Get out the garden hose because Wham-O is ready to slip and slide onto shelves with a host of new consumer products. The California-based toyco is working exclusively with licensing agent Anjar & Becker Associates to expand its classic toys—including Slip ‘N Slide, Hula Hoop and Frisbee—into 360-degree brands.
The first phase of this strategy is focused on categories that will complement the origins of Wham-O’s many outdoor toys, and it follows a period of massive growth for the category. US sales of outdoor and sports toys increased by 28% in 2020 to US$5.35 billion, according to Statista.
“There’s a natural evolution,” says Becker Associates CEO Patti Becker about the plan. First, an agreement was inked with Jazwares to produce a line of pet toys (including balls, discs, tug toys and plush) that’s set to launch in fall 2022. Next, Wham-O signed a deal with Winning Moves for a spring 2022 range of retro-style toys inspired by the first versions of Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Super Ball, Hacky Sack, Slip ‘N Slide, Trac-Ball and Boogie Board.
Upcoming licensing efforts will target categories that can build on these SKUs, like athletic apparel and sneakers. From there, the next steps will see Wham-O branch out even further into categories like crafts and DIY items.
With the new products comes new content, starting with an unscripted effort. The company partnered with nonfiction prodco Critical Content in October 2020 to develop and create TV shows inspired by its brand portfolio. The first offering—Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide for NBC—is a reality competition series that sees participants pitted against each other on a massive obstacle course. It was scheduled to premiere in August following the Olympics, but production was paused in June, reportedly for health reasons. And in August, it was announced that production on the series would not resume.
Because Anjar & Becker Associates only signed on as Wham-O’s licensing agent in March 2021, there are no products tied directly to Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide that will be affected by the postponed broadcast launch. Becker does say, however, that connected consumer products programs will be a focus for content deals moving forward.
“We are looking for partners for additional series inspired by the other brands,” she says. “We’re looking to get into scripted content as well.”
The traditional narratives and new characters that may be introduced in scripted content open up an entirely new world as far as licensing goes, she says. This would allow Wham-O to move more easily into categories like dolls and action figures, further expanding the reach of its brands.
Becker says Frisbee, Hula Hoop and Hacky Sack are all priorities moving forward as the toymaker and its licensing agency look to ink more deals.
And when it comes to finding future licens- ing partners, whether for stand-alone items or consumer products related to content, Becker says Wham-O is looking for manufacturers with that certain je ne sais quoi.
“There is a gut feeling you get,” she says. “While different companies will be the right fit for different products, for some of those partnerships, it’s about accessing certain spaces [whether it's a retail setting or a new territory] in order to carry the brand forward and grow.”
This article has been updated from its print version to include new information regarding Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide.