The London Toy Company – the plush artists formerly known as High Resolution Design – famed for pushing the envelope of plush design with licenses such as TfL and Harry Potter, has revealed its plans for the non-plush toy space next year.
Founder and director, Joel Berkowitz, has told ToyNews that fans and customers of the brand can expect to witness the launch ‘of a huge range of new toys’ across its existing portfolio of licenses. Products will span the likes of train sets and diecasts, as well as bakewear and squishy toys.
The project has been a top secret one and the work of the London toy Company as it continues to grow in the space, expanding its portfolio of products, designs, and licensing partners along the way. The firm currently holds partnerships with Warner Bros. for its Harry Potter collection of plush toys – brokered via a partnership with Wow! Stuff – Transport for London, and more.
“I can’t share it all right now,” said Berkowitz, “but it is all majorly exciting for us as we continue to grow.”
It was during the UK’s nationwide lockdown period that Berkowitz took the opportunity to evolve the company beyond its High Resolution Design moniker and rebrand as The London Toy Company. In what has been a year of trepidation, Berkowitz’s outfit has managed to achieve both growth and recognition when it took home the SME News Awards for Enterprise’ Best Soft Toy Manufacturer 2020 accolade.
Here, ToyNews catches up with company founder and director, Joel Berkowitz to talk about the successes of the past 10 months.
Hi Joel, it’s good to catch up with you! To kick us off – another award to the company name – Congratulations! Can you talk us through the award win and what this means to you guys?
Thank you, Rob! Given all we have been through this year, it was an incredible surprise to have won the SME News Awards for Enterprise – Best Soft Toy Manufacturer 2020! We have been recognised for commercialisation, brand partnerships and innovation of our portfolio licenses.
How is the award win reflective of the London Toy Company today, the ‘journey’ that the business has made to date and the strength of the company in 2020?
This award is humbling to know that we are recognised for the work we have been able to accomplish over the last 4/5 years. The diversity, capability and integrity of the team has put us in a really good position in the market and things seem to be snowballing for us!
Over the last few years we’ve seen you guys push the boundaries and innovating in the plush toy aisle further and further. How important is it to you that The London Toy Company keeps pushing that envelope and reinventing the plush category?
When entering any industry, it is important to have a vision of difference. We have created our own niche in the vehicles soft toy category. We’re different to other manufacturers as we avoid character-plush and settle for complex, sometimes near impossible shapes and forms that vehicles typically elude.
We are constantly innovating and developing new toys and finding out what works and doesn’t work so we can streamline our offerings for the marketplace.
You’ve got some big licenses like Harry Potter, Transport for London and JCB on the books – how did these partnerships come about? What do you guys look for in a licensing partnership? What inspires each next step of the business?
Based on our vision for super-realistic vehicle soft toys, we decide to work with brands where there is a gap in the market. We always try to ensure that when entering into an agreement, that it is a fair partnership where expectations can be managed by both parties in a sensible fashion.
We’ve found that our licensors have been very sensitive to us given that we are relative newcomer to the industry and we appreciate their support greatly.
Funnily enough, we were introduced to the guys at Wow! Stuff after a friend of our co-director suggested we think about Harry Potter. I had thought about the idea previously, but were concerned about commitments to Warner Brothers at the time. We ended up producing some samples of the Knight Bus, Hogwarts Express and Ford Anglia and met with Wow! who really went WOW! Our partnership was made official and the toys were born.
How has business been for you guys through 2020? How have you guys adapted to the changes that have been thrown at the industry?
Given the rapid move to even more online shopping, we took the chance to rebrand our company during lockdown. We were previously known as High Resolution Design, but needed something much simpler, fresher and easier to understand for the online consumer.
The London Toy Company couldn’t have been a better fit for us and we are almost finished rolling this out across the business. Our sales with online retailers have skyrocketed and our Harry Potter range has turned things around for us much quicker than we hoped.
One thing that has struck amid the pandemic is the evolution of the consumer and the value they place on play. Where do you think the plush sector fits in today, what are consumers looking for from their plush toys today and how is The London Toy Company delivering that?
With all toys, they have a lifecycle that we are all familiar with. The difference for plush is that often, they are seen as an emotional play item that is comforting and versatile. Sadly, as less consumers visit shops, they don’t get the same interaction online as they would in person.
For the Christmas season, we will have videos with footage produced remotely that pick up on this emotional connection to the toys to help customers understand the product as best as they can.
How are you guys looking as we head into the key Christmas period? How optimistic are you for 2021?
We have been working with a number of influencers to help consumers get a better feel for our toys, right from their living rooms. We have some exciting content that I cannot wait to see.
I think we will see a slower year of growth in ’21 as we play catch-up with franchises and content to work with, but there is plenty for us to be getting on with in the meantime.
What’s the next big move for you guys?
In 2021 we are going to be entering into the non-plush space with the launch of a huge range of new toys within our existing licenses. I can’t share it all right now as they are top secret projects, but they are along the lines of squishy stress toys, train sets and diecast as well as the bakeware and footwear categories. All majorly exciting for us as we continue to grow .
Anything you’d like to add?
Wishing everyone a very safe and prosperous end to this crazy year. Most retailers beat me to it with their Christmas range already on display since August, but here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukkah to all in our fantastic industry!