TDmonthly Magazine!
November 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 11


ABC Kids Expo Lets Toy Companies Expand

Reaching Down Into the Infant Market Can Bring Rewards

Exhibitors at last month's ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas said that the show allowed them to evaluate their sales and marketing strategies and push product development into new arenas.

Grasping for Infants

"The infant market is a segment we've started to pursue," Sam Armstrong of Rhino Toys told TDmonthly Magazine and Playzak. It was their second time at ABC and he said that this year's show was more "productive" for the company and a definite improvement over 2009. "We've done a lot of product development toward the infant. The new packaging [that features an infant] helped."

Rhino's focus for infants is on the Oball, which has the "graspability" that buyers for wee ones are looking for, continued Armstrong. This year Rhino came out with an Oball rattle and 2011 will bring active kids the Oball Roller push toy.

Also for 2011, Rhino has developed higher priced items such as a large Oball and an Oball Rainstick (each approxmiately $20 retail), which can carry them into the gift and holiday categories and, Armstrong hopes, into store catalogs as well.

Barking Overseas

Noodle Head, which showcased its Pawparazzi and Travel Buddies lines at ABC, is looking to expand into mid-range markets such as Barnes & Noble and Indigos, plus hopes to reach customers across the Atlantic.

"We always do pretty well at ABC," said Chris Ryan. "It's a chance for us to hit the younger age range that we don't always see at Toy Fair. [At ABC], we get balanced sales on travel buddies and our top-selling Pawparazzi line."

New Pawparazzi pets had been on hiatus for a while as the economy slowed, but the company has '"finally launched the new style," said Ryan. Noodle Head plans to bring out new pets every few months in 2011.

Learning Lessons

New exhibitor Leah Kalish, owner of "Move With Me Action Adventures," found her first ABC experience to be valuable, but not in the way she'd anticipated.

"It was disappointing saleswise. ... I don't have a baby product," she said.

She did make a number of valuable connections, but is now investigating more online and smaller niche opportunities to help build her brand of educational fitness DVDs.

"I may have to look into more educational venues and conferences," she realized. She's also developing different marketing strategies to sell to teachers as well as to parents.

Tom Sebazco, owner of ENI Puzzles, realized at the outset that the ABC show did not match his demographic. "We had limited expectations as the age for ABC is 0-6. we are 5 and up... So, we exceeded all expectations and gained valuable experience."

Time to Be Premature

Redmon for Kids had another great show, according to President Peter Redmon. Building on the success of last year's Fun & Fitness exercise equipment for children, the company launched four new items to keep kids in shape: trampoline, rowing machine, rider, and twister.

Redmon appreciates that children are allowed on the floor at ABC. "It's nice to watch the kids come in," he commented. "They just go from one unit to the next. We had one famous model this year: Anna Nicole Smith's daughter was playing on our equipment at the show."

For 2011, Redmon is debuting an infant scale that measures in half-ounce increments, "which is crucial for preemies," he noted.

But the hit of the show was Rock On, a rocking platform for car seats that provides 300 plus hours of automated rocking on battery power alone. It can be slipped in a diaper bag for easy portability. The unit is only appropriate for the floor and should not be used in a car, he said.

The Rock On is also ideal for doctor's offices and hospitals that cater to preemie babies, Redmon told TDmonthly. Instead of using space-hogging infant-seat swings to soothe babies on long waits, the Rock On can be stored in a closet and taken out as needed.

'We had requests from 10 or 12 different countries for that item for distribution," he said.

It's A Small World

Advertising the show in international trade publications might have accounted for that large amount of interest from overseas. Larry Schur, of ABC Kids, told TDmonthly that retailers from 64 different countries attended ABC — "an all-time record." The new Maternity Square pavilion was a big hit, he said, and paid off with both increased vendor and retailer attendance.

"Our overall attendance increased by 7.8% over last year with exhibitor attendance increasing 10.9%, retail attendance by 4.9% and media by 34.1%," said Schur. "This was the largest ABC show ever, with 1,003 exhibitors renting 3,670 booths."

