as cheap Chinese toys are flooding the domestic market,
the Rs 45-crore-turnover Funskool India is planning to
convert concepts to games for the UK market.
Funskool India chief executive Raphael Kuriyan: "We
will soon sign an agreement with a British marketing company
to design and manufacture toys based on concepts given
by the foreign company." Funskool has already designed
a couple of games for the UK company and a formal announcement
to this effect will soon be made.
the task is not simple. The company''s design team has
to understand the British ethos to convert the concept
into a final product. "The offshoot is that our design
team will gain valuable experience and the same will be
applied for the domestic market," adds Kuriyan.
company during the last year increased its export basket
to Hasbro International, USA. Hasbro holds a 40-per cent
stake in Funskool''s Rs 4-crore equity while tyre major
MRF holds the balance. In addition to action hero figures
and some generic games, Funskool has started exporting
wooden building blocks for Hasbro''s global markets. The
company exports around 10 products to Hasbro.
many other industries, the China factor is a major issue
for the domestic toy manufacturers, which has resulted
in a chaotic market condition. Not long ago the Indian
and the Chinese toy industries were at par. Last year
the Chinese exported around $8-billion worth of toys.
Kuriyan says the Indian imports will be around Rs.150
crore, which is nearly half of the domestic toy market.
issue is not only cheap toys but also counterfeits, which
impact the legal licencee of a toy, says Kuriyan. "I
am not against imports. But what is needed is the laying
down of standards toxicity and safety and
strict implementation of laws to tackle the counterfeits."
the issue of standards, the toy manufacturers'' association
has submitted to the Indian government to apply any one
of the following standards British, American, German
or Japanese since all are similar in nature.
is of the view that the Chinese toys will be an issue
for the domestic organised players for another three more
years before customers will turn away from the poor quality
products. "This happened in batteries and is happening
in other products. But will take some more time in the
toys segment as the product life cycle is longer,"
doesn''t mean imports will stop. But the import basket
will consist of high-priced products that will compete
on the equal footing with that of domestic organised players.
"In a way the cheap Chinese toys are a blessing in
disguise as it is helping in growing the market and developing
new product segments," says Kuriyan.
there is a change in people''s perception of toys. Educated
parents are viewing toys as a child development tool apart
from its entertainment value. "It is the literacy
level that shapes the perception and not the family income,"
the toys segment could be classified into board games,
building blocks and dolls. While Funskool leads in the
board games, Lego and Mattel are the leaders in the building
blocks and dolls segments. "Our strength is in board
games and action hero figures. We also have a presence
in segments where Lego and Mattel are present," says
Funskool marketing manager David Daniel Selvaraj.
to him, Funskool is now promoting its toys heavily in
schools. Thanks to the poor penetration of personal computers,
the toy industry is not greatly affected by the computer
games though today many small kids are adept in playing
the adults the company recently launched a family quiz
game, Trivial Pursuits and Jenga, a game
with small wooden blocks.