April 24, 2023

Q and A with Ed Whieldon – Buying and Sourcing Director

Collectables and pocket money toys have been a massive market for the UK toy industry. The latest industry data from Circana shows that last year one in five toys were from the collectable sector, accounting for 13% of the value of all sales.

Sambro has long-standing expertise in this sector, working with global brands and licences, including Disney, Mattel, Paramount and others, to deliver creative collectable toys which surprise and delight kids and their parents.

In our first Q and A series, in which Sambro’s experts will tackle some of the toy industry’s big and burning questions, Ed Whieldon, Buying and Sourcing Director, shares his views on all things collectables and pocket money…

A picture of the Sambro, buying and sourcing director stood in Sambro's showroom.
A picture of the Sambro, buying and sourcing director stood in Sambro’s showroom.

How does the collectables and pocket money toys sector look this year?

As a rule, pocket money toys and collectables have always been a huge sector for the toy industry and for Sambro it’s a great volume driver and one of our biggest growing sectors over the last few years.

We’ve really seen it pick up post-pandemic and, in particular, during the current economic climate, as parents look to spend on toys that offer value for money and have play value that kids can enjoy time and time again.

Our ethos at Sambro unashamedly is value, with a large percentage of our customers sitting in the value retail space (although value should not be confused with cheap), which means that quality and value for money are crucial driving forces for our product development.

Collectables and pocket money toys are a staple for us and have grown exponentially within a short period. Since the launch of our own collectables range, Puzzle Palz™, in 2017, we have sold more than 55 million units, and it doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

What are the main challenges facing the sector?

It’s a crowded marketplace, with many brands vying for a small selling space at the retail level. It’s also a challenge to keep the pipeline of new characters and NPD coming through, meeting demand for new and collectable products.

To meet this demand, our development and design teams can be working on anything up to four or five new waves of characters and designs at any one time, ensuring we always have fresh new concepts, offering us a distinct point of difference.

How is the cost of living crisis impacting the sector?

In contrast to other sectors, the cost of living crisis has positively impacted collectables and pocket money toys, thanks to the demand for more affordable toys. Shoppers are spending less but more sensibly, shifting towards purchases that are low in price but have high cost-per-play ratios.

What are retailers looking for when it comes to collectables and pocket money toys?

This boils down to knowing what consumers want, and naturally, retailers will invest in products they know will appeal to their target shoppers. Price is still a key driving force in this sector, with demand for toys that will sell at a value price, but other drivers are at play.

Consumers are making more informed purchases regarding sustainability, opting for toys with a planet-positive impact. At Sambro, we’re currently moving away from single-use packaging across all our categories to more sustainable options, which will help fortify our appeal with retailers and consumers.

There’s also an affinity for specific licences and characters, with desirability for familiar brands and franchises, such as Disney, Paw Patrol, Mattel etc… And our most popular products with retailers tend to sit across these licenses.

Will collectables and pocket money toys retain their popularity?

Yes! As long as the sector can retain its value-for-money price point and quality proposition. The current economic climate looks set to continue, which means collectables and pocket money will continue to dominate for sure.

What impact are TikTok and social media having?

These toys are perfect for the ‘unboxing’ and surprise and delight trends we’re seeing on social media. Our Bops N Tops™ and Puzzle Palz™ ranges have been developed with this in mind, thanks to their collectability and element of surprise – you never know which character you’ll get!

We worked with influencers recently, generating some amazing content that captured genuine joy from kids and their parents when unwrapping their favourite characters, which was a delight to see from a brand point of view.

Products that lend themselves well to being keepsakes and not single-use or throwaway have a certain appeal to a far-reaching consumer base, making them perfect for the influencer generation.

What’s next for Sambro?

Lots – probably too much to capture here! But we have some exciting new licences and character launches planned across our key ranges, including Puzzle Palz™ as well as new ranges for Disney, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to name but a few.

For more information on Sambro’s collectables and pocket money toys offering contact sales@sambro.com

Georgia Dunn