The overseas traffic didn't help Lea Culliton, president of HABA USA, however. "The ABC Show was definitely down from last year, " she told TDmonthly. Most of her international booth visitors were from South or Central America. "I didn't get accounts from them because they're covered by different export divisions."

Nevertheless, the show was better than she'd anticipated. "I knew being a month later would impact us," she explained. "Not as many retailers could go at that time of year."

Rolling on the River

Next year's show is exciting interest already, especially because it entails a venue change to Louisville, Kentucky. Vegas lovers may miss the glare of that town's neon lights, but "there's riverboat gambling in Louisville," pointed out Redmon, who lives nearby.

"With certain city-wide biennial and triennial shows all converging on Las Vegas at once during those years, there was simply not enough space and viable dates available to produce a million square foot show," Schurr told TDmonthly about the decision. "Louisville offers a non-union modern facility with 1.5 million contiguous square feet on one level. So, exhibitors can expect considerable cost savings with the move to Louisville."

Rhino Toys is raring to go: "We already registered," said Armstrong.

Culliton is also looking forward to the venue change, which she learned of at the Spring show. "Louisville is giving them a good facility," she said. "It's super convenient; right next to the airport."

Heading Toward the Future

Schur has other changes in the works for 2011, too: "Enhancements to our interactive floor plan and mobile apps as well as the successful launch of free wifi will enhance our attendees' show experience. We will continue to promote the growth of the Maternity Square pavilion that we successfully launched this year and plan to expand our popular New Product Showcase, which has been sold out the past few years."

To find out more about ABC 2011, all 210-691-4848 or visit To view videos of the 2010 and 2011 products at this year's show, click here. For other products from the companies discussed, please see below:

Age Range: 3 to 7
Specialty: Yes (as of 2010)
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Videos & DVDs

Scooter and The Boy continue their explorations into uncharted territory on the African savannah with Cheetah, Lion, Monkey and Rhinoceros, on the Moon with a Robot, and even across the sea past where the dolphins swim to undiscovered islands. In their adventures, they find out that they have strength of character, that being curious inspires creativity, and that choices have consequences. DVD is 25-30 minutes and includes Warm-up, Story with movement, Relaxation, Adventure Skill review, and Parent/Teacher guide.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30596      (added 9/17/2010)

MSRP: $130
Age Range: 2 to 6
SKU or Item #: 9201
Launch Date: January 2009
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Sporting Goods & Accessories
Developmental Toys

This treadmill for children between the ages of 2 and 6 is designed to provide safe, fun and healthy activity. It is not motorized. It features a battery powered odometer, and some assembly is required (tools included). The treadmill is foam padded and colorful, built of steel for long-lasting use. Launch date: 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25891      (added 10/29/2009)

MSRP: $21.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2010)
SKU or Item #: 00179
Launch Date: September 2010
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush
Play Sets

Cooper comes in a fully packed set that highlights his Surfer Dude personality. The box set comes with pet Cooper, purse, blanket, surfboard and board shorts, trading card, and an 8.5" x 11" Pet Poster. The entire packaging also doubles as a playstage to further increase the play value and collectibility of these Little Pets Living Big Lives.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29924      (added 8/9/2010)

Age Range: All Ages
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
Developmental Toys

This 4"-diameter ball features not only the colorful, clutchable design of the original Oball, but is also outfitted with beads that add a rattling dimension to the product when shaken.
— These spherical rattles have been consistent best sellers for over a year at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., as reported by Co-owner Susan Blanton in September 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22697      (added 3/4/2009)

MSRP: $12.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill

The Eni Puzzle is a unique puzzle that is simple to play and designed to enhance problem solving and dexterity in both young children and seniors. The Eni Puzzle is cylindrically shaped and divided by several ring shaped sections. Each ring section is composed of a multitude of colored tiles that rotate independently. The tiles can travel each ring by one empty space and then be rotated into different positions. The puzzle is solved by a combination of ring rotations and the movement of colored tiles between rings.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25936      (added 11/3/2009)

Alison MarekWriter'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 Watch her nefarious villains in the web series Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author


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