December 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 12
Rubber Band Wars Break Out in Specialty
Hot Trend Stretches Concept of Fair Play
With additional reporting by Julie L. Jones
If you think dolls fight dirty, then you haven't been zapped by a silicone animal band.
Top Trenz Inc. began distributing animal rubber bands a few years ago after discovering them on the open market, then dropped the silicone novelty about a year later because they weren't "the hottest rage" and the supplier stopped carrying them. It picked the bands back up from a different wholesaler in the last several weeks due to customer request, Vice President Jamie Glassberg told TDmonthly.
He questions suppliers to ensure the uniqueness of the 1 percent of Top Trenz-distributed products his company does not self-manufacture, he said. According to Glassberg, the manufacturer who sold Top Trenz the animal rubber bands told him, "You're fine; there's no worries on this product."
Glassberg, however, thinks the craze will be short lived.
"We will not even attempt to manufacture this and [will] just be a distributor," he said, "because anything that is this hot, the fire in months to come gets put out quickly due to oversaturation."
AGGRESSION MAY WIN
Marc Cooperman, an attorney with Banner & Witcoff, encourages small companies and independent inventors who believe their patents have been violated to try to negotiate informally with the other companies to resolve the issue. He also mentioned that firms specializing in intellectual property protection, including his, may be willing to reduce their rates to help individuals in such cases.
David E. Fitzgibbons, a toy consultant and headhunter for Executive Search Group, recommends to most small companies and inventors that they not obtain patents or copyrights owing to the high expense of the legal work and the short shelf-life of toys. Instead, he encourages aggressive branding and quick responses.
"Being first to market gives the inventor some leverage in the hope that s/he can build a brand that makes the competitor's clone product a 'second class citizen,'" Fitzgibbons told TDmonthly. "S/he can further seek to stabilize their line by offering innovative line extensions and not sitting still while the competition attacks them. I would hope the manufacturer will enjoy some economies of scale and be able to price aggressively. It is my experience that being aggressive in every facet of the product life cycle is the best defense against all adversaries."
Below are the combatants in the latest battle on the specialty field:
Animal Rubber Bands by EASTERN ACCENT INTERNATIONAL
Other products from EASTERN ACCENT INTERNATIONAL
Animal Rubber Bands were designed by Haneda & Ohashi of Passkey Design in Tokyo in 2002. They were awarded Best Design for 2003 at the Japanese National Competition; the Toyota Prius had won the previous year. "Ours are the original animal rubber bands and come in three styles: pet, zoo and dino," said Carol Shapanka of Eastern Accent International. " They're made of silicone and produced and packaged in Japan. Japanese products are produced under strict standards. Factory conditions and the welfare of the workers is just as important as the products coming out of the factory.” The boxed set comes with 24 pieces in a sturdy snap box. The cards have one of each of the pet, zoo or dino animals. Launch date for Animal Rubber Bands: 2002. Launch date for Dinos: 2007.
— TDmonthly Magazine first reported on Animal Rubber Bands by Eastern Accent on July 27, 2005; one store manager compared their popularity to that of Ty's Beanie Babies. They had also been featured in a 2002 New York Magazine "Best Bets" article.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26199 (added 11/25/2009)
Animal Rubber Bands - Zoo by EASTERN ACCENT INTERNATIONAL
Other products from EASTERN ACCENT INTERNATIONAL
These brightly-colored silicone bands work like ordinary rubber bands when stretched, but revert to giraffes, rhinos, kangaroos, elephants, ostriches and hippos when relaxed. The work of Japanese designers Yumiko Ohashi and Masanori Haneda, whose mission is to endow longevity on disposable items, the bands are one of the hottest items for little girls at The Purple Bear in Guilford, Conn. Kids collect them and share them with friends. "It´s like the Beanie Babies," declared Jeanne Orlando, store manager. "They´re very, very popular. They´re a big hit with little kids," said Chris Kline, sales associate of the Museum of Modern Art´s Design Store in New York City. They also sell very well at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art´s store. Most toy stores aren´t carrying them yet, but they´re not only popular with Tween girls at Learning Express stores, but are "picking up," said senior buyer Sandie Pardiso. Twenty-four animals come in each box. They´re also available as a Pets line and on a card with six animals. Editor's Note: Animal Rubber Bands became a hot fad across the country in 2009. TDmonthly first reported on their potential as a top-seller in 2005. Launch date: 2002.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4040 (added 7/27/2005)
This 24-pack of colorful silicone bands features dogs, cats, ducks, turtles, rabbits and pigs that are die molded. They can be treated as traditional rubber bands and worn as bracelets but spring back into their original pet shape when not in use.
— TDmonthly first reported on the popularity of Animal Rubber Bands in 2005. That product was designed by Yumiko Ohashi and Masonar Haneda of Passkey Design and distributed in the U.S. by Eastern Accent International. Toysmith also has a very similar product that debuted at Toy Fair 2009.
— Marie Yakes, owner of the Papillon, Neb., Sweet & Sassy party and spa shop told TDmonthly in mid-November 2009 that she was eagerly awaiting her first shipment of rubber band animals, scheduled to arrive the next day. She said one of the other franchise owners was "doing $3,000 a weekend in those silly Silly Bandz. And she gets calls about them!" Yakes said the bands have been banned in Tennessee schools, so she's hoping to get some good press out of their Nebraska debut.
— Animal rubber band bracelets were listed as a top-10 best seller online by Owner David Davis of RoundTable Toys in Winterville, N.C., in January 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26052 (added 11/12/2009)
These colorful rubber bands function like traditional bands but feature fun animal shapes when not holding something together.
— "We got 270 packages on Thursday and were sold out by Saturday morning. High school, middle school and elementary school kids are all buying them," Katie Rook, owner of Be Beep A Toy Shop in Columbia, S.C., told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
— Editors Note: This item is very similar to the Animal Rubber Bands by Eastern Accent Int'l, first reported by TDmonthly in 2005.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25538 (added 10/6/2009)
These animal-shaped rubber bands come in 12 piece blister packs. Themes include sea animals, farm animals, dinosaurs, zoo animals, cars, and shapes. These rubber bands can be used for many different functions including a bracelet around the wrist.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26267 (added 12/4/2009)
Catalog Request Form
Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author
Editorial Calendar Events & Trade Shows Media Kit Request Product Information PlayZak®
Look up Manufacturers at ToyDirectory.com®
Copyright © 2015 TDmonthly®, a division of TOYDIRECTORY.com®, Inc.