Wicked Cool Toys wants to catch ‘em all. Last year, the Philadelphia-based toyco made a deal to take over the master toy license for The Pokémon Company International’s Pokémon brand. Starting in July, it will manufacture and market action figures, play sets, plush, role-play items and toys based on the property worldwide (excluding parts of Asia, where the brand is managed by its parentco The Pokémon Company).
Gerhard Runken, VP of marketing and brand strategy at Wicked Cool Toys, says the toyco will be launching with global retailers as soon as the agreement takes effect. “Plush is a great driver for the line,” he says. “There’s the basic plush, and items that have a weighted bottom so they always land upright, and then you get all the way into the feature plush. We have a really strong and innovative offering that has sensor technology built in, with lights and sound effects.”
The feature plush products react with different lights and sounds depending on how they’re handled. The sensor technology is meant to encourage social play, Runken says, as the experience will be different depending on how each child plays with the product. “Multiple friends can play with the feature plush at the same time,” he says, adding that Wicked Cool Toys will continue to invest in emerging technology in an effort to bring something new to the classic Pokémon brand and up the ante on interactive and social play. Another priority involves taking advantage of the Pokémon brand’s sizable collection of characters.
“More than 800 Pokémon have been created, so we’re launching more waves of action figures, which means more Pokémon will be available throughout the year than people have seen in a long time,” Runken says. “We know that’s a huge driver for the trading cards and the games, because people get to interact with more Pokémon in those experiences. We wanted to bring that to the toy line and let people play with action figures and plush in a volume they haven’t been able to before.”
And in addition to seeing more characters, fans will also be able to feast their eyes on new packaging. “The line’s going to have a complete new packaging look this year, with a new and iconic shape for the packaging. It’s going to make a really strong brand statement.”