Who Iain Morgan, MD at Bladez Toys. The Portsmouth, England-based RC company got off to an encouraging start in 2006 when it received funding from famed UK entrepreneur Peter Jones after being presented on Dragon’s Den. The investment netted Jones a 24% share in the fledging company.
You might recognize…the nearly 20-inch tall inflatable RC toys that made quite an impression in the Javits Convention Center airspace during New York Toy Fair in February. The unique creations opened up many eyes to the potential of a new form of remote-control vehicles. “RC has been bulky and slow in the past, unless it’s tiny or takes too many batteries,” contends Morgan. “But our Pump & Play range is big and impressive. You can just see the kids react to it—adults, too.”
Why take note The range features an inflatable shell, with an attached drive mechanism that sits underneath, and can be controlled by a handset. The devices are safe to use indoors and out, and can be manipulated to perform full 360-degree spins and other aerial stunts. The shells are also collapsible and interchangeable with the drive frame, potentially creating a new licensing category. “That way we can sell upgrades, and it creates a sense of collectibility as well,” says Morgan. The initial line features monster trucks, racing cars, diggers and robots. Currently, Bladez has one licensing deal with London’s Bulldog Licensing for a range of Monster Jam branded trucks that will be on US mass-market shelves in 2012, while an exclusive generic line will be available at UK retailer Hamleys this fall.
Down to business The individual Bladez kits will likely retail for US$34.99 apiece and include a foot pump, inflatable shell and handset. Individual shells will also be sold, but pricing has not been finalized for them yet. “We have a dual strategy,” says Morgan. “We want to get into the under-eight market because the devices are easy enough to use. But we also want to have adult retro themes for the gadget enthusiasts.”
Next up In terms of licensing, Morgan says the company is in early talks with three different licensees and is interested in evergreen properties that will work in the long term. While licensed product will likely edge up the price-point a bit, he says that it will also help expand retail distribution.