Matt Nuccio. "BACK TO THE FUTURE. " Toy & Family Entertainment, Feb 2015

Not long ago Design Edge lucked out when New York State and Nassau County relocated us to the newly opened Grumman/Gold Coast Studios film lot 20 miles outside of midtown Manhattan. Design Edge was born at 60 Madison Ave. across from the Toy Center at 200 Fifth. From there we bounced around and more recently considered moving to Brooklyn. That’s when a new deal was thrown on the table by the Nassau County Business Development Office.

Design Edge’s abilities to build prototypes, engineer new product, execute graphic and package design plus build displays and props was perceived as a good fit for the burgeoning Bethpage, Long Island film industry. The idea of having us onsite was a mutually beneficial situation. Since it’s opening the Grumman/Gold Coast Studios have become the largest film lot on the east coast. Just a few feet from our studio stands a complete outdoor set of New York's Time Square complete with tagged sign posts and gummed sidewalks. Across from the Times Square set the largest unobstructed sound stage in the country was recently completed. In the few short years the studio has been in existence, films such as Spiderman 2, The Avengers, Salt, The Dictator, Peter Pan Live, The Sound of Music Live, The New Annie Movie and many TV shows and commercials have been completed. When they are filming this place is bustling.

As a design and development agency we find our new local inspiring but not only for the reason that you may think. You see, before catering trucks, spotlights, stage sets and celebrities stood on this lot it housed one of the largest military defense contractors in U.S. History, Grumman Aerospace. Here they designed and built the F4F Wildcat, F6F Hell Cat and TBF Avenger that helped win World War II. In later years they built the F-14 Tomcat that Tom Cruise made famous in “Top Gun.” While building these great fighter planes is impressive in itself what is most inspirational is that this is the site where the Apollo Lunar Module was designed and built allowing the first man to walk on the moon. Everywhere we look on this lot is history behind, in front of, above and below us.

As Toy designers and developers it is a mistake to only look forward. Inspiration can be culled from the past, present and future. Without looking into the past we cannot project the future. We would not have had the Renaissance with it's rebirth of Greek and Roman knowledge. The Enlightenment of the past brought about the modern age we live today. What amazing feats of yesteryear can we look to inspire tomorrow? What forgotten technologies can be rethought to improve play in our modern era?

Today we have computers with sites available that let us research any area of a project needing an injection of creativity that goes beyond the norm. Seeking new technologies, scientific break throughs and new exciting visual approaches that will enhance form and function is a must for toy designers. All history is now available at the push of a computer key but there are other sources as well.

At Design Edge we maintain a library of over 5,000 classic toy catalogs dating from the 1940’s onward. We find the information contained within the invaluable and certainly entertaining. It allows us to enter the creative mindsets of the designers that developed products for Marx, Ideal, Aurora, J. Shien and early Mattel plus a myriad of smaller companies whose heyday was the 1950’s and 60’s. We also search out old TV Toy ads that give us the mindset to the play patterns in that golden toy era.

Just as the golden age of film has had such great influence on film and TV entertainment today so does history of our industry affect and challenge us into the future. That’s the mindset I am in every time I park in front of my office where the Hollywood of the East is shaping up.

Matt Nuccio. "IN INVENTIVE REVOLUTION." Toy & Family Entertainment, Oct 2014

Last year, during our family vacation, we brought our two sons to a nice restaurant for my wife’s birthday. We knew it was a gamble, our young boys are generally well-behaved in public so we decided to take the risk. The restaurant was scenic and quiet. It was definitely more of a couples cove opposed to the typical family joints that our boys are accustomed to. Their past dining experiences tended towards “Here are some crayons, now go color the pictures on the placemat” sort of places. After we were seated I was a bit concerned how quiet the place was. I could clearly hear people talking softly at the tables on either side of us.

To our left a young couple spoke in French and to our right an older couple was discussing medical procedures. During our dinner I would hear tid bits of both of conversations and while I had no clue what the french couple were discussing, I couldn't help but hear the older couple talking about insulin. As our dinner ended the older woman leaned over and complimented us on how well behaved our boys were and we started some small talk. My wife then asked if they either of them are diabetics explaining that we couldn't help but hear them discussing insulin as it had become a keyword in our household. We went on to explain that our 3 year old had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes one year earlier. The gentlemen then asked if he was on an insulin pump. After we relayed that he was, the man stated that he was the person who invented it.

For those who do not know, an insulin pump is an electrocnic device that monitors and administers insulin. It is a major medical breakthrough and a multi-billion dollar industry. Before this pump, insulin-dependent diabetics had to use hypodermic needles to control their blood sugar. 

We spent a considerable amount of time speaking with the couple, Claudette and Alfred Mann. They were both very charming. Alfred, finding out that I, too, was an inventor, went on to tell me of his other medical inventions such as a cochlear implant that restores hearing and an insulin inhaler. Now in his late 80's and a billionaire twice over, he still continues to invent devices that revolutionize medicine.

What I found most interesting about Alfred was that he was working to cure major medical problems with technology as oppose to medication. In an industry where the common road is to pump people full of drugs he was taking an alternative route. Part of his genius is in taking roads less-traveled.

You ask how all of this relates to our industry. The real question is "How can we as individuals and an industry take the blinders off?" While we have had some dramatic new toys and entertainment devices over the last few years, a large portion of the toy manufacturing and retailing segments tend to want to “play it safe " by sticking to old formulas , knocking off existing products with cheaper versions in order to capture shelf space. There is reluctance to experiment with inventive ways of presenting consumers with new and better product. Following this formula only keeps our industry in a malaise. To bring back excitement we have take a lesson from Alfred Mann. Think outside of the box and go against the flow. 

Matt Nuccio. "The Realitively of Cool." Toy & Family Entertainment, June 2014

Many moons ago, before I was married, before I had kids, I accompanied my cousin, his wife and kids in their new mini van on a pumpkin picking outing somewhere out on the east end of Long Island. It was a long drive from the city and the traffic was as horrific as New York traffic can be. We ended up arriving much later then we had anticipated and finding a parking space had become a real nightmare. After driving around in circles for at least 30 minutes without any success we finally spotted an open parking space a short distance up ahead. As we confidently raced to position, certain the space was ours, another mini van came screaching around the corner and took the spot. In the frustration of the moment my cousin's wife abrubtly proclaimed “They think they're so cool because they drive a Honda Odyssey”. It was at this precise moment that it dawned on me, coolness is relative.

