Thinking about Christmas yet? One company in the West Midlands has been getting ready ever since the last big day passed.
And today it reveals some of the toys it expects to be big hits come December 25.
As the dark nights draw in, Barry Hughes, managing director of Golden Bear Products, says shoppers are finally getting in the mood for Christmas and stepping up their plans.
That means an exciting time for Barry and his team at the firm, based close to the M54 in Hortonwood, Telford, after the launch of a host of new products this year, including many taking the global market by storm.
Among their creations are Smart Ball SoccerBot and a game called Farty Freddie, both of which are now on sale at leading retailers, while sales of the company’s Curlimals range continues to soar. They are now on the market in the USA, along with more than 50 other countries.
“We have looked at a lot of analysis and Christmas has started much later this year,” Barry said.
“We do research, for example, on Amazon, and can see when searches build up on things like festive gifts, trees and decorations.
“Things are six weeks behind and I think the weather has had an impact.
“It’s only turned about a week ago and it’s amazing how much that impacts things,When people are walking around in short sleeves, they not thinking about Christmas.
“The cost of living has also played a part, of course, with people having to wait for their monthly pay before they can spend money.”
“The combination of those two things have prevented even people who start their Christmas shopping early from doing much.”
But Barry said he has started to see things shift a bit more and, reflecting on Golden Bear Products, he said: “We have got some winners. One of the most exciting products we have created is SoccerBot, which has been three years in development.
“I had tasked the team and said ‘Can we find a football product that mum and dad will let you play indoors?’
“This is it and research has shown we have ticked all the boxes.We launched it two weeks ago and it’s selling out everywhere.
“Basically – if you imagine a little vacuum cleaner that you can set to do the carpet – this is a little bot that comes with its own ball, which it chases and it tries to tackle you.
“You have got to try and keep the ball and avoid the bot and you have three lives.”
“It has six different speeds and works on hard floor or carpet and you can set the size you play in.
“It can work for a six-year-old starting out or a professional player and it gets you up and active, exercising inside on dark nights, improving football skills no end. It’s the most exciting product I have ever worked on.”
Golden Bear has also launched a football quiz game called Fanzone, for up to six players. It is electronic and takes players through an interactive journey, with lights and sounds. It is ‘going down a storm’, says Barry.
Award-winning interactive soft toy range Curlimals continues to grow too and is being searched more than it was last year.
“We are in 55 countries now,” said Barry.
“It’s a big success story and we have just gone on the shelf in Walmart in the US, which is a major victory for a family firm in Shropshire.
“We have extended the range with Bella the Bear, which has wings that light up and Arctic characters, like penguins and seals.”
“And we have also created a new game based on a character called Farty Freddie! It’s like a farting pass the parcel.
“Kids just love that and we give that to people and ask them to film it and we use that for marketing because it’s so genuine, the laughter and the fun from it.”
And while all eyes are on this Christmas, the work never stops.
“We are working on Christmas 2024 and 2025,” Barry adds.”We are presenting to retailers what we are going to be launching next year and also working on the development of the year after. We are always looking ahead.
“It can be a challenge because you have to predict the future all of the time, what the economic environment will be like in two years and you have got to predict what the trends will be. It’s a fashion industry in a weird way.
“But we take learnings from this year and what’s working and think about how to take products to the next level.”
Source: Shropshire Star