SBD/December 19, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Massachusetts-Based OYO Sportstoys Releases NFL Player Building-Block Figures

OYO's line of NFL minifigures currently features 123 individual players
OYO Sportstoys has launched its Generation One line of NFL- and NFLPA-licensed building-block figures. OYO President Tom Skripps said that the figures, which are made to resemble individual NFL players and are compatible with other building-block toys such as Legos, are already available at stores and most NFL stadiums. After debuting in late ’11 with MLB-licensed toys, the company’s baseball line has since expanded to include HOF- and MiLB-licensed figures. The Massachusetts-based company was looking to hockey for its next venture until the NHL’s labor issues posed a problem. Skripps said, “We had planned to do the NHL, when all of a sudden it wasn’t such a good idea.” The decision was made in June to pursue a deal with the NFL instead. Skripps said NFL-related children's toys specifically designed for playing purposes represented a "wide open" market. Engine Shop Founding Partner & President Ed Kiernan, who sits on the OYO BOD, helped the company obtain the NFL license in two months. Because the toys represent individual players, the company needed a license from the NFLPA as well, which came through in just two weeks. Skripps said that the company’s experience marketing toys based on individual MLB players helped expedite the licensing process with the NFLPA. Skripps said, “Seeing that a product that was oriented toward the players was what the market wanted made it easier."

SHELF LIFE: Despite a late start -- the NFL season was about halfway through by the time the toys were ready for the market -- the company is working to get the toys in as many locations as possible, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, airport stores and stadiums. Skripps said that getting the toys in store displays is key to the line’s visibility, but the company also uses social media, including Facebook, a blog on the company’s website and YouTube videos featuring the figures. While Skripps conceived of the line as children’s toys, he said about 50% of the company’s business comes from adult collectors and 50% from parents buying for their kids. The growing OYOs NFL line currently features 123 players, with the Patriots and Giants as top sellers to date. The figure of Jets QB Tim Tebow had high expectations but has disappointed sales-wise. Skripps said, “I’ve got a bunch of him sitting on the shelf. You just never know. We were rooting for the Jets.”
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