One of the biggest toy distributors north of the 49th parallel is getting into R&D and manufacturing this year. While it will continue to provide Canadian distribution services to clients including Wild Planet and Wham-o, Red Deer’s Dynatech Action is moving towards becoming a full-fledged toy-maker, with a wave of original product due to start rolling out in Q3.
This shift definitely takes the company out of its comfort zone, but president and founder Brad Pedersen says, ‘A lot of our experience really lends itself well to identifying product opportunities, as well as understanding how to get behind products and promote them.’
Inspired by the success it experienced selling Wild Planet’s range of Aquapets in Canada, Dynatech plans to start off with a revamp of Tomy’s push-button water jet games that were a hit in the ’80s – souped up with new technology and entertainment licenses, of course. Play 2 O (US$14.99) will feature lights and rotating water jets, and when the lead products start to hit shelves in August, some of them will be based around boy-skewing properties including Pokémon, Mario and Donkey Kong.
Next up is a new twist on construction toys. Infused with LED technology, Atomic Blox (US$20 to US$75) light up when kids put them together and connect their circuits. Dynatech is planning eight kits ranging from 20 to 100 cubes, spheres, wedges or cylinders. Three advanced kits will show older kids ages eight to 12 how to build a variety of illuminated skeletons, and then add translucent armor in the shape of things such as dinosaurs and rockets. ‘Companies have experimented with this type of system in the past, but it was simply too expensive for the toy market,’ Pedersen says. ‘By simplifying the process and doing some innovative design work, we’ve been able to reduce costs.’
Along these same lines, Dynatech has developed an indoor RC helicopter priced at US$30 – less than half of what traditional RC copters go for.
The toyco is also working on an exclusive West Coast Chopper line for a U.S. mass-market retailer, leading off with a Digiramp playset that comes with four bikes for US$11.99. Kids rev up the flywheel with a hand crank, and when they release the clutch, the chopper careens off the ramp and performs all kinds of stunts.
While Dynatech’s sales team concentrates on securing North American shelf space for the new products, Pedersen is in the process of signing distribution partners in key territories including Australia, Western Europe, the U.K. and South America.
The plan is to mirror Dynatech’s Canadian retail strategy in the global market. ‘In Canada, we’ve been very successful at catering to the specialty market by putting together exclusive programs, special pricing and other initiatives that allow our retail partners to be competitive. And we’re not going to detract from that philosophy,’ says Pedersen. ‘At the same time, to achieve economy of scale and to justify the investments needed to develop these products, we will need to have mass market support.’