Basic Fun is ready to make its mark. The toyco was formed in February when Florida-based children’s consumer products marketer The Bridge Direct merged with Canadian toy developer Tech 4 Kids. The new entity is maintaining offices in Toronto and Boca Raton, but its stated goal is to amass greater scale in the toy biz. In fact, part of its strategy going forward is to acquire or merge with a new company every 12 to 18 months.
According to Basic Fun president Brad Pederson, the merger was a reaction to the industry’s growing desire to work with a select group of partners. “The real impetus behind all of this is that we believe that size matters,” he says. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and having scale in the toy space makes a difference.” And just months after sealing the deal, the then-unnamed company acquired the assets of science and nature exploration products manufacturer Uncle Milton. The acquisition saw Basic Fun take over the brand name as well as product-related intellectual property.
“Our vision is to grow Basic Fun to be a top-10 toy company, both through organic growth and through mergers and acquisitions,” says Pederson. “We’re looking at other companies that are similar to our size and struggling with the fact that they are inhibited by their scale, and inviting them to be a part of our growth.”
But according to Basic Fun CEO Jay Foreman, that growth needs to be streamlined. “Right now we’re playing in 11 different product categories,” Foreman explains. “That’s probably four or five more than we should be in as a group. One of the things we’re looking to focus on is doing more business in fewer categories.”
Key categories for the company moving forward will be collectible, STEM, construction and retro toys. For example, Hasbro’s My Little Pony is celebrating its 35th anniversary next year, and Basic Fun will be reintroducing the original flat-footed ponies as part of the festivities.
“In the world of retro, probably the most exciting new thing we’re launching is Retro My Little Pony,” says Pederson. “We think the market is going to respond to that opportunity, and breathe new life into the retro phenomenon that we have, historically, been very dominant in.”
In addition to bringing back a fan favorite, the toyco is also planning to break new ground with its upcoming sports-based construction business. The company has inked deals with major sports leagues—including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, a number of European soccer clubs and the WWE—for figures and playsets in the construction category. The sports construction line will launch later this year in Toys “R” Us locations across the US, rolling out to other major retailers throughout 2018.
“Right now, we’re basically at the beginning of what Spin Master looked like seven or eight years ago, or what Jakks Pacific looked like 15 years ago, or what Hasbro and Mattel looked like 30 years ago,” Foreman says. “That’s what Basic Fun is going to look like as we grow. We’ll go from this smaller, independent company to a much larger, more substantial business.”