During Spring 2014, I had just quit my communications associate position at a government agency to pursue a marketing career in a more exciting industry (come on, we all know how boring the government is).
My search ended when I met an intrepid new entrepreneur, by name of Harold Chizick. Harold had recently started ChizComm and invited me to join him in launching PowerUp 3.0 – a hot, new toy taking Kickstarter by storm.
As soon as I joined ChizComm, I fell in love with the Toy World and can’t imagine myself in any other industry.
Considering a career in toy? Here are a few insights to how the Toy Industry operates:
Each calendar year is divided into two seasons: Spring and Fall. For the Spring season, products hit shelves late February and run though until August, when Fall products start shipping.
For toy companies, the usual strategy is to release their lower priced products in Spring, saving their higher-priced, flagship products for the primary buying season of Fall. Collectables and outdoor toys usually do better in Spring as casual purchases. Meanwhile, high-tech toys are more gift oriented and sell better leading up to the holidays.
The term sizzle refers to internal product demonstration videos. Sizzles are the bread and butter of the toy industry and can be the difference between a prototype moving forward or getting dropped. It can also be the difference between a retailer ordering 10K units or 100K units.
During my tenure with Spin Master’s Air Hogs brand (after my first stint at ChizComm) the major challenge I encountered was working with finicky and fragile prototypes during sizzle production. You won’t believe the amount of times we used strings on prototype helicopters to fake flight functions. One time, I even ran around a local park with a plane in my hand with the camera focused only on the plane itself, as if it was soaring through the skies (Walmart actually ended up loving it).
Toy Fairs are fun, festive events full of costumed characters, interactive games, sweet snacks and of course the latest, greatest toy demonstrations. But guess what, kids are not allowed to attend! Toy Fairs are all business, with each brands beautifully displaying and presenting their line of products to potential retail buyers.
New York Toy Fair in particular is the super bowl of the Toy Industry. Although taking place in February, this show is specifically oriented around upcoming Fall products. NYTF is the last chance for Toy Companies to showcase their nearly finalized Fall products and hopefully increase current retail orders.
The Toy Industry is different every year with multiple variables influencing success or failure. One year you can have an absolute hit product but next year, that same product can be obsolete.
Yes, the Toy Industry is fast-paced, exciting, chaotic but oh, so fun.