“We saw a great opportunity here to build a unique and different product that we knew kids would love,” said Richard Barry, Toys “R” Us vice president and general merchandise manager. “We decided to take the idea of a wooden collection here and build a high-quality and highly stylized product that takes classic car play and integrates it with action play sets and wood track play as well.”
The original “Cars” movie came out in 2006, but Disney has continued to keep the story line of its characters alive with products and a series of shorts called Cars Toon airing on the Disney Channel. The latest launch — the result of a partnership between Toys “R” Us and the Disney Consumer Products team — includes eight sets of two-vehicle packages, two play sets and a track set, with more to come as the June 24 theater release of the “Cars 2” movie approaches.
The wood toy collection debuts just before next week’s American International Toy Fair event at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The prices range from $16.99 for a set of vehicles to $49.99 for a track set.
“This has been a major strategy for Toys “R” Us to get exclusive license or exclusive product launches for at least the first year to differentiate itself from other big-box retailers,” said Jim Silver, <USNEWSDAY>editor-in-chief of TimetoPlayMag.com, an online consumer toy magazine. “They don’t have to worry about retailers cutting the profit margin on them.”
Toys “R” Us carries thousands of exclusive toys. For example, the Disney Princess and Me 18” dolls released last year were developed in partnership with Toys “R” Us, Jakks Pacific and Disney Consumer Products, according to Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Katelyn DeRogatis. The Disney Pixar “Cars” Wood Collection is significant, because this is the first time Toys “R” Us Inc. has partnered with an exclusive licensor and directly sourced the manufacturing of the product, she said.
Using wood for the toys is a way to stand apart from competitors, and wood toys continues to be popular, Silver said.
“We knew that our customers would really resonate \[with\] a product that has the quality that you can build and shape in a way that gives the unique essence of the characters and has the quality and durability only wood can give you,” Barry said.
The price range also is an important factor, Silver noted.
“They want to make toys still affordable, especially the first nine months of the year,” Silver said.