Cashing in on the same do-it-yourself vibe that’s made shows like TLC’s Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls and ABC Family’s Knock First runaway hits, L.A. toyco NKOK is introducing HomePlay, a line of working household tools and appliances featuring the same household name brands as their full-sized counterparts.
The first items to soft-launch in August were four Singer-branded electric sewing machines for ages six and up. All the machines are scaled-down versions of the real deal, made to look and perform just like the full-sized models. Designed for basic sewing, the Lockstitch (US$20) comes with a sewing kit including fabric, thread and needles; two versions of the Chainstitch ($15) – one styled modernly and one replicating a more antique type of machine – produce decorative stitchwork; and the knitting machine (US$40) can be used to make scarves, hats and socks. NKOK also released a line of hand-operated machines (US$5) custom-made for sewers ages three to six.
NKOK has shipped 50,000 Lockstitch units and 75,000 Chainstitches to key retailers representing a broad cross-section of channels, including BJ’s Wholesale, KB Toys, JCPenney, craft chain The Rag Shop, the Cracker Barrel restaurant gift shops and mail order catalogue Back to Basic Toys. The Chainstitch model is also available at Toys ‘R’ Us under the Singer Just Like Home brand. NKOK VP Kohsche Koh says once his company charts the feedback from its current retail partners, it will decide how big the official rollout will be at this year’s Fall Mass Market Toy Fair in October.
The Singer relationship is only the first in what Koh hopes will be a long line of brand licensing deals with manufacturers of home appliances and tools. He says NKOK is currently in discussions with Black & Decker, Makita and Coleman to co-develop two different lines of scaled-down power tools.
It’s a new direction for the company, which, until now, hasn’t strayed far from its core business in R/C cars and boats. Koh says NKOK sees potential in the arts and crafts category, and is planning to do more girl-skewing items, including a tool for adding sequins and rhinestones to clothing.