Catching Up With...

Catching Up With Steve Walterscheid, Owner of Zing Toys, Inc.

Zing Toys, Inc., has an extensive product line designed to get kids to step away from their screens. The company known for its outdoor and novelty items is now finding success with a new novelty item ICKEE Stikeez.

Nancy Lombardi: Zing Toys is usually associated with outdoor items. Explain some of the key products that have made the company successful in that category. Give a brief background of the company.

Steve Walterscheid: Zing Toys, Inc., began in 2007. We are a privately held toy company located in Portland, Ore., founded by Pete Cummings and myself. We had a minor craze with the ZeeBeez (spin, drop, and pop toy). Utilizing our foam production expertise, Zing started the Zing Air brand (Boomerang and Pop Guns). The invention of the Zartz (a self-releasing foam suction cup dart) and the Z-Curve Bow, which utilizes the Zartz suction cup highlight our innovative approach to the active toy category. As well, we have not forgotten our roots in the novelty market; Jumpz, Armeez, Stikeez, and a plethora of ZeeBeez extensions are evergreens on novelty toy shelves around the globe. And now comes the ICKEE Stikeez an invasion of little monsters with an addictive “pop” sound.

N.L.: Why has Zing ventured into the collectible craze with ICKEE Stikeez?

S.W.: Novelty is our roots. ZeeBeez was our first hit. Armeez, Stikeez, and Jumpz are Zing international mainstays. ICKEE Stikeez allow us to flex our artistic muscles. The products, the story, the website, and the extensions make the sky the limit for the ICKEE brand.

N.L.: How is this item different from what the competitors are featuring?

S.W.: ICKEE Stikeez have a unique look, function, and storyline. The function is the key. Once you start “popping” them it is hard to stop. It is sort of like popping bubble wrap. It is addictive to do. It’s universal and cross-cultural. And, it’s irritating to listen to if you are not the one doing it.

N.L.: How was this line developed?

S.W.: We started with Stikeez, which are animals (farm, ocean, and jungle theme) with suction cups as their base. It was a great item. The ICKEEZ Stikeez concept developed from there. We added Podz (which are space capsules) and storyline around the invasion from the planet ICK was created. The art flowed, the story flowed, and the “popping” started.

N.L.: What does the line encompass?

S.W.: ICKEE Stickeez are the start of the ICKEEZ brand. There are 24 ICKEEZ in series one with 100 ICKEEZ waiting to be released in series two, three, and four.

N.L.: What are you doing to publicize the product line?

S.W.: At this point the ICKEEZ are being TV advertised in the UK, Czech Republic, and Australia. It is in mass market stores in those regions now. In the U.S. we utilized an aggressive “call-and-place” strategy to get the ICKEEZ into our vast specialty market retailers just prior to the start of the school year. Get the product in the hands and on the backpacks of boys and girls and get the “popping” craze started. It’s got great art, a good story, and it does have “pop.” To promote the line even further, we “leave” them everywhere we go to be “discovered” and we travel to toy and gift shows across the nation and the world to promote and spread the ICKEEZ story. It is working!