A Star is Born: Electronics for Infant
When it comes to toys, Eric Toriumi, general manager of
Star Electronics, knows what he’s talking about. Besides
being a father to three children, he has worked for Learning Curve, Learning
Resources, and Tiger Electronics before founding Star Electronics. “It was
a dream that some Hong Kong associates and I have had for a number of years,”
Torumi says. “A feeling that we can do things differently.” Located in Arlington
Heights, IL, the company specializes in creating toys for infant and preschool-age
children that combine a home-made, huggable quality with today’s technology.
Eric Toriumi and the KaraoKid Music Box
We introduced ourselves to the industry at Toy Fair 2001 with a belief
that, "through diligence and infinite creativity, humor and total
objectivity, Star Electronics will be devoted to creating
innovative and fun toys that encourage developmental growth and awareness."
As a smaller company, we have the ability to take some chances and expand
on some proven styles of game play by adding creative twists and interesting
themes. Our Animal Snackers feeding bowls "magically"
make animal sounds every time a child takes the spoon out of the dish
to eat. Our Karaokid Music Box includes an actual microphone
and speaker so children can sing up to five pre-recorded nursery rhymes
just like they are performing on stage. We try to include a little bit
of our corporate philosophy into every toy we develop, which is to have
fun, think like a kid, but also understand what helps a parent be successful.
At this time, we feel that our product line is best suited for the specialty
independent and specialty chain market. With our vibrant colors and cute
designs, I feel we are also a perfect fit for the catalog and online retail
markets. As we continue to build brand awareness and develop exciting,
innovative products, I believe other opportunities will present themselves.
How to Reach the Fans
Eco Park Sensory Mat
First, by understanding the market(s) you wish to reach. [This means]
visiting stores and talking with the staff, as well as communicating with
the buyers and the parents that support these markets. With this knowledge,
you have a much better chance of producing a product, package and marketing
approach that will not only appeal to your targeted markets, but also
will make it easier for these retailers to be successful with your brand.
Initial successes or failures should be reviewed and understood for future
reference, but they should not move you from the course to which you are
Tug a Bug Push Toy
We have had a wonderful response to our Eco Park Sensory Mat.
With its vibrant design, soothing sounds of nature and ecological theme,
this item is very different from most products you will find in the market.
We also feel that our prices are very competitive, which is a great advantage
in our current economy. Our Tug a Bug Push Toy has also
been very well received. The cute design and combination of soft plush
and sturdy plastic make this product very appealing to kids. I also feel
that the fun melodies (including “La Cucaracha”) are enjoyable and different,
not only for the children but for the parents as well.
I feel there is currently a guarded optimism in the toy industry. Unfortunately,
many of the forces that have the greatest effect on the industry are outside
of our control. It is our responsibility to push ourselves to create the
next great toy. Children in this country, as well as around the world,
must have something, toys, dolls or even a favorite blanket, that brings
them back to a more innocent time. It is especially important for Star
Electronics, as a manufacturer of toys for young children, to continue
to introduce products that encourage social awareness and parental involvement,
as well as non-violence.
My greatest concern is the popular thought that "there's nothing
new in the Toy industry" [will take hold]. We take that as a corporate
challenge here at Star. Adding creativity and innovation to new product
takes singular focus, a willingness to continually question all aspects
of your products from concept through production, and the determination
to stand up for what you believe in. Many manufacturers have created fresh,
innovative toys recently, and though they are not always the most publicized
or promoted products in the industry, I believe they will be successful
based on their creativity and merit.