toy-making is serious business in southern california - super absorbent polymer balls
When the little daughter of the toy designer was fascinated by the gel
Just like the beads in the vase, there is only one conclusion to come to: "There must be a toy here," said Ron Braun, a partner of the Maya Group, a veteran in the toy industry. The fast-
The growing Torrance company has developed dozens of toys based on these transparent polymer particles.
One of the toys, a modified water gun called Xploderz XBlaster 200, is the finalist of the annual 2012 Outdoor Toy Award from the Toy Industry Association. in New York.
The toy industry is an important part of Southern California's economy.
It has created 9,500 jobs in Los Angeles and Orange County;
According to Los Angeles County Economic Development, 276 companies contribute more than $53 million in taxes each year.
According to estimates by research firm NPD Group Inc. , Toys sold as much as $21 billion nationwide last year, most of which were designed domestically
Toy Industry Association. About $2.
1 billion of them were made in the United States. S.
The Southern California toy design is only comparable to New York, which has some of the best toys in the worldknown brands.
Mattel company. in El Segundo (
Barbie and the maker of the wind and fire wheels)
Jacob Pacific. in Malibu (
Licensee of Pokemon and Hello Kitty)
Beishan's imperial toys produce licensed products for brands such as "SpongeBob" and "Transformers.
And MGA Entertainment. in Van Nuys (Bratz dolls)
And Jada Toys.
In the industrial city (
Donka and my pony)
"This is a holy land for toy development," said Brawer, the creative force behind marketing and sales for the Maya group.
"It's the 405 Toy Corridor.
Between Irvine and Van Nuys, the world's eight largest toy companies are either there or have offices there.
"Toy design is very big here," said Peter Wachtel, chairman of the Toy Association . ".
He estimates that the toy industry in the region employs up to 20,000 workers directly or indirectly.
"Southern California and New York are hot spots," Wachtel said . " Several factors, including the region's huge warehouse and distribution system, have attracted companies to the south, he said.
Wachtel noted that Los Angeles and Long Beach are the two largest container ports in the United States;
Provided by the United States's two largest trans-continental rail systems, the Pacific and BNSF;
There are two important freight airports, Los Angeles International Airport and Ontario airport.
The residual power of the aerospace industry in the region is also a source of design expertise.
"These are huge advantages," said Wachtel . "
"Los Angeles is still working when the East Coast has fallen asleep.
"Another factor is the wealth of local talent," said Isaac Cunningham, chief executive of MGA Entertainment.
"A lot of people, especially creative people, just want to live here," Larian said . ".
"We found most of the people we needed here.
We rarely hire designers from outside the state.
Charles Wu, ceo of the business giant, said Hollywood and the entertainment industry have also attracted talent.
"Creativity is important," Woo said . ".
"There are many factories in China, but there is not much creativity.
If I advertise for toy designers, I will hear from hundreds of locals.
An analyst says schools in the region are key to developing talent.
"You have some of the best design projects in America. S.
"Here," said Edward Wu, a senior research analyst in Irving's emerging capital markets toy industry, with nothing to do with Charles Wu.
Among these schools, the most mentioned is Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Seventy-
Deborah Ryan, who is in charge of toy design projects, said five of oti's approximately 1,800 students are in the toy design department, about 15 more students than usual.
"We got a different type of student because the young people who came here knew it was an intensive program," Ryan said.
They tend to be very mature and focused.
"Otis has become a virtual employment engine for the toy community.
Ryan said that of the 18 members of the toy design project in 2012, the only two who have not yet found a job have not even found a job.
Others found a job in Mattel, Spin Master Ltd. , Hasbro Inc.
, Empire toys, Yahoo Pacific, Jada Toys & Razer USA Ltd.
Film and set design.
For many of these reasons, the story of the Maya group occupies a prominent position in the toy landscape of Southern California.
When Mattel acquired Tyco Toys, the company he worked for, Brawer was pulled into Southern California orbit from New Jersey, in 1996.
Over the next 13 years, he has honed his skills at Mattel and MGA Entertainment.
For the latter, he helped the Bratz brand grow into one of the best-selling toy collections.
Brawer then served as president of the company's European business in London for two years.
In London, Brawer and his wife, Sharon Cohen, stumbled upon the origins of their next adventure when their daughter, Maya, kept fiddling with something soft, A slightly moist polymer bead sitting in a vase.
Soon after, the family returned home to the beach in Manhattan, where the couple joined a company called Maya Group, which sells radiosControl Toys.
It's owned by Oded Ben.
Ezer, named after her daughter, is still a partner in the company.
When Cohen heard about the source of the Maya group name, she knew that she and her husband were on track.
"It's just meant to be," said Cohen, marketing director at Maya group . ".
But after years of working for companies with unlimited resources, they began to rock bottom in 2009 and are in the economic turmoil caused by the worst global recession in recent memory.
"We started from the garage," Brawer recalls with a smile . ".
Cohen says everything they need to start is near them.
"Our house is an office and a workshop.
The living room turned into a showroom.
The restaurant is a meeting room.
"Dinner Dialogue is a business dialogue," Cohen recalls . ".
"Our product photography was taken by a neighbor.
A patent lawyer for us.
A couple volunteered to join our focus group.
We did research in local schools and entertainment programs. It was all-
Consumption, stress and stimulus. "The super-
Their products were absorbent polymers developed in the 1960 s.
When put into the water, these tiny particles expand to 300 times its size and remain in the water for a few weeks.
Farmers used them during the drought, in the flower industry and in disposable diapers.
A set of products will use the Orbeez brand name and focus on the fun of growing beads, turning them into lights, decorations and other things.
"Through my years of exposure in the industry, we were able to get some of these products on the store shelves in Target and Toys R & D city," Brawer said . ".
"But what we really need to do is do a commercial.
This is a very risky thing.
"It's risky because most small companies can't afford to buy TV commercials at that stage at all.
"The cost of production is $100,000.
On top of that, you need to spend $1 million to broadcast it. "Brawer said.
"So you spent more than $1.
1 million, we don't have enough products to cover it.
Brawer said: "But commercial advertising on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network has made the company rise rapidly.
The Maya group now has 20 employees.
Brawer said sales grew from about $5 million in 2009 to nearly $100 million this year.
The Orbeez collection includes a toy bug with a shit bead, which can then be vacuumed.
Another popular toy is the girl's toy foot spa, which allows them to copy with the average girl what the mother they see likes.
For these boys, their reaction was almost universal: "They would say 'these are paintballs '.
"We want to shoot them," Brawer said . ".
Brawer says the beads are perfect from a physical point of view, able to withstand the initial force that the projectile must withstand without breaking or breaking, and being able to launch more than 100 feet, hit the opposing player without causing injury or pain.
Nevertheless, a lot of physics and engineering is required to make a cartridge box that holds a damp "shell", but cannot be used to fire more lethal objects such as small stones or metal ball bearings.
For the project, the company turned to Keith Meggs, who worked in Mattel for 26 years before he retired in 2009.
Meggs joined the Maya group and intends to use his design background there for no more than a few weeks.
Instead, he stayed and is now a partner of the Maya group.
The company continues to refine its products, including the recently launched brands called Color Splasherz and BlasterPro.
The quirky charm of a little girl seems to have a long way to go.
"We are the top 20 toy companies," Cohen said . "
"The chairman of Toys R & R now walks through our showroom every year. He's a big fan. "ron. white@latimes.