of your points is “anti-China” so figure out if anyone seems interested because otherwise they will continue to buy toys from China.

3.) Understand thoroughly how you will compete against non-profits who donate toys to schools and orgs. What kind of toys are you making that demands someone open their wallet.



This sub-reddit can be really dismissive of ideas, so I don’t want to come across like that. However, you really need to focus on how you are different from what’s available. Look at the story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It took them having a manager and he slaved to get them a deal.

  bombaybull 2

This is the best comment so far. Exactly what I needed. This validates a lot of things that i haven’t written about.

I highly appreciate your comment and would like to be in touch.

Do you mind dropping an email at k@karanb.com?

Thanks again!

Zavoyevatel 2

Sure. I’ll send you an email later today! No problem. I love strategizing!

gavion92 2

Just curious, how did you go about finding a manufacturer? Do you create the designs using 3d modeling and then send those to the manufacturer and receive prototypes to verify quality control?

  bombaybull 1

First prototypes using 3d, then local contract manufacturing for mass prod. I have a couple here in India.

gavion92 2

Thats sweet I've always wanted to make my own custom figurines. Is it hard to learn the 3d software?

  bombaybull 1

Oh I am sorry, I have no idea. I am lucky to have a friend who’s knowledgeable of that subject. I wish I could provide specific guidance. But I think, it wouldn’t be that hard. Perhaps you should start with youtube and after building basics, move on to a professional course or school or something online on similar grounds.

gavion92 1

You got it man, I appreciate the insight and wish you well in your ventures. If you ever need any accounting help or advice dm me

Asilsu 2

Make a cartoon, make it popular at the same time make the merchandise, worked with almost all the great hits.

  bombaybull 1

That be a tough job tbh. I’ll probably have to hire creative teams and animators for that. I don’t think I’d be able to do that any better than people who are already doing that.

Making a cartoon is easy, popularising it would require a lot of capital and contacts in the broadcasting industry.

Asilsu 2

Yeah I know it would be pricey, but you say that you are using the kids ability to persuade theirs parents to buy, do you have and strategy about that? That why the bigs brands make an extra to connect with the kids, a cartoon, a song or something.

Well, we are in a new era where some underground stuff pick popularity quite fast like, baby shark, second you are getting in a competition in a agresive area, and kids are very selective with the aperiance of the final product. Did you made the market survey? Or at least an analysis about you and you competition? A swot? And sorry for been that kind of person that make enquires, is good to take the leap but just think a little about that kind of situations.

  bombaybull 1

Yea I completely agree with what you are saying. I do have a couple of ideas. I am going to get prototypes and use them for feedbacks first. I think market research and customer feedback is the key here.

Btw you got that right with the shark thing... I am really trying to build something that might go viral.. but yea let’s see.

I’ll try to update as soon as possible.

coherentpixel 3

I manufactured about 60K sets of custom printed wood game tokens for a board game a few years back. The game developer had good connections and got it into target. He had to offshore the production to get the price down to Target levels. The game didn't sell well and Target dumped it at about $4 a game. He did a successful $40K kickstarter campaign and some great marketing using a guy in a van driving around the country for six months promoting it. In the end a lot of work for little reward.

  bombaybull 1

Damn, that’s a good lesson tho.

TabascoWolverine 1

Sounds predictable now. Sad.

cheesehead144 3

Theres a lot of safety tests you have to pass for toys. Like 5k-10k per product I'm pretty sure. Makes it difficult to break in.

  bombaybull 2

Cash is not a problem as I won’t be exporting to the west initially. I don’t have any capital constraints but still, don’t want to start shelling out on things I know aren’t feasible in the beginning. Many countries don’t have such strict regulations for instance India. I’ll be starting off small there, build a brand, get revenue going and then move to more sophisticated markets.

cheesehead144 2

Makes sense. The one thing I'll say is if everyone else says it's hard then theres probably an opportunity. You want to be working on hard challenged not on what everyone else is working on.

  bombaybull 1

Exactly!

LL112 7

Brutal market. Have huge budget or loyal niche following before even considering it.

  bombaybull 1

My first target market is India where there are fewer regulations and less competition. Once I build a brand and start getting revenue, that’s when I want to move to the west where there are better sophisticated markets.

Even now capital isn’t a problem, i just want to make my product to either go viral or become an affordable substitute to expensive imports.

I am also considering a royalty based business just in case the product succeeds.

Thanks for the comment!

LL112 2

Well good luck with that, do let us know how you get on.

  bombaybull 1

🙏🏻

Nose_Grindstoned 3

Yeah, I was going to reply too with something similar... very tough market. But having said that, (and assuming all your safety protocols are in place) I bet there’s a marketing trick/strategy involving getting the kids excited enough to bug their parents to buy, and not just marketing to the purchaser of the toys.

I’d also spend a lot of time/effort reaching out to find bulk orders and reoccurring orders. The trouble with children’s orgs and schools is they have minimal funding, and donations fill in any toy voids.

There are these kids, young YouTubers with hundreds of thousands of followers. They unbox toys and play with them. That’s your influencer.

Edit: fixed typos

  bombaybull 1

Got you!

gavion92 3

Very good thought process on sending the toys to children youtubers... It is still mind boggling these children are millionaires from filming themselves. Crazy world.

Nose_Grindstoned 1

I don’t think most are millionaires, but it’s definitely impressive and mind boggling that kids have an outlet to be able to pull in massive incomes.

I do think the kids that are successful with their youtube unboxing channels have help and support from adults. Always a bonus to have some staff.

RadFink 8

Go Kickstarter first - pre market interest and funding.

MaximilianBlomqvist 1

I think this is a great idea actually.

  bombaybull 1

Wow, i never thought of that! Thanks !