5 Jan 2007
Riding High(HKTDC Toys & Games , Vol 01,2007)
Golden Wheel Die Casting Fty Ltd
|Golden Wheel Die Casting Fty Ltd exports US$2m worth of goods a month from its factories in Guangzhou and Shanghai|
Golden Wheel Die Casting Fty Ltd started in 1989, producing a series of small, die-cast toys. From this humble beginning, the company has perfected its understanding of the market and production techniques, and has made a name for itself as a top manufacturer of authentic collectibles.
Also among today's successful products are stamped steel pedal cars, mini pedal cars and planes, mini die-cast automobiles, planes, service stations, gas pumps, vans, tractor-trailers, vintage trucks, military vehicles such as tanks and much more.
The company has also invested in brand name licenses from famous names such as Pepsi-Cola, 7-Up, Mountain Dew, Ford, FedEx, Mercedes Benz and MAN and, more recently, Shell.
"We learned a lot from one of our earliest products, which was a Matchbox series of die-cast cars that became big sellers in their day," says CEO Eddie Wong. "From that experience we realised that licensed products offered us a good road to progress, and that we could use the success in that line to open up other interesting market sectors."
Pepsi-Cola was the first licensed product taken onboard by Golden Wheel. "I believe we were first in the market to get a Pepsi license," says Wong, "and we have held one for some 16 years now."
Fired up and keen to move ahead, Golden Wheel soon acquired more licenses. "I think the Ford license was next," Wong recalls, "followed by 7-Up and Mountain Dew."
The collector market is highly specialised. "Collectors only want branded items," Wong elucidates. "A Pepsi-Cola collector, for example, doesn't buy anything that does not bear the Pepsi brand. So having the license trade doubled our business."
He also reveals that Golden Wheel is in the process of obtaining a license for Mercedes Benz worldwide. "This is something nobody has in the market, anywhere in the world," he claims.
Golden Wheel was also able to penetrate the retail segment as well as sell direct to the logo owners. "Apart from premium products, we found we could market and sell logo-bearing toys to children all over the world," Wong says.
"We also took note of the considerable difference between putting a toy car on the market with a logo that simply read, say, "Police", versus one bearing a well-known brand name such as 7-Up," Wong adds.
To reproduce cars true to the original also entails a lot of work. "The R&D team has to assemble detailed information including drawings and photographs taken from all angles," Wong says. "We work to various scales according to the design, and the final version might be scaled down 43 or 24 or 18 times. It all depends on what worked with the original and the market needs. The main thing is to ensure accuracy, proportion and full detail."
Each model also requires a lot of investment. "It costs about US$200,000 to make the tooling for any one model of car," says Wong, "which is why we decided to move into larger, more detailed pedal cars that could be driven by children."
There is also a range of plastic cars. "We are not afraid to change our production line from one model or material to another," states Wong. "So besides regular cars we are also making 'crazy cars', and even 'hip-hop' roadsters with 'hip-hop' wheels and music and other appropriate sounds - we are even selling an accompanying CD with 10 songs."
While the idea of the sit-and-pedal car may seem outdated by modern standards, Wong says that Golden Wheel has broken that attitude with its range of large-size replicas.
"Right now, I would say that Golden Wheel is number one in the world for the 'ride-on' car concept," he declares. "I mean, really the biggest in the world. In small, die-cast manufacturing we might rank about number 30, because there are a lot of firms in that line. But in terms of the 'ride-on' variety, we're tops."
Golden Wheel exports some US$2m worth of toys a month, from its factories in Guangzhou and Shanghai on the Chinese mainland. The total production space is 300,000 square feet and the total workforce in excess of 2,000 workers.
The company handles the entire R&D, designing, tooling, manufacturing and marketing functions in-house. "We are a substantially different organisation from the original," says Wong with pride. "Today, we supply the market with quality goods for children and connoisseurs."
Indeed, Golden Wheel appears to have the energy to drive ahead for decades to come.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Golden Wheel Die Casting Fty Ltd