Taking the US by storm is child's play

Toys are all about child's play; selling them to the best-known toy retailer in the world's biggest consumer market is anything but.

East Bentleigh-based Moose Enterprises is making it look childishly simple, though, exporting children's toys to 85 countries including the US, where the giant Toys 'R' Us chain has picked up several of its top sellers.

It's a huge honour for the little Aussie toy company that could.

Toys 'R' Us lists two of Moose's products in its top-15 toys list; the only other companies to twice make this year's prestigious list are US-based conglomerates Mattel and Hasbro.

Meanwhile, Moose's Blingles - a set of jewel-like sticky mosaics used to add "bling" to possessions - has been nominated for US Toy of the Year, the industry's biggest award that will be announced at the New York Toy Fair in February.

It's a huge honour for the little Aussie toy company that could, and coincides with a major assault on the billion-dollar US toy market.

Moose's co-CEO, Paul Solomon, said the company already had a handful of products "on range" in the US - syndicated through major retailers - backed by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.

"This year is the first year we've gone in direct to the US ourselves," he said. "We've gone in on our own and we're now selling to all the major US retailers including Walmart, Target and Toys 'R' Us."

Moose Enterprises employs about 70 people at its Melbourne office, a similar number at its China and Hong Kong manufacturing and distribution facilities and another 10 between branch offices in the US and Britain.

Mr Solomon, 36, took over the company 12 years ago along with co-CEO Manny Stul and director Jacqui Tobias, both family members. Initially importing and on-selling toys made by overseas manufacturers, they decided the only way to stay in business was to be at the industry's cutting edge.


"A great point of difference is that we create and manufacture most of the products we sell," Mr Solomon said.

"It's not an easy thing to do and it has taken many years. Creating your own toys then allows you to export them worldwide."

Moose's Melbourne headquarters is at the heart of the company's creativity and innovation. "We can compete as long as we keep coming up with the great product. That's the way we do it. We have a great reputation out there and a great track record. We've had many hits over the years which is not easy to do, and we've managed to back it up," Mr Solomon said.

At times the simplest ideas work best, such as Moose's popular Trash Pack. "It's about a gang who live in the garbage and it's about all things gross. That's definitely our biggest hit at the moment, that's been one of the most successful products we've ever launched. Kids love gross, filthy things."

So successful, in fact, that the company has for the first time licensed one of its brands for others to use, including a Trash Pack-themed Nintendo DS game in stores this Christmas.

Speed to market is the key to Moose's success, Mr Solomon said, with its relatively small size allowing it to quickly respond to new trends. "If you see something you like, you don't have too many layers or politics to get through to be able to move quickly on it and bring it to market," he said.

"We weren't in craft and activity toys several years ago, and we've now built ourselves to be one of the leading craft activity toy companies around the world."