3D-printing company Toybox Labs has set up Malcolm Bird as its first-ever COO. The former Turner exec is already working to grow the company’s kid-focused business lines—including a new direct-to-consumer subscription service called Play Pack—and international expansion is a goal for 2022.
Bird, who has served as an advisor to Toybox since October 2019, started in this new role on November 1 and plans to split his time between his home in Asheville, North Carolina and the company’s headquarters in Oakland, California. He will also work closely with CEO Ben Baltes on securing new corporate funding next year.
Bird has previously served as a media advisor for a number of companies, including TPG Capital and Share Rocket, and he was the founder of now-defunct tween social media platform Viddiverse. Prior to that, he headed up AOL’s tweens/teens division, and worked at Turner Broadcasting as director of international programming for Hanna-Barbera.
Toybox manufactures and sells 3D printers for US$300, and hosts an online platform where kids can download and print more than 3,000 character designs from a mix of free and premium licensed products, as well as create and print their own original toy creations. The company is currently averaging around 25,000 active monthly users—more than double its user base from a year ago.
Its latest offering, Play Pack, is a subscription service that is scheduled to launch in the US on November 12. For US$20 a month, Toybox will ship packs of toy accessories that kids can combine with original 3D-printed designs for a more complex and engaging build-and-play experience. The first design out of the gate is a customizable Battle Truck (pictured below). Its Play Pack includes metal bearings and wheels, springs for its missile launchers, and a variety of decals. And kids will be able to print several versions of the truck in different colors through a special file that only subscribers can unlock. Plans are also in the works to offer Play Packs with designs from licensed partners, says Bird.
As for expanding Toybox’s international presence, Bird’s strategy will be to focus on the UK first, and then branch out across Europe beginning next year, he says.
Last year, Toybox signed its first licensing agreement to add characters from London-based Beano Studios’ animated series Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed to its catalogue. This deal was followed by an agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which Bird negotiated, to let kids print their own toys based on brands including Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, DC’s Batman and a collection of Cartoon Network characters.