Standing six inches tall and sporting a popcorn box headband with a matching red-and-white striped skirt is Popette—a member of Moose Toys’ newest doll line to come out swinging. But don’t be mistaken. Shopkins spin-off Shoppies are not your average fashion dolls.
Designed as an extension of the Aussie toyco’s hit Shopkins brand, whose toy figures and playsets are on track to generate US$250 million in retail sales this year with a merch program that boasts 155 global licensees, Shoppies was inspired by how kids were playing with their Shopkins toys.
“We tried to make them a little bit different and quirky. The color palette definitely stays true to that and also what Shopkins is all about—bright and fun,” says Diane Bellchambers, who heads up Moose Toys’ global licensing programs for Shopkins and Shoppies. “Kids were creating their own little worlds, using maybe a Barbie or Elsa doll,” she adds. “And we thought there was an opportunity to create not a fashion doll, but more of a character that would be a part of the Shopkins world.” So the toyco created the first three Shoppies—Popette, Bubbleisha and Jessicake—and then scaled them to be compatible with Shopkins’ current playsets.
Bellchambers points to Shoppies as an example of how Moose continues to evolve the Shopkins brand, which is heading into its fifth season at retail, while not moving away from the core range. Nonetheless, Moose certainly sees a huge opportunity with the Shoppies doll line, which has been flying off retail shelves since soft launching in the US, Australia, Canada and the UK at mass retail in Q4 2015.
“We’ve been chasing inventory to keep up with demand,” she says of the US$14.99 dolls, which each come with two exclusive Shopkins, a brush, a purse and a VIP card that unlocks rewards in the Shopkins app.
Heading into Licensing Expo, Moose has just announced that two key partners have joined the fledgling L&M program for Shoppies—The Bridge Direct (construction) and Disguise (Halloween costumes). And following the Shopkins model, webisodes, TV promos and promotion across social media by influential bloggers will play a big role in the full launch strategy.
In terms of growing the Shoppies CP program, besides the categories already covered, Bellchambers says she’s on the lookout for apparel and other softline licensees like backpack and stationery manufacturers to produce goods targeting girls six to eight.
“It’s pretty much the lifestyle categories, where girls can show off their Shoppies designs. It will be a tighter program than Shopkins in terms of the artwork and styling. We’ve definitely made it more of a fashion-focused range,” she says.
While expanding into other categories is a top priority, Bellchambers explains that when it comes to partnering with licensees, Moose will follow a similar, selective course to the one forged by Shopkins.
“Our strategy has always been that we don’t want to be everything to everybody,” she says. “We want to pick partners and products that make sense to the Shopkins world. It has to relate back to the core DNA of the brand. The essence of Shopkins and Shoppies is about collectibility.”
In the meantime, Moose has added a fourth doll, Peppa-Mint, to the Shoppies doll line, and plans are in the works to add more dolls and playsets to the range. And from a licensing standpoint, the toyco is focusing on lead markets (the US, Canada, Australia and the UK) to grow the line this year and into 2017.
“We definitely see Shopkins as a long-term brand and we’re building it that way. Shoppies speaks to how we need to continue to innovate and keep things fresh. Kids are so demanding and they love newness. We definitely want to make sure we’re providing that ‘wow factor’ with the brand,” Bellchambers says.