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August 2011 | Vol. X - No. 8
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Q & A With K. S. Hong, President of Aurora World Inc.

Brand Building and Hard Work are the Keys to Turning a Profit


“If you don't make a return to your investors, you’re not going to be successful.” K.S. Hong, President, Aurora World Inc.
We first had the opportunity to speak with K.S. Hong, president of AURORA WORLD INC., in 2006. We recently got back in touch to find out how the company has weathered new toy safety regulations, improved on old products, and branched out into television, and Hong shared with us some valuable advice: Hard work and good employees are important, but at the end of the day you need to be making money to survive.

Q. When we spoke in 2006, one of your best-selling products was your Fancy Pals Pet Carriers. What is your best selling item today?

A. Fancy Pals Pet Carriers continue to be a top seller for us- we have continued to develop them with fun and innovative fabrics and designs. However, our number one selling brand is YooHoo & Friends. These characters come in a variety of styles and sizes- and have the added value in that they are educational as they are based on endangered species. We have developed a great website around them, as well as an animation series that is currently under development. Both children and adults are collecting these fun characters by the dozen!

Q. How have new standards in toy testing over the past few years affected your company?

A. As we own our factories, we have been able to not only keep up with, but rather become a leader in safety and testing standards. We keep a constant watch on the standards to ensure we exceed these guidelines. Safety is our top priority here at Aurora, both for our employees and the end users.

Q. How do you think the market has changed in the past 5 years since we interviewed you? What are the biggest changes you've seen in plush?

A. Value added. Whether that be in sound, lights, web, or educational elements. Children and parents demand a greater value in their purchases, and we at Aurora strive to exceed those expectations. Our YooHoo & Friends line is a great example of that. Not only is there an entertaining website connected with the line, but it is also educational in that you can learn about the endangered species. Also, each plush animal makes a fun and whimsical sound, which really attracts the children…increased play value is key!

Q. Your business obviously has longevity. What have been Aurora's keys to success?

A. Our mission is to deliver Gifts of Smiles to our customers, employees, and communities. Our values really define who we are and what we strive to be- fantasy, fun, and family orientation for our customer & creativity, challenge, and collaboration for our employees. Our goal is to become the world’s leading character and contents company- each and every year we strive to make this a reality!

Q. One of your popular items, YooHoo & Friends, now has its own television show. What process did Aurora go through to develop this?

A. We began with the plush characters and then the website. The animation series was the next logical step in helping us to become a character and contents company- we want to do more than manufacture plush- we want to build worldwide brands. Obviously an animation series is a fantastic gateway to do this. We are in negotiations to bring this fun and educational series to TV sets around the world- and in our second season here in Korea. It is a very exciting time for Aurora as we continue to see the YooHoo & Friends brand soar!

Q. What advice would you give someone who was looking to get into the toy industry?

A. I would go back to what I always say: It comes down to three things- Hard work, good people and profit. If you don't make a return to your investors, you’re not going to be successful.




Launch Date: February 2011
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Collectibles



2011 marks the 30th Anniversary for plush toy and gift manufacturer Aurora World Inc. To celebrate, Aurora is offering a limited edition 30th Anniversary Bear plush toy. Limited the 1,200 pieces, the bear is made of Moda Acrylic plush. “30th Anniversary” is embroidered on its right paw pad. Mr. H.Y. Noh's (Aurora's Founder) signature and number (i.e.: 1/ 1200) is embroidered on the left foot.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31494      (added 1/13/2011)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 3 to 15
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Travel



Aurora World 10" Keep me comfy Gerome Giraffe Neckrest. This neckrest features giraffe design to wrap around neck with cute face. Aurora only uses lock washer or embroidered eyes and nose for safety.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32442      (added 6/14/2011)
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MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush
Tween
Novelties



Roxie the Doxie, a new character line whose life inspires adventurous young girls to learn more about the world’s most interesting cities, features plush animals, stationery and room décor for girls. Roxie the Doxie takes tweens along for the ride as she travels the globe to meet new friends and explore the food, fun and fashions other cultures have to offer. The smart and inquisitive Roxie likes exploring, discovering, learning new things, trying new foods, sharing with her friends and journaling about all her adventures. She travels a lot because her parents are diplomats and take her all over the world. Roxie keeps in touch with her friends by sending them postcards and emails. Each product offering will highlight the different locations Roxie visits; the first being Paris (next stop, London). The “dream” plush with journal has an MSRP of $20. Plush is safe for ages three and up.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32017      (added 3/24/2011)
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Age Range: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Travel
Plush



Part of Aurora's "Are We There Yet" collection, the My Name Is ID Tags feature a decorative plush animal charm, as well as a clip for hanging on luggage. Available in a six style assortment including monkey, giraffe, lion, shark, panda and gator.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31944      (added 3/16/2011)
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MSRP: $5.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Launch Date: February 2011
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush
General Toys
Gifts



From flower girl to firefighter, Aurora has released nine new "dress up" outfits that fit all of Aurora's five inch YooHoo & Friends. Each dress up set comes in clear packaging that includes two accessories. Retailers can combine the dress up packaging (fits slatwalls) with existing YooHoo & Friends displays. The "Blast to the Past" set includes three YooHoo & Friends "hippies.” Available separately are the "Go Green" set with two flower girls and a princess butterfly; and a third set that includes doctor, firefighter and police officer. Each 5-inch YooHoo & Friends animal (w/ sound) is available separately for $6.
— "They are all over the board, but I've sold about 100 of the various things," Barbara Fineblum, Owner of Barston's Child's Play in Baltimore, Md., said about YooHoos to TDmonthly when surveyed in late Spring 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31495      (added 1/13/2011)
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Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author

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