Webster's Dictionary defines the slang use of the word “Cool” as “Fashionalby Hip”. In essence, one's coolness is dicated by their individual sense of fashion and how it relates to the world around them. What is maybe “cool” on the Country Music scene may be completely juxtaposed in Hip Hop and a direct reflection of the world around them. As a single 20 something year-old in New York City, a suburban world with a hierarchy of mini vans blew my mind. My first reaction was one of laughter simply because it seemed so foreign to me. I had a hard time comprehending how any mini van could be preceived as cool. But, as a designer, the epiphany that a mini van could be cool was indeed eye opening.

Design schools are full of students trying to out-cool one another. When recent graduates apply for positions at Design Edge, I can usually tell they recently graduated without even looking at their resume simply by their sense of “cool” as reflected in their portoflio. It seems many students and novices are always striving for a visual coolness that can never quite be fully realized. Why can't it be fully realized? ...Why- because coolness is relative to subcults and locations and personal interpretion, “cool” is not a mere blanket sentimentality. Most students and novices design everything based on sensibilites force fed and established by the entertainment and fashion industries, they are not thinking of the suburban mother and her mini van out on Long Island, in Ohio or in Walla Walla Washington. They'll design toothpaste packaging with tweeny pop music flare instead of a sense of suburban house décor. Design is not the perception of hipness in popular culture but rather the a character study of individuals and how they live their day-to-day lives. Design needs to speak to them on their level and not make them feel excluded.

Matt Nuccio. "What to Print First, the Chicken or the Egg." Toy & Family Entertainment, Feb 2014

This month I am revisiting a subject - 3D PRINTING- that I wrote about some while ago. I am stressing this because the creative aspects of the Toy Industry are being impacted by this more and faster than we imagined even a year ago. It is affecting how we approach the design, marketing and manufacturing of the products we believe in and sell. But there are complexities to any new technology. Knowing the assets and pitfalls work in one's favor.

3D printing has been around for years yet the average person has only recently become aware it. Chuck Hull patented the process of Stereolithography or the 3D printing as it commonly known today in back 1984. When the patent ran out a competitive market for desktop 3D printers opened up and started to drive down prices. As prices went down demand has gone up. While 10 years ago a 3D printer could cost upwards $20K, that same print today would only cost a few hundred bucks.

 At current there are an estimated 300,000 consumer grade desktop printers in homes. Yup I said 300,000.... Considering all the hype about 3D printers it may be a surprising low number to you. Why is that number so low? Well the technology is not yet entirely user friendly. Today, the majority of 3D printers are owned by engineers with
 a high skill set for 3D modeling. 3D modeling programs can be extremely complicated and time consuming to learn and while there are free programs available, the popular ones tend to be expensive. Yet even with a strong knowledge of the programs, 3D printing can be a frustrating process. The average 3D printer, if used properly has a 30% failure rate. While that may not seem terrible, it can be, if you consider that the process of actual printing can take upwards of 5 hours. Imagine the look on your face when your 2 hours into printing and your printer fails... not fun. Not fun at all!

There are many reasons why the prints fail. It could be software issue, it could be a file issue or it may be the printer itself. But as time goes on these issue are being ironed out. It is estimated that by the end of next year at home printers will jump from the current 300,000 to over a 140 million... and with each sales comes a new user. As user use increases we will start to nominate leaders take over segments of the market and dictate the processes by which we print. While todays 3D modeling programs are fairly complicated it is only a short time before simply friendly programs become go to staples of the design challenged. 

That being said. we in the Toy Industry must bone up on knowing what can be expected from this new asset. It cannot all be outlined here, but you can access a whole world of self education on all of that amazing challenges 3D PRINTING brings to the future of our TOY INDUSTRY just by delving into the torrent of information available on the web. I encourage you to do so!

Matt Nuccio. "Hindsight is Always 20/20." Toy & Family Entertainment, Oct 2013

In the Fall of 2002, I received a cloak and dagger type phone call from a high level executive at Kodak. He requested that I meet with him in a week's time in New York City. When I inquired what the purpose of the meeting was he skirted the question and alluded that it would be revealed when we met. A few days later I received  an email with the address of a small diner in Manhattan's Garment District - time, 3 pm. The week passed and I didn't think much about it. The day we met I had a difficult time finding the coffee shop. It was raining and the hand-painted prewar sign was small and worn out.  I walked in and he was easy to spot. The place was empty with the exception of him and a waitress. He was tall and thin and wearing a turtleneck sweater. Before I could speak he said, "Hello, Mr. Nuccio," waving me over.  He had a deep stack of papers on the table. Holding up a magazine clipping he said, " I recognize you from your photo."  I ordered a coffee, and for the next hour we sat and had a one-sided discussion about my background, my influences and my thoughts on contemporary design. It was rather like a job interview. Any questions I had were replied to with short vague answers. When it was over I didn't know what was going on. He asked me for a list of references and then settled the tab. I recall he had 12 cups of coffee to my 3.

Over the next few weeks I received phone calls from everyone that I put on my reference list. Oddly none spoke with the same person I met with. I was getting descriptions like "They had a spanish accent", "I spoke with a woman" and "I'm pretty sure this person was fat." That aside they all asked the same questions, "Was Design Edge professional?", "How is our reputation in the toy industry?" and "How fast can we work?" Weeks went by and then one day the phone rang. The person on the other end sounded younger than the man I met in the diner. He explained to me that Kodak was in trouble. They missed the boat on digital cameras and were now scrambling to pull a line together. He requested that I fly up to their Rochester headquarters and meet their team.

Rochester was cold. It was late fall and already a foot of snow on the ground. I was greeted at the airport by the young man who called me a few days before. After a short drive we arrived at "Kodak City." Now I've been to some big corporate campuses before, but this took the cake. It was, as the name suggested, a city. We drove to a large modern building. When we entered the large lobby there was a small glass case sitting alone in the center of the room. It was out of place standing like the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. We shot right past it and headed into a large conference room which had the air of a war room. People were scrambling about with charts and graphs. I sat down and waited a few minutes. The person at the head of table paged several people to come to the conference room. When they entered the conference room moments later, the person
 at the end of the table signaled everyone else to leave. I was given a short introduction to the team and then given the reason why I was brought Kodak.

