Toyco MGA has been busy beefing up the Little Tikes preschool brand it acquired last year, increasing the line’s market profile and infusing the products themselves with new RFID technology.
‘The brand already has such a high awareness unaided, which is a gold mine,’ says MGA CEO Isaac Larian, adding that there hadn’t been consumer advertising for Little Tikes in the last few years. He says the company has 100 new products on deck for 2007, and plans to spend US$10 million in marketing the brand through TV spots and print ads.
The new Play Smarter line of playsets, scheduled to hit shelves this fall, will be the first to get a makeover. Cook & Learn Kitchen (US$99.99), for example, makes cooking sounds and plays songs to reward kids for using programmed recipe cards, either in free play mode or learning mode. The Build & Learn Busy Builder Workshop (US$99.99), meanwhile, has life-like toy tools that make real sounds, and little ones can practice assembling a motor that rumbles when the gears are turned. And Corner Store Shop & Learn (US$49.99) is a grocery store checkout station where kids scan items and learn to recognize foods, colors and numbers. Caregivers can adjust the level of difficulty to suit their child’s developmental stage, making the play pattern more or less challenging accordingly.
MGA has also revamped Little Tikes’ iconic Cozy Car Coupe line, which has sold more than six million units since it launched 27 years ago. The product range now includes the Drive & Learn Cozy Coupe Steering Wheel console (US$29.99), which takes would-be drivers through animated environments and teaches shapes, colors, letters and numbers along the way.
An inflatable water toy line – the granddaddy of which is a two-story deluxe water park complete with water cannons, slide, splash pool and water lounge – will also make up a good chunk of Tikes’ expanded product offering. Meanwhile, MGA is working on growing the brand’s existing sales channels at mass and specialty retail, daycare centers and non-traditional outlets such as home and garden stores.