MoshiMonsters launches first toy range, aims at $22 billion US market

Tomorrow MoshiMonsters, the educational social game aimed at young children, is moving heavily into licensing its brand. It will also launch its first toy range at the London Toy Show, in conjunction with Master Toy partner, Vivid. MoshiMonsters now has over 30 million users worldwide – creating a tonne of kids who would really like toys based on the characters. The line is being stocked by all major UK retailers (Tesco, Sainsburys, Toys R US, Argos, The Entertainer etc) and an international roll out to the US is coming soon. This is a new direction for brands aimed at kids. In the old world toys might give rise to a game, usually lame. These days the games are creating the real-world toys, and Angry Birds is just another game moving in this direction. It’s no surprise that Moshi founder Michael Acton Smith and Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio / Angry Birds realised they have a lot in common after meeting at this week’s DLD in Munich:

Toys are big business, worth $22 billion annually in the US but it is one of the few major industries that hasn’t been massively disrupted by the web – yet. Now it appears this is starting to happen. Historically, to launch a successful toy range you needed a major TV show or Film to generate attention, or if you were a lone inventor, you’d sell your idea to one of the giants like Mattel or Hasbro. But now content is giving rise to new brands which can be launched by anyone and if the idea resonates with kids, a major licensing program can be spun off. The flip side is that licensees are keen to get involved because the risk is removed as the IP has proved itself by creating an a real fanbase.

The Spring/Summer range, which hit UK shelves last week and includes Talking Monsters, soft toys, collectable figures and backpacks. The initial range focuses on the six key Monster characters, Poppet, Katsuma, Diavlo, Zommer, Furi and Luvli and the highly collectable ‘Moshlings’ (pets for the pet monsters – of which there are 48, with a few deemed ultra-rare). Many products incorporate special codes which unlock extras within the Moshi Monsters website, providing extra value to kids. The initial lines will be followed by a range for Autumn/Winter 2011 including interactive feature plush, a playset, games and further collectables.

The Moshi toys join a other products including Moshi Bandz, membership cards and gift packs, trading cards, Top Trumps, calendars, posters and books.

I caught up with Smith at DLD in Munich.