Kodak, the once monster of the photo industry, had lost its way in the digital age. Its expansive film business was slipping more and more each day. They knew that they needed to enter the digital camera business and had no time to waste. Their research found that the toy industry knew how to move fast and how to design a product to a price point. In scrambling to learn more about the toy industry they had read about me in an article in Advertising Age magazine. They had apparently contacted several other studios also.

After four hours of briefing I walked away with a massive project of designing a new packaging look for the Easy Share camera line. Over the course of the next year Design Edge would design dozens and dozens of different packaging styles for focus group after focus group.... some of it was crazy funky stuff, while other designs were as plain-Jane as it gets. During that year I would go up and down to Rochester multiple times, work with countless people and departments and be subjected to internal review after review. One day while exiting the modern looking building, I stopped and looked inside the glass case in the lobby. Inside it was a large blue box with a lens and cassette tape attached to it. Below it was a small plaque that read "Digital Camera". I turned to the guy accompanying me and asked, "What's this?" He explained to me that a Kodak engineer named Steven Sasson invented the digital camera in 1975 and then jokingly laughed... "And we did nothing with it".

To this day the image of that camera haunts me. How did a company that did so much diligence on me miss such a golden opportunity?  Is it possible for a company, an industry or even a nation to get so caught up in the successes of today that we can't see a greater future when it's right there in front of us? Is today's smart phone or digital printer the the digital camera of 1975? Are we so tied up with getting great costs of goods from China to realize what's going on? Is it possible that in a short time much manufacturing will become an at-home experience with every home owning it's own 3D printer and import- export will go the way of camera film developing?  What other new technologies are over the horizon? How many will be exploited and how many will fail? How as an industry does the toy industry embrace and take hold of these opportunities?  Who will be the Kodaks of tomorrow? Do we need to look back to move forward?

Matt Nuccio. "Sustaining Sales in a Confused Economic Environment." Toy & Family Entertainment, Feb 2013

Right now the entire world is a mass of economic confusion. It is a "Brave New World" we live in and, like it or not, we have to play the cards we are dealt. Most of us have had to survive through these seemingly endless ups and downs. Credit is short and receivables linger. When get your items on the shelf you still have to worry about sell through and returns. The question cycles in your head. How do I sustain sales in such a confused economic environment?

 Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this difficult question. There are however, steps you can take to exploit your brand by paying attention to details from the beginning of your products' design through its shelf presence in the marketplace. The details are where the roots of an items success and failure are. During boom times many companies seem to gloss over the small stuff but now is the time to pay acute attention to it.

 Try to be original. There is way too much "me too" product out there. Calculate very carefully the value and need of placing a license on your product. Licensing is increasingly expensive so use it where it has the most value and don't just throw it on products needlessly. It does both your product and the licensing property an injustice.

 Start your development program as early as possible for forth quarter items try to start developing at least 5-6 months before the first September previews.

 When developing a product be sure that you have the best price point for your product. Then cost it out carefully with multiple makers for the best price and delivery. Remember that in today’s world you have to concern yourself with wall thickness and mold set up on plastic parts. Make an item too thick and you will pay too much. Make the mold one up or multiple cavities is a "Mold cost vs production capability " question. You must attend to these questions early on.

 Avoid safety testing issues by attending to safety early. Build safety in from day one!  Develop a good relationship with your safety lab by submitting early and with all your paper work complete. Not attending to these issues costs time and shipping delays.

Make sure your packaging design is started alongside every other aspect of product development. Attractiveness, size, shape, durability, assembly and environmental issues all have to be dealt with. Again, the earlier the better. If the item is licensed, don't wait until a week prior to shipping to submit for approval. That is the formula for disaster.  The same applies to sculpted designs that must be approved.

Keep your shipping promises realistic and hunt for the best shipper prices.  On time product lets the buyer know you are dependable, a sure way to continue increase your sales. Lastly, once you are on the shelf, track where your product is being placed. Is it really on the shelf or forgotten in the back of a chain or stores warehouse? If the item warrants it, consider hiring detailers to make sure the product is where it should be. Of course the point of all of the above really comes down to this. Organize, schedule and follow through, as early as you can. The fruits of doing so are undeniable. 

Matt Nuccio. "The Circle of Shows." Toy & Family Entertainment, Sept 2012

I am writing this late at night on Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day weekend. For the past few years this has been a day of insanity over here at Design Edge. The phone rings off the hook, and my inbox fills up fast. This is the day that much of the toy industry gets back from their summer vacations and realize “Oh $h#*!  the Dallas show is just around the corner and we need to get cranking!”  

Years ago January 2nd was the day of panic. That was the day when everyone returned from their holiday breaks and realized “Oh $h#*! New York Toy Fair is right around the corner!" The pressure was far more intense back then. The New York Toy fair was a make-it or break-show. Everything was done to the nines because the New York Toy Fair was the only one that counted. Back then it felt like we had months to prepare for the one great show. Now there is a series of shows each benchmarking the progress of a product. These shows guide a product all the way to the retail shelf.

Arguably the majority of the toy industry kicks off with the Dallas preview show. Dallas is the starting point where, behind closed doors, package front panels and rough prototypes first make their way in front of the buyers  Once all the input is gathered from the Dallas meetings, it's time to crank all amps up and start planning for the Hong  Kong show. What was once package fronts and rough protoypes in a Dallas showroom now must be turned into a proper prototype with a defined packaging in a Hong Kong show room. In the 3 short months between Dallas and Hong Kong, concepts are cleaned up, thought out, rethought, fine-tuned, refined, and sometimes even discarded.  

From there it's off to more open show formats. Some companies, depending on your markets, are off to Nuremberg, while others turn their sights to the New York Toy show. Some go to both. These shows are generally open formats with countless aisles of new toys. Buyers can walk in unannounced, and press can snap pictures and post  blogs on the spot. These are the shows where many toys are first debuted to the world at large. After all these shows buyers make their decisions, orders are written and production is started. Then the ball really starts rolling even faster.

After New York Toy Fair, a ton of time is devoted to crossing the T's and dotting the I's assuring the final design and production are perfect. By the time it's all summed up the ASTRA show appears. A wonder show with a great vibe, ASTRA is all about the speciality retailer and the companies that cater to them. You won't find Walmart  walking those aisles, and the toys tend to put individuality first. You don't see mass market product here, but rather the items you wouldn't find at the big box retailers. At the ASTRA show it is no longer a question of will this toy be made, but when will it be ready to ship. So ends the cycle of shows and leaving many companies some R&D down time before ramping up for Dallas and enjoy their summer vacations all over again. 

