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A Driving Force(HKTDC Toys & Games , Vol 01,2008)

Interactive Toys

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Childford Industries Co Ltd delivers high-quality car racing sets and other games to help children enjoy and enhance their learning opportunities

All children love toys, and Childford Industries Co Ltd not only recognises this but also tries to deliver high-quality items that help children enjoy and enhance their learning opportunities.

"We started out producing road racing sets some 20 years ago," says Marketing Director Samuel Cheng. "Mostly, they were two-car sets with individual controllers. These have now become a very traditional item."

Later, the firm went on to develop more possibilities based on the same central theme. "To be successful, and remain successful, it is absolutely imperative to be innovative," adds Mr Cheng. "We found many variations that increased the excitement and attraction."

As far as car racing sets go, Mr Cheng insists that Childford Industries is one of the very best in the business. "I truly believe that," he says. "More than 50% of production is OEM, for example, and many clients and buyers rely upon us to deliver consistent quality."

While OEM clients include own brands and licensed brands, Childford has its own name, Racer Engine. Full details can be found on the firm's website. "Building a brand name is not an easy task," Mr Cheng says. "It is a long-term goal, and it is also expensive."

Besides his involvement in marketing, Mr Cheng is one of the firm's senior designers. "This is useful, as I know the marketing concerns and design problems and needs. I find this works very well for the company," he says.

Wearing his marketing hat, Mr Cheng says the market is somewhat unsettled as many designs are easy to copy. "No one can protect their original design in practice," he laments. "On top of that, we have ongoing problems with the Chinese RMB and the weak US dollar.

"Childford Industries sells into both Europe and the US, but the major part of production goes to Europe. "That's why we are RoHS-compliant," says Mr Cheng. "We also have ICTI, which is a US requirement and a code for good business practices issued by the International Council of Toys Industries."

He says that it is increasingly important to have such certification. "If you don't, few buyers will choose you. However, if you do, and even if your costs are higher, a client will more readily accept you and be prepared to sign up for the long haul."

Content with its business in car racing sets, Childford Industries offers both complete packages and accessories. "This means that the game does not end with one purchase and one play," says Mr Cheng, "but has potential for future cooperation as new items and accessories are added and other possibilities created."

Besides a selection of different racing cars, there are various speed controllers, lap counters and track sections for extensions. "Our Super Challenger set is a rather special racing game with two cars and lots of extras," Mr Cheng says.

Apart from racing sets, Childford Industries has particular experience in creating electronic toys with exciting actions and interactive functions. Examples include the 'Cyber Football' and 'Phonic Discover' games. The former features infrared remote controls to allow multiple players to join the game, while the latter allows children to build vocabulary, letters and numbers. There are animal effects, too, besides musical accompaniments.

The firm also has singing funny sticks, one with a Christmas theme and light and sound effects. "With these Christmas Funny sticks, the child holds it in the hand like a candle and it lights up and plays a Christmas melody," explains Mr Cheng. "They are reminiscent of the sparklers of old, but without the sparks and flames."

There are similar items, too, for Halloween, including a pumpkin also with special sound and light effects. "Meanwhile, for the inventive child, we offer a create-your-own F1 Racer game, also a Mouse and Cheese game, and even a Santa on tracks complete with reindeer," Mr Cheng describes.

"Our plant is set up in an efficient manner," he adds. "For example, the moulding department is separated into sections for plastic and metal. Almost all of the moulds and dies we make are a result of our own design and investment, and are maintained and repaired by our own technicians."

It is good to know that, at Childford Industries Co Ltd, learning plus fun makes good sense and good business.

TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON

FAST FACTS

Childford Industries Co Ltd
Flats A & B, 19/F, Blk 2
Vigor Ind Bldg
49-53 Ta Chuen Ping St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2424-7045
Fax: 852-2489-9727
Email:
childford@childford.com
Web: www.childford.com

Year Established: 1982
Major Product Categories: slot cars, infrared control items, science items (detectors, bug viewers)
Brands & Certificates: Childford, Racer Engine
Minimum Order: 2,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: -
Delivery Time: 45 days
Factory Size & Location: 200,000 square feet; Huizhou
Workforce: 1,000