Direct-to-consumer toyco HUGE! Play was launched today by toy industry vets Kevin Mowrer, Adrian Roche and Dave Ciganko. The Rhode Island-based toyco will bow its first products in North America next year before expanding internationally.
Mowrer, co-CEO of HUGE! Play, previously served as SVP of design and development for Hasbro. Co-CEO Roche, meanwhile, was managing director of Fisher-Price/Kiddicraft in the UK and president of North America for Alpha Toys. Chief development officer Ciganko spent nearly 40 years as a creator and executive at Fisher-Price/Mattel.
To kick off the new company, HUGE! Play is partnering with Canadian indie content creator/distributor Epic Story Media to launch toys inspired by key IPs from Epic’s slate, which includes Dolph N Fince, Chaotic and Pocoyo (pictured). Each IP will be selected on a case-by-case basis, with HUGE! Play creating, producing and distributing the toys.
Direct-to-consumer retail continues to be an area of focus in the kids industry, as it provides toymakers with additional data and opportunities to further customize the consumer experience. Nickelodeon recently hired former Walmart exec Aaron Cunningham in the newly created role of VP of direct-to-consumer.
Epic Story Media was founded by Ken Faier in 2017. Bron Studios’ Ventures division took a minority stake in the company in 2018, providing additional capital to invest in IP development and brand management. Last year, Epic tapped former eOne exec Jessica Labi as head of distribution and brand strategy, and appointed former Nickelodeon exec David Sztoser as head of licensing and merchandising.