TD Monthly Article - Pawparazzi Pets Take Center Stage

NEW Pawparazzi Pet Sets - Cooper, Karma, Woofgang & Salsa!
Noodle Head Bets the Farm on Collectible Plush - By Pete Fernbaugh, TD Monthly Magazine

In a marketplace where plush animals aren’t typically seen as collectible items, Noodle Head Toys has made the Pawparazzi line trendy and coveted, especially with young girls. TDmonthly Magazine recently spoke with Noodle Head co-founder Chris Ryan and marketing manager Susan DeCoste about their forward-moving vision for the young, but prospering company.

In 2003, brothers Chris and Eric Ryan acted on the same impulse that has driven entrepreneurs throughout history — the desire to make things better. They noticed that mainstream toys usually left most children bored within a few hours. The Ryans wanted to create toys that would help spark a child’s imagination and have unlimited use for boundless imaginations.

From that impulse, Noodle Head Toys was formed. As with every new company, Noodle Head has gone through growing pains. Recently, the company has started to center its brand around Pawparazzi, its most popular lines of toys, and now, Noodle Head is staking its future on Pawparazzi’s continued success, both in the United States and abroad.

Pawparazzi Play!

It’s Not Just About Celebrity

The idea for Noodle Head’s Pawparazzi line came from combining our culture’s thirst for celebrity news and celebrities’ love for their pets into a line of plush celebrity animals that are accompanied by detailed background stories and glamorous accessories. However, Ryan is quick to point out that the Pawparazzi line is not about instant stardom; It’s about renown born of skills gained through hard work. “With Pawparazzi, we wanted less Paris Hilton and more Oprah Winfrey,” Ryan said. “We wanted to represent celebrities who had reached the height of their avocation after years of hard work.”

Currently, this vision is represented by such characters as Misty, “a tenacious news anchor,” among others. This fall, Noodle Head will unveil Woofgang, a “celebrity chef”; Karma, an “inspirational Yoga master”; Cooper, a “legendary surfer dude”; and Salsa, a “Latina singing sensation.” Ryan said that the new line of Pawparazzi will come in packages that can then be turned into play stages after being opened. “Not throwing away the packaging adds a fun aspect to the product,” Susan DeCoste, Noodle Head’s marketing manager, said. “With a box that can double as a stage, it increases the play value.”

Travel Buddies - Snuggles to go!

Making It About the Fans

Noodle Head is also working on ways to make Pawparazzi more interactive with its fans, including a Pawparazzi fan club that now has 1,000 members and a monthly e-newsletter. DeCoste and Ryan are also excited about the launch of Planet Pawparazzi — an upgrade of the Pawparazzi Web site. “We love connecting with our consumers,” DeCoste said. “Especially with Planet Pawparazzi, we’re looking to put in fun and educational aspects to the site.”

Both DeCoste and Ryan also emphasized that the price of the new Pawparazzi line will be 30 percent lower than previous lines, making the plush celebrity pets not only attractive to consumers, but also to retailers.

No Challenge Too Great

As with just about every other business, the state of the nation’s economy is presenting the greatest obstacle for Noodle Head. But Ryan sees hope on the horizon. “After a flat past year of sales due to an especially challenging economic climate for specialty retailers, we have seen an entirely new energy level from kids and re-sellers,” Ryan said.

Because of these economic obstacles, Noodle Head has had to postpone the debut of new Paparazzi pets several times. Ryan mentioned that new safety regulations and testing requirements have been a challenge to smaller manufacturers like Noodle Head. Noodle Head’s strongest advertisement for Pawparazzi is the “word-of-mouth buzz among kids,” Ryan said.

Also playing in Noodle Head’s favor is its growth in international distribution, especially in Korea, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Mexico.

Beyond Girls to Boys and Bloggers

Although the Pawparazzi line appeals primarily to girls, Ryan hastens to clarify that Noodle Head’s Travel Buddies line has received strong marks from parent bloggers and appeals to boys, as do their Adventure Logs and Jumbo Jelly Flyers. “Our Travel Buddies are hugely popular,” DeCoste said of the animal neck pillows. “They’re really soft, and each pillow is an animal, so it’s really appealing to kids. Our colors are vibrant.”

DeCoste said she loves interacting with parent bloggers, including Jaime Zewe, who hosts a popular blog called “Cake Mom.” Zewe tested out one of Noodle Head’s Travel Buddies. “[My daughter] adores it,” Zewe said. “This past week we went through all of her stuffed animals, and she was told she was only allowed to keep five on her bed. She chose her Travel Buddy as one of her five.”

Standing Out from the Crowd

DeCoste believes Noodle Head is unique in its multi-faceted ambitions. “There’s nobody in plush doing what we’re doing,” she said. “Even as we reduce the cost, we’re still maintaining our quality. My goal is to really work hard — especially in the Internet — and in getting plans out there that are connecting to our fans and our retailers that can help them sell our products.”

Noodle Head, Inc. is dedicated to creating toys that encourage imagination, creativity and fun. Whether it’s a passion for fashion, noodling over a project, or just “making-believe”, Noodle Head wants kids to Get Out and Play!

Contact: Chris Ryan / (866) 892-7311
Noodle Head Inc.
3808 N Sullivan Road / Bldg 2, Suite A
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
United States