1 Jan 2003
PVC And Beyond(HKTDC Toys & Games , Vol 01,2003)
PVC And Beyond
AAA Plastic Mfg Co Ltd
|Better attention to hand painting techniques and finer details make AAA Plastic Mfg Co Ltd's plastic animals look as realistic as possible|
Up until a few years ago, a glimpse into AAA Plastic Mfg Co Ltd's showroom would have more likely afforded a look at the latest Garfield, Sesame Street or Walt Disney character. Today, all that has changed.
Now, 85% of the two million toys made each month by this manufacturer of PVC animals is an own design. Precipitating the move, says general manager Bill Chan, was an increase in competition in the OEM sector. Chan says competition is so fierce that some manufacturers are producing plastic animals at a loss, simply to retain customers.
"We try to make each item as realistic as possible. Even the painting and colouring should resemble the animal we are trying to reproduce. It is what we pride ourselves on," he says.
Revealing that his father founded the business 34 years ago, he claims AAA's snake replicas are "realistic enough to make a bystander recoil".
The animals range in size from 2.5-100cms, and are hand-painted or spray-painted. A team of five designers and 12 sculptors releases 30-50 new creations per year.
Plastic animals, which a few years ago might have appeared a little rough, now feature the finest details, adding to the realism. "Our moulding and tooling processes today are far better than they were 10 years ago," says Chan.
The company places great emphasis on training, especially hand painting. "Each worker paints only one part of an animal, for example the eyes or the mouth, and some of our painters have been with us for 20-25 years," says Chan.
Up until 2001, AAA's main market was the US, accounting for 70% of sales, while Europe made up 20%. "But the focus is shifting to Europe - a trend that will continue," predicts Chan.
Although PVC toys have been the chief product line, strict requirements, set by the EU market in particular, have seen AAA move into non-PVC animals incorporating citric-based materials and PET.
"It remains to be seen how the industry develops. If there is a need, we can expand the production area in our factory for non-PVC materials," says Chan, adding that the largest issue is price and whether customers are willing to pay for non-PVC versions of their favourite animals.
Some 20,000 square feet of AAA's 500,000-square-foot, 650-worker factory on the Chinese mainland is set aside for the potential new production line. Additionally, the company is renovating some of its other moulding machines in order to comply with European regulations.
"If things take off, this new non-PVC venture could be the start of a whole new chapter for AAA," he predicts.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
AAA Plastic Mfg Co Ltd
10/F, Blk A,
Hang Cheong Bldg,
1 Wing Ming St,
Castle Peak Rd,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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