Matt Nuccio. "English to English." Toy & Family Entertainment, June 2011

Some time ago I was alone at a factory somewhere on the edges of Guangzhou province in China.  I was working with the factory's engineer trying to resolve some minor problems that seemed to be escalating into big problems. I had spent the previous weeks going back and forth with diagrams and e-mails. Nothing was working.  Too much was getting lost in translation. Despite the language barrier, we managed to communicate with very little talking and a lot of pointing. Within a few hours the problems were resolved and I was ready to head back to my hotel.

  I was packing my samples and sketchbook when the engineer was called out of the room. He returned a few minutes later with two well-dressed Japanese men and the factory owner. Apparently they too were having communication issues. The engineer asked me if I could please help them. The Japanese did not speak any Mandarin. The factory owner did not speak any Japanese or English.  The engineer only spoke a little English. They were even having trouble translating English to English.  The factory owner spoke to the engineer and he translated it with a heavy Mandarin accent. "We no problem you see?".  I looked at the Japanese men and could see instantly that they did not understand what he said, so I turned to the engineer, and translated, "What is the problem?" They nodded their heads and replied with their Japanese accents "dis notta acceptable arm movement, it need to move correctly for sample". The engineer looked at me so I picked up the action figure off the table pointed to the problem and said "The arm needs to be fixed".  To which he replied "Because the big sleeve problem. Sample only. Not right to work today. Wrong flavor material. Fine in production". I picked up the sample and turned to the Japanese men and said "This is only a clay sample. It will be corrected in ABS plastic in the production."  This went on and on over several points until everything finally resolved.

Afterwards I realized that I had always thought that I was clear and precise in my direction... but I probably wasn't as clear I thought I was.  The Roman philosopher and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero once said "If I had more time, I would write a short letter." This couldn't be more true than when dealing in international business. It's no  wonder that the Roman Empire was able to be so vast. They understood the importance of simple, precise communication. 

Matt Nuccio. "It Takes a Village to Raise an Industry." Toy & Family Entertainment, Jan 2011

For the past several years I've been attending the Tagie Awards. I've watch as the event has grown tremendously.  This years event, held at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, was completely sold out. It was hosted by the comedy stylings of Tim Walsh (inventor of Tribond, Blurt and filmaker, Toyland). The key note address was given by Hasbro Inventor relations main man, Mike Hirtle. The highlights of the evening for me were the Eddie Goldfarbs lifetime achievement award for toy inventing (notable Goldfarb toys are the Yakity-Yak Talking Teeth, Ker -Plunk and Battling Tops amongst many others) and the Young Inventor award presented by Seth  Calvin, 2009 winner and John Ratzenberger (of Cheers and Toy Story fame -he’s the voice of Hamm the piggy bank) and awarded to Ms. Kate Daniels.  I also enjoyed the open bar. ...perhaps a little too much.

  I must compliment Mary Couzin who puts the Tagie Awards together. The Toy Industry has watched as this gathering has become more and more important year after year. These events keep the industry grounded and the Toy community in touch with the gears that make it turn. Events like Time To Play Magazines Fall and Spring Preview, showcase new products in with a similar purpose. They get out the word that the Industry is adaptable and vital.

  At a time in which the various toy shows have begun to be disconnected, this social interplay is essential.  We need to keep in touch with each other on a personal basis. This takes more than an e-mail, Twitter or a instant message. It takes eye to eye contact with your industry peers. Tagie does all it can to highlight the importance of being a communicative industry, and we as an industry should do all we can to support these grass roots endeavors. See you at the next open bar.

Matt Nuccio. "Europe Versus the U.S.A." Toy & Family Entertainment, Oct 2010

I’m currently sitting on a plane heading back from a successful business trip to Europe. It was a quick trip full of trains, planes and automobiles. Although I am exhausted I thought I’d take a moment to jot down my impressions while they are still fresh in my mind.

Overall I must say I am impressed by the way the Europeans run their toy businesses. They are well organized "clean and mean" machines. We can certainly learn from their business methodology. While the Europeans import a fair share of their goods from the Orient, they have not completely given up their domestic operations. That’s what works for them. They are great planners and take the time to map out product programs and take the time to really study the market, right control their sales and product inventories. They are very structured. Everything is neat and focused. Toy companies there are concerned about the ecological environment and the welfare of their staff. These protocols give European toy makers the appearance of being much more business like, professional and socially conscious in contrast to the entrepreneurial thing that we got going on here.

On the other hand, there is something to be said about the American toy industries way of conducting business. Our “less structured” companies react quicker to new themes, trends and fashions. We also react to the "Get it done now" and "We need it on our desk tomorrow" school of thought. Americans can spin around fast and that is a powerful virtue when it comes to rushing new product to market, but it can also be the cause of nervous tics and hair loss amongst American toy company staffs.

When I thought about this on my flight home I realized that there were two schools of thought involved and they both had advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion the Europeans have it over us on these points, Structure, Ecology and Social Awareness. We have it over them on Speed, Recognizing trends and exploiting them. That’s three to three. A tie! But then I thought the ideal would be to meld both types of business models together. After all, both continents have been learning from each other for over three hundred years.

Matt Nuccio. "Manufacturing in the Middle East." Toy & Family Entertainment, Aug 2010

A few weeks ago, I stepped off of a plane into Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. In all honesty I was bit nervous. In preparation of my trip, I hadn't shaved in weeks, figuring a beard might help me fit in.  Although I knew that Jordan was a U.S. ally, I also knew it wasn't entirely safe. In 2005, suicide bombers had killed 60 people and injured another 115 when they blew up three hotels, including the one I was staying in, the Radission SAS Hotel. To add to my tattered state I was stupid enough to watch the Iraq war movie, The Hurt Locker, on my connecting flight into Heathrow. And so I stepped off that plane completely paranoid with two hours to kill waiting for my associate from my Hong Kong office to arrive and meet me. 

Design Edge, although known for our product and package design, also manufactures packaging for many companies around the world out of our Hong Kong-based Design Edge East division. Besides toys we supply for the garment, housewares and electronics industries. Until recently, Thailand had been a garment manufacturing hub, particularly underwear. But over the last two years the political system has be falling apart, so major companies had to start looking elsewhere to make their garments. High tariffs imposed by the U.S. caused them to leave China years earlier.

