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Scooting Along(HKTDC Toys & Games , Vol 01,2006)

Astone Hong Kong Ltd

The Ocean Scooter from Astone Hong Kong Ltd is the company's first foray into the toys market
Probably better known for consumer electronics products, including MP3, AV and portable media players, speakers and computer accessories, Astone Hong Kong Ltd recently made a splash in the toys market with its newest product: a battery-powered inflatable water scooter.

"The Astone Ocean Scooter looks