Tara Toy’s starting point was in 1977 with licensed action figure and doll cases for Mattel. More than 30 years later, the company still produces these cases and has grown considerably beyond that initial product. Now, more than 30 years later, Tara Toy (named for CEO and founder Bruce Pearl’s daughter) has established itself as a manufacturer of activity products, toys, and party favors for a number of major brands, ranging from Disney Princess and Disney Fairies to Mattel’s Barbie and Hot Wheels.
Much of Tara Toy’s success is based on its approach to licensed products, which form the bulk of the company’s product lines. “Our philosophy is to identify and capitalize on the unique quality inherent to each of our brands,” says Sandy Mazurkiewicz, director of licensing and marketing at Tara Toy. “It is our goal that each of our brands has its own identity within our toy line.” For example, the company’s Polly Pocket activity line contains a number of unique products that are not incorporated into other Mattel-branded activity lines. Rather than creating three identical lines with the only difference being “label slapping” an image onto the product, Tara Toy has created three distinct lines with tangible differences, thus preserving each brand’s core equity.
In addition, the company places a great deal of emphasis on trend spotting. Tara Toy is able to respond quickly to the ever-changing whims of today’s kids. “Trend spotting and trend forecasting allow us to have the competitive edge by not simply duplicating other successful product formulas, but developing our own,” says Mazurkiewicz. The company’s small team and tight hierarchy are advantages in this case, according to Mazurkiewicz, since the “streamlined operation allows us to react quickly to ever-changing trends in the market.”
The latest development for Tara Toy is the company’s venture into the games category, which began in 2008 with the introduction of Tara Toy’s own brand, Zwiggle. Though initial releases were basic preschool games, the company has continued expanding the line, adding new games in 2009, with a larger format for older children that emphasized physical activity. This year saw the addition of more games to the line, including Spingo, Pop Tac Toe, and Shakin’ Bacon.
Though the Zwiggle game line is currently non-licensed, Mazurkiewicz does mention that Tara Toy will be bringing licensing partners on board for more games in the future. The company will continue to expand its game line, as well as add new products to the lines that it has maintained for more than 30 years. “Our goal is to keep coming out with new and creative products for children,” says Mazurkiewicz, “as well as to keep expanding into new categories, just as we’ve done with activities, party favors, and games.”