At first it was India, and then I watched it quickly shift over to Jordan. This made no sense to me at first. Common consensus is that India is supposed to be the next China. The toy industry has been getting wood out of Vietnam for years, so why not there or even Malaysia? As it turns out the U.S. has been subsidizing Jordanian manufacturing in exchange for open trade agreements with Israel in an effort to maintain the peace.

The following morning we were picked up by a driver and escorted to the factory. By the back window the driver had a Pound Puppy. It made me feel at home. But as we approached the industrial zone I read a road sign that read "30km to the Iraqi  boarder"...  and that wasn't very comforting. We arrived at the factory and were greeted by a man who looked like Osama Bin Laden. He politely brought us into a small office where a large portrait of King Abdullah II hung. I was a stranger in a strange land. Then a very average looking guy strolled in and introduced himself. Ramzi, was the head of operation there. He was cool and collected. His english was impeccable. He offered us coffee and asked us if we liked jazz. I told him I did and we proceeded to talk about Miles, Dizzy, Bird and Monk. Quickly I felt at ease. He then took us on a tour of his facility. It was state of the art. Impressive by any standard. He explained how Jordan business has been growing exponentially over the last few years, and how more and more top U.S. companies are moving in. Over the next three days we discussed our business objectives for the upcoming year and drafted the outlines for our agreement. Afterwards he took us to his favorite jazz bar. I was shocked at how westernized it was. The musicians were top notch and the cliental was friendly. We discussed politics and as I explained my fears of coming to Jordan, he expressed how scared he is to come to New York. We both agreed that the militant fundamentalists, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jew or Moony, are the problem and not the everyday people. We all just want to live in peace.  The next two days we set off as tourists visiting Petra, Philadelphia (yes they have a Philly - it's our city's name sake) shopping centers and city sights, and you know what? I found that everywhere we went people were charming, polite and very respectful to us. By the time I left I felt I was no longer nervous. I had learned that there is a giant world out there and we all just want a piece of the pie. When cultures unite we can accomplish anything. It seems to me that people are just scared of change. The toy industry has been in China for so long. At current time prices keep going up because of labor increases and material shortage. I'm not suggesting that we move the industry to Jordan, but I realize that we shouldn't be so complacent as to stay for the sake of staying. It's a big world out there. 

Matt Nuccio. "The Times They are A Changin'." Toy & Family Entertainment, March 2010

I just celebrated my 18th consecutive New York Toy Fair, although I have been to many more. I grew up in the design-end of the toy business and had helped out at a few Toy Fairs here and there in high school and college. Back then I was cutting comps, painting decos and building out showrooms in the old Toy Building. It was a bustling time. An exciting time. Things moved fast and showrooms were packed. Today it is different. The past few years I have seen less and less people attend the New York show, but New York is not alone. I have also seen less people at the Hong Kong and Nuremberg shows too. It would seem shows are far less necessary. As an outsource development company we see the trends as they happen. These days companies are meeting with retailers more and more outside of the shows. A few years ago there seemed to be a buying season; today we are preparing presentations, prototypes and packaging comps for sales meeting all year long. Today you can email a buyer an entire presentation rather than travel thousands of miles. Do the shows serve a purpose? For me the shows are a good way to see clients face-to-face and chat with the buyers. The shows, especially New York, are far more important to the small guys then to the big guns. I see this as a good thing. It gives the start-ups and small to mid-size companies face time with buyers, reps, media and designers. They don't have to worry about the big guys getting in their way. After all, companies like Mattel, Spin Master and Jakks did their own shows way back in October. To them New York Toy Fair is a media event. For now the shows still have a use. Let’s see what holds true in 5 years. Maybe I’ll see you then…

Matt Nuccio. "Frightening Halloween Packaging." Toy & Family Entertainment, Dec 2009

During this past Halloween season I walked the endless retail aisles of Halloween product. I was horrified by just how cloned all of the packaging was. It didn't seem to matter who made it. It all looked the same. It was as if someone stole the plot line from the film "Innovation of the Body Snatchers" and applied it to packaging. Did someone curse the industry to all look frighteningly the same? Halloween is a time to reinvent oneself.  It's time the industry follows suit. Let's dress up our packaging. 

Halloween product packages are typically rectangular cards with blister forms incasing the product and a large photo of the product, or the product's end result. As ingredients, there is nothing wrong here. But I think we need to throw some eye of newt into the potion. Let's lift the curse. Don't be afraid to have fun with the die lines. Have the card outline around the artwork. If you're building a blister form, utilize it.  Don't just incase the product. Raise the logo and/or tag lines up. Angle the photo a bit. Don't worry it won't effect your packing cube. Just make sure you don't exceed the height of the item itself. 

Packaging is your front line of sales. If you want to sell out, you need to stand out. Have fun, dress your packaging up. Just don't bore people to death.

Matt Nuccio. "Make it Rough." Toy & Family Entertainment, Oct 2009

Recently first-time client of mine called me in a complete panic. He was outraged over some layouts that my studio had sent him to review. “These will just really never work... They look just way too old fashion... You need to redo these... You missed the mark completely,” he told me. I was floored. What the...? I didn’t know what to do. I thought they looked great. I told him I’d call him back in twenty minutes. I sat down and viewed them. I laid them all out next to each other and went over them in great detail. They looked really on point to me. I was baffled, so I dragged each person in from the studio one by one and asked them for feedback. No one had any negative thoughts whatssoever. I couldn’t figure it out. I was scratching my head. I haven’t been this confused since I missed an episode of Twin Peaks over ten years ago. What do I do? How should I handle this? So I dialed him back and told him,“ I’m really sorry, I see absolutely nothing wrong with these at all." He paused and than snapped back, “ THEY'RE IN PENCIL!”

Is the art of pencil roughs dead? Has the age of hand skills gone way of the carrier pigeon and the dodo bird? It’s starting to seem that way. Nowadays days more and more of my client base doesn’t understand tight pencil concepts at all. Forget even showing them quick thumbnail pencils. More and more these quick thoughts are becoming only a reference for me and a handful of designers who were born pre-Carter.

I grew up in this business and as far back as I can recall we always started a layout off on paper. We’d just bust out a pencil or pen and scratch out some thoughts. That was just, well, the way it was done... Today people tend to bypass this step. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps the art schools don’t stress it as much as they should. Maybe designers are lazier than they once where. Personally I think it's a very important  part of the process that shouldn't be forgotten. It makes as much sense today as it did then, twenty or fifty years ago. Brainstorming concepts is 90% of any design. The labor is the easy part. A quick rough pencil or thumbnail is like jotting down some iconographic notes. Why would one let a program create boundaries for themselves right off the bat? Placing those thoughts on paper is a way of thinking things out with no limits. If the pencil works then the mechanical layout most certainly will.

