HUGE! Play is making sure its first-ever product will be in kids’ hands in time for the holidays. As many manufacturers and retailers continue to struggle with ongoing delays in the shipping industry, the US-based toyco is guaranteeing that its newly launched GameBud Talking Tom will reach consumers ahead of Christmas by securing air freight delivery for the release of 10,000 units.
These initial units are available for presale now for US$99.99 through the toymaker’s website, with deliveries starting in November. Maintaining control over shipping methods is one of the reasons why HUGE! Play launched as a direct-to-consumer company, channeling all purchases through its website rather than through distribution on Amazon or a brick-and-mortar retailer. According to former Hasbro exec and HUGE! Play co-CEO Kevin Mowrer, this model gives the team the ability to closely monitor every customer touch-point.
HUGE! Play is headed up by Mowrer, co-CEO Adrian Roche and chief development officer David Ciganko—both Mattel alums—as well as chief legal officer Henry Kates. It launched in late 2019, just as COVID-19 began spreading globally.
“The idea for GameBud started during the pandemic and came to life within a year over Zoom,” Mowrer says.
The first in a series of AI products that kids can interact with through mobile games, the GameBud Talking Tom is inspired by Outfit7′s Talking Tom and Friends brand. Compatible with both iOS and Android devices, the GameBud Talking Tom syncs to mobile games Talking Tom Hero Dash and Talking Tom Gold Run. It operates the same way as a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa, reacting to gameplay and responding to voice commands and instructions given via the free GameBud app.
Outfit7 has launched multiple games inspired by the Talking Tom brand (generating more than 16 billion downloads globally), as well as spinoff TV series including Talking Tom and Friends and Tom and Friends Minis. And while the GameBud Talking Tom 3D figure is only compatible with mobile games, Mowrer says the possibilities for expanding the GameBud brand are endless. In addition to launching subsequent GameBud units inspired by other brands—preferably IPs that boast similarly large fan bases—Mowrer says HUGE! Play is also looking to manufacture AI products that interact with PC games soon.