10 July 2007
Play To Learn(HKTDC Toys & Games , Vol 02,2007)
|Eastcolight (HK) Ltd builds on the synergy of joy and learning with interesting, creative and innovative toys|
If it's a hotel for insects or a talking microscope, even an answering pen, you will find these and more whimsical, even mind-blowing, items among the numerous creative and innovative toys available from Eastcolight (HK) Ltd.
However, according to vice president and general manager Salley Sze, there is more to these playthings than meets the eye. "All of our products have educational features and functions," she claims. "Instead of children simply spending time playing, our toys also teach them something. This is our mission statement, and why we focus on educational toys."
The company was set up by Sze and her husband in 1991. "Initially, we made car racing sets. But competition was keen, aggravated by falling margins and rising raw material costs," she recalls. "Then, a European customer asked if we had microscopes. We thought that was a good idea because it was an educational item that not many people were making."
That marked the start of the company's engagement with optical toys, subsequently giving rise to the Micro-Science line of microscopes and Tele-Science series of telescopes. "Both brand names are well-known," Sze says. "We sell more than 500,000 sets per type annually, and they range from low-power children-pleasers to high-power professional versions."
Eastcolight's fast-expanding product portfolio also features eight other series. "The Master of Spy range is very hot, so is the Spring & Summer line that carries the colours of each season - including white, green and orange," Sze adds.
Among the latest of the Spring & Summer items is the Modern Insect Hotel set, which is a transparent box with feeding compartments, a microscope and a multicoloured LED lighting system. The set can be used together with an insect catcher available in the same series.
"Children can lodge different insects in the hotel and observe them with the flexible microscope and lights," Sze explains. "Launched earlier this year, this toy can help build a child's interest in biology. The response has been very good, and one British customer said he really found the name, Insect Hotel, amazing."
Also in the series is the 3D Electronic Listening Bug Viewer, which allows children to observe insects and also listen to the sounds they make. An Eco-Aquarium features a hand-pumped oxygen supply, water-filtering system, press-button food dispenser and a magnifying glass on both sides to enhance fish viewing. "No electricity is required for this eco-friendly playset," Sze remarks.
The Pre-Science range includes Max the Talking Microscope, which has a built-in speaker allowing the user to listen to fascinating facts about each slide, while the Smart Answering Pen with Magnifier set emits sounds and multicoloured blinking lights when the correct answer to a multiple-choice question is picked. Meanwhile, the Master of Spy series features a range of spy toys to sharpen children's observation skills.
"We invest a lot in innovative toys," Sze says. "We have already developed more than 200 items and continue to add about 30 new products each year." She says that the firm manufactures 1.5-2 million toy sets annually, using various materials such as plastic, zinc alloy and glass sourced mostly from Australia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Eastcolight exports globally, mainly to Europe, the Americas, Australia and Japan. "We sell to more than 90 countries," Sze says, pointing out that the text on the company's packaging boxes comes in seven languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese.
"Now we are looking to expand our sales in Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the Chinese mainland," Sze informs. "These markets have potential, and we already have sales counters at high-end department stores on the mainland. Other customers include distributors, importers, mail-order companies and retailers like toy chains, supermarket chains and department stores."
Product design and manufacturing processes, including tooling, injection, colour spraying, pad-printing and assembling are done at the firm's 2,000-worker, 600,000-square-foot factory in Zhongshan on the Chinese mainland.
"The factory has attained ISO 9001 certification and the ICTI Code of Business Practices," Sze says. "More facilities can be built on our land around the factory to multiply its production capacity when necessary." With a branch office in Macau and a showroom in Guangzhou, Eastcolight also maintains a deluxe headquarters suite in Hong Kong. "Many buyers visiting Hong Kong stay in nearby hotels, and this location is convenient for them," she says.
Making sure education is fun and vice versa, Eastcolight is certainly a firm with a very bright future.
TEXT BY CARRIE LEE
Eastcolight (HK) Ltd