Doodling a thumbnail sketch can be quicker and easier than wandering on a computer. One doesn’t need to draw in great detail or need much talent to do so. Circles and squares for placement of copy, models and products can suffice just fine. Simple shapes and formations can enable a designer to really think everything out ahead of time. It can also help a designer to avoid the pitfalls of generic layouts. Designers can be swayed by Photoshop filters and typeface restrictions, causing them to generate the same layout over and over. More filters can be like throwing fuel on a fire. It will only make things worse. Overly filtered layouts tend to look over done and amateur. Try and avoid filters in the infancy of a layout.

Every client has unique  parameters around how they would like to see their projects in progress. Some always want to see a pencil drawing first, while others want the designer to go straight into digital layouts (although I still do pencil thumbs beforehand). The reality is that it shouldn’t really matter to the designer. Whatever gets the your creative juices going is the way to run. When presenting concepts to clients I have always relied on myriad techniques and materials. We’ve pitched concepts in a variety of mediums like cut paper, napkin sketches (luckily we’ve never had a Spinal Tap stone hedge in danger of being trampled by dwarfs), verbally, written out, marker layouts and I believe once we used two bottles and eighteen tooth picks. The fact of the matter is it really doesn’t matter as long as it is not stifling to the layout. I find working strictly on a computer limiting. A computer is only a tool. If it’s not working for you, just pick up a different tool and blast away. Find what works best for the client as well. If your client screams “THEY'RE IN PENCIL!” then you may want to give them only digital layouts.

Some people are bewitched by simple thumb nail drawings. To them, drawing is a gift that impresses them greatly. I hear people say a million times, “I can’t even draw a straight line." Truth be told, neither can I, or anyone else I know in this business for that matter. That’s what rulers are for. Penciling layout concepts is a great way to plan things out. If a pencil doesn’t work for you, then find what does. Just create the new, freshest layout you can every time and try not to repeat yourself.

Matt Nuccio. "Licensing: Then and Now." Royaltie$, June 2009

Well another licensing show is now upon us. This time around we’re all at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. A new location means that we are no longer subject to the humid New York City June weather. It also means that there will be no more long waits at the Javits Center’s cab lines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a New Yorker, I love this place. Great shopping, awesome site-seeing and a myriad of clubs, restaurants and bars for everyone’s tastes. But it was a good long run in the good ol’ big apple. Good or bad, all things must pass. Times have changed and Las Vegas seems to be a very fitting answer for our ever-changing industry. Good bye humid New York City June, hello dry desert sun. The licensing show is here.

Just as Las Vegas (Spanish for “The Meadows”) has grown up from its days as a small railroad town into a modern metropolis of gambling, shows and shopping, so too has the licensing industry evolved. The licensing industry has gone from small little endorsement deals into a billion dollar industry. Today’s market environment is adorned with licensed properties such as Dora the Explorer, Jeep, Swiss Army, Disney Princess, Nascar, Coca Cola and Thomas and Friends, and that is just to name a few. Licensors provide style guides that dictate how products may look and how packages will display them. In today's marketplace the right license can be the difference between an item becoming a close-out or a massive super blockbuster hit. Licensing can now propel an item by umbrellaing its marketing dollars across many categories and advertising mediums such as television, radio and print. As a result, license properties can sometimes demand hefty percentages of profit and large dollar advances and guarantees. And that’s basically how things are done today, but it wasn’t always that way.

A long time ago, way back in the 1970's, licensing was a very different animal.  Back then, licensing was seen as a joint venture between the licensor and licensee. It was a way for a licensor to further promote their movie, television show, or whatever property they were pedaling. Believe it or not it wasn't an uncommon practice for a second and, sometimes even, a first tier license property to be given out to a company free of any charge… it was simply written off as a form of advertising. The more the exposure a license had the more revenue a licensor could count on from record sales, movies or whatever the line’s main focus was. It wasn’t uncommon for you to see several characters from different licensing companies on the same exact piece of package art. In the early 1970’s Mego toys, the then kings of action figures, displayed both DC and Marvel Comic characters on the same package at the same time. In today’s market this would be considered a licensing sin punishable by death (aka contract cancellation). But times where different then. It wasn't until a little toy company in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kenner Toys, had a massive success with a then unknown property that things changed rapidly, almost overnight, into the business we all know today.

Kenner Toys had acquired, almost by default, the Star Wars license. Interestingly, no other toy company wanted to even touch the Star Wars at the time. Previously, Star Trek had been a major flop as a toy line, and toy companies saw too many comparisons between the two properties (mostly because of the fact that they both took place in outer space). Star Wars was rejected by every major toy company that it was presented to.  Meanwhile, companies like HG Toys, who also turned down the Star Wars license, were manufacturing dress-up sets for 4 year olds and up, based on R rated films like Alien and Serpico... go figure. But after Star Wars everything changed. Licensing matured quickly as the television and film industry realized that there were hefty dollars to be made at retail. They wanted in and got in.

And so today, licensing is king. My, how the times have changed. Welcome to Vegas baby.

Matt Nuccio. "Breaking Technology." Toy & Family Entertainment, Feb 2009


At the current moment I am sitting in a travelers lounge inside the Hong Kong International Airport after the second leg of a three-legged journey heading to Singapore. I’m passing my time trying to keep myself amused. In the last few days I have flown five plus hours from New York to Los Angles and just completed a fifteen hour flight from Los Angles to Hong Kong. I’m now waiting to embark on a five hour, third leg of my trip to my final destination, Singapore. All in all I’m tired, cranky and bored to death. I finished reading the book I brought along hours ago and I’m already completely sick of rereading the same two magazines. I just fruitlessly attempted to sketch the passers by. I figure I’m just burnt out from jet lag. Now the question has become, “What to do during my four hour layover?” It seems like an eternity to waste before my next flight. And if I’m going to stay awake I’m going to need some mental stimulation.

I’m heading down to Singapore on a three day trip to meet with new technology partners. I’m hoping to bring back something new and exciting to the toy industry, so the simple idea of technology is on my mind. And so, with time to kill and an expansive airport to explore, I set off on my search for interesting products.

For those of you who have never been, the Hong Kong International Airport is essentially a massive mall with a comparatively small tarmac and some planes. One can easily get lost for days on end there. This ridiculously large mall of an airport is honey combed with trendy clothing shops, makeup counters, coffee bars, restaurants, gift shops, toy shops, bakeries, high-end electronic stores and much more. Being just too large of a caucasian to fit into any of the clothes on this side of the world I find myself wandering towards the electronics and toy shops. I’m looking mostly for neat gadgets and gizmos. I pass the time flipping through odd and quirky products that light up, flip around, spin and make countless noises. In general I’m surprised by the overall simplicity of the products here. I find very little in regards to the high-end technologies I expect to see in Asia. The consumer electronic stores are just filled with iPod accessories, cell phones and cameras. There is nothing new, nothing odd, nothing I can’t find in the states.

Directing my focus to the toys and gift shops I start to take notice that most of the innovation I’m spotting is actually very low tech, non-electronic type items. Simple twists on classic stuff. I start to wonder is there any innovation here? And then I ask myself a more important question: what constitutes innovation? The trend these days seems to be scouting for the latest hand held digital devices. I see it on every toy company’s inventor wish list: “innovative electronics.” But innovation is not only on a motherboard. It can be a simply engineered device, a change of color, or even a new texture. It doesn’t necessarily have to always mean digital or electronic goods. Basically, anything is innovative as long as it’s clever.

Having time to kill and being too cheap to buy anything, I find myself a spot to soak up some free wifi. I sign onto google and start searching through key words like technology, innovation and invention. I am looking for a connection and some clarity by definition. I’m having trouble clearly defining the words in my profession circumstance. The definitions I find seem to overlap each other. The word change seems to keep appearing. I continue to search and after about thirty minutes I stumble across an ancient Chinese proverb (probably because I’m googling in China) that states, to paraphrase, “Change is like an open field of grass. A new trail is only created after many people have walked along the exact same path.” And then I think to myself, that’s it... innovation is the ability to lead the forces of change. Technology, thoughts, inventions can all be innovative. It’s whether or not it’s embraced that leads to change.

And so, for the moment, I feel comfortable with my conclusion. I feel a sense of definition to my task ahead. I realize that I’m not necessarily looking for technology for technology’s sake. I’m looking for an innovative way to provoke change. I’m now able to pack up and set off to Singapore with a clearer purpose. My search for change has begun.

Matt Nuccio. "Product Design." Royaltie$, June 2008

I constantly ask myself how a well-designed product is defined. What makes a smart design? What makes it edgy? Is it something that just hits you right away? Is it something that is right in your face and assaulting you non-stop? My gut feeling is to say, "Yeah!" But then I draw a parallel to own my interests, such as music, and I notice that I couldn’t stand most of the artists I like now when I first heard them. Most of my favorite musicians have never had a top ten hit, nor have they ever won a Grammy. Yet they go on for years, selling millions of albums and selling out venues all over the world. When I think of the song that caught on right away and won a Grammy I recall a plethora of one hit wonders. "Ice Ice Baby," anyone? Product design is very much the same way. It can be a trend or a staple. When analyzing this I start to realize that I need to ask my clients right off the bat, "Is this bubble gum pop or classic rock?"

Hit products come and go, but strong, sensible design lingers for years. When approaching a new design I’m very conscious of adding value to a client's product. It’s one thing to have amazing function, but it’s double the punch to have it look great. An elegant or smart design can help raise the perceived value of your product, helping to give it that needed push against its competition. If the retail shelf is stacked with a hundred clone products, you may want to push the envelope a bit.

Don’t be afraid to look different — it may help you stand out. Like the garment business, designers have a strong influence on trends, and a well-designed product can dictate a sense of fashion. Remember the iMac? It seemed like the world was inundated with transparent colors for years after its introduction. A friend of mine even had an iMac orange toilet seat. It doesn’t get any more elegant than that.

Looks aren’t everything. Not only is that the story you’ve heard from your friends over many a blind date, it is also the truth behind product design. Eliminating manufacturing overhead is extremely important when designing or redesigning a product. If it looks great, but adds considerably to the cost, it may be over designed. A smart design should try and keep in mind the manner in which an item will be manufactured while maintaining integrity and safety. Even if it looks amazing you might want to reconsider rotocasting a slide-in tray when a vacuum form would do the same job for a fraction of the cost. If necessary, try working backwards. Start off with a price point and tweak the product until you hit it. If this is the case it may be wise to consider limiting the amount of molds, material and assemble actions required to produce. The old "less is more" theory holds especially true here. A difficult production process can cause delays and raise costs. If you create a design that requires a factory to outsource for labor and/or material, you need to anticipate headaches, considering that factory capabilities are a big must in product design. If you know you are going to be using a specific factory, you may want to inquire about its capabilities. What process does it use? What might it need to outsource? Whether your product is plastic or wood you should inquire about material availability. Some materials are commodities and are subject to market value. If necessary, be sure to indicate exactly what you have in mind, but be open to the factory's suggestions. Many times factories have simple solutions that you may have overlooked. Make sure to keep the communication open and always insist on seeing samples before production has begun. Many issues can be corrected simply by reviewing a sample beforehand.

Looks may not be everything, but they're very important to the consumer. A smart design can be very refreshing, but be careful not to reinvent the wheel. It is good marketing to leave some semblance to a product category. You may not want to blur the lines too much between markets. Buyers can get lost when this happens — they may love the concept, but they become unsure about which department the item belongs in, leaving your product in retail purgatory or even worse, the wrong retail aisle all together. Be sure to visually announce what your product does. Simple features are the easiest to convey in packaging or on the sample floor. You can’t always rely on TV or in-store demos, so make sure it speaks for itself.

Whether you like classic rock or bubble gum pop, you must make sure your design is sensible. Adding value to a client's product and eliminating unnecessary manufacturing overhead is important, as is product integrity and safety. Now let's get out there and help change the retail world one well thought out product design at a time.

Matt Nuccio. "The Whole Package." Toy & Family Entertainment, Jan 2008

It is amazing how many times a new client will approach me with a beautifully designed box that they paid a bundle for, and want it redesigned. They’ll walk up to me and show me an elegant, sophisticated layout that is astonishing to look at. I’ll scratch my head and think, “This is amazing.” I don’t feel right changing it up. Usually I’ll inquire, “What’s the deal?” Why are you looking to redesign this? The most common answer, Wal-mart won’t touch it.

This is where my job really begins. Why would Wal-mart, or any of the big boys, neg a smart and bold layout? Why? For exactly that reason. The package is too sophisticated. They are selling to the common market, and want consumers to look and say, “wow.” They understand that a layout can pigeonhole a product into a much tighter demographic simply by being overdesigned. An understanding of the marketplace is the most powerful tool a designer can utilize. Before even hitting the ground, I really try to analyze the marketplace. I’ll go shopping and surf the internet. I try to become aware of what the retail environment currently looks like. After all, whatever I design is going to have to sit on the shelf next to its competition. It’s my job to make sure that the consumer knows what they are looking at before they read a lick of type. Behold the power of the package!

There are many factors that go into designing for the marketplace, but there are no rules, only principles. Since a package is generally made up of numerous elements, a stale design can be refreshed simply by analyzing color, fonts, construction, photos, illustration or element positioning. What can generate greater appeal for your product? On a shelf where everyone is blue you may want to be red. The trick is making sure the correlation between market and package is there. There is a reason Barbie’s not in a black box. There is a reason you can’t always read half of the logos on the Hip Hop stuff out there. There is even a reason why most action figures come on blister cards and not in polybags with headers. There are reasons for everything. But not all of them are good. It’s the designer’s job to review and figure out what to differentiate and what to keep in line with the rest of the market. Ask, look and observe constantly and the designs that you create will stand out. Say nothing, ask nothing and do what you want and you’ll be out of business. Think, why wouldn’t you put Barbie in an all black package?

Color can make or break a package. I see it all the time. Sometimes a color change can double your sales numbers. Color can be trendy and color can be conservative. Use color to aim at your demographic. Fashion is a great place to see what is trending. At least this is the excuse my wife uses to get me to go shopping with her. Color should not be overlooked. All too often a client will request a color change, simply because their grandson’s favorite color is orange. That’s fine and great if it’s orange juice, but not the most logical choice for lemonade. Color can just as easily confuse as it can attract. Color is an important factor in production as well. Not every color can be hit on press in a basic four-color printing. For instance, orange can look brownish, losing that punch the designer probably intended. If you really want that in your face bright orange, go the extra expense on the fifth color press. It will be worth it.

When designing a package I like to believe you need to think out of the box, in the box, and back out of the box. Structure is a key ingredient to the packaging. Unlike color, changing package styles to differentiate oneself may be the kiss of death. If your product is planogramed to be sorted on peg hooks, why would you want to design a box? The shape and style of your package enables a buyer to place it into a planogram. Design it right and you won’t have to resize it for every vendor. It may sound logical to make a large package that billboards in the aisle, but if the stock boy can only put two out at a time you may want to see what everyone else is doing. If they are getting six on a shelf you should be looking to get the same. On the other hand, shrinking a package to gain more self space may be more of a horror show. If the competition is out at the same price with a larger box they’ll win via perceived value. Try and keep your packages in or around the same size as the rest and you’ll be fine.

At the end of the day a package is a just package - a package that your company has spent thousands on developing. Make sure it not only looks good, but it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Make sure it’s selling your product in two seconds. Don’t worry about tons of copy that explains everything on the front panel. The more you add, the less impact. If the consumer has had their interest peaked, they’ll pick it up. They’ll flip it over. They’ll read it. Keep it clean and keep it understandable and maybe Wal-mart will write that order next time. Remember the package is your front line of defense out in the rough retail environment, so make sure you have all your bases covered.

Matt Nuccio. "Licensed Product." Toy & Family Entertainment, June 2007

Over here at Design Edge/BuyProduct we’ve invented, patented and licensed tons of items over our twenty years of existence in the design industry. We’ve touched on just about every avenue of juvenile products. We have created games, plush, furniture, room décor, garment, action figures, dolls, sporting goods, vehicles, pool items and so on and so on. It seems that no matter how energetic, obvious and/or strong an item is there has always been one constant that helps to drive sales in almost every category imaginable, and that is licenses.

In the present market place, licenses adorn just about everything, but only as recently as ten years ago, most of our cliental was hesitant and very wary about which, if any, license they would even consider thinking about. Today things are far different. We all live and work in a license-driven world that seems to be ever strengthening and expanding. No longer is it a decision of whether or not to put a license on an item, it is now almost completely a call of which license to choose. It would seem that if a product at retail is going to have just about any legs at all, it needs to be license friendly. Good or bad, licenses have stretched beyond simple slapped-on labels to become possible brands and categories of their very own, if they are not already. Many large and small manufacturing companies have now anchored their foundations in six, sometimes seven figure deals. They are banking on these risky deals in hopes of sizeable box office receipts, nelson ratings and publishing translating to retail sales. One thing is certain, no matter how proven, tried or true a license is, it is simply nothing without the right quality product to back it up.

No matter how strong or recognizable a character or logo is it is not just the license alone that brings an item to the register, it is the products function that ultimately sustains the buzz. In our industry an item absolutely needs to look great, entertain and be flat out fun. A product, no matter how hyped the license is, needs to have legs of its own in order to truly hit the ground running with or with out a good license. True, some licenses have natural extensions simply by virtue, but be wary since sometimes they are too obvious. For example just how many Spiderman 3 web shooters can the retail world absorb? Personally, through Design Edge alone, I’ve seen water, foam, and dart webshooters at every price point. I can only imagine what I haven’t seen. Regardless, manufactures push forward knowingly with hopes that retail will narrow them down to only one or two. Then it’s up to the consumers to vote with their wallets.

So how can one stand out in a world of licensed goods? As an inventor I’m not too keen on companies simply slapping logos on packages and products. Licensors aren’t fans of this practice either. The idea is to enhance the brand and product—not pimp it.

Lining up the right license with the proper product concept can be done in a variety of ways. There are really no specific formulas, positions or even rules per say. You just need to make absolutely sure that the license and product make absolute sense together. They really need to honestly compliant each other like any great relationship. A strong product with a bad license can sink really fast at retail. In the end it kills any future for the product to live on, no matter how good of an idea it was. It can just as easily affect a licensing program by just collecting dust on a shelf therefore lending to inventor returns and discounts at great a loss.

Generally when assisting a company with their licensing or retail pitch we review all the categories the company holds in their contract and try to cater to their specific manufacturing strengths.

Licensed products are here to stay. Long gone are the days of new brands built around single products without a license decorating the package. Good, bad or indifferent, this relationship will persist as one cannot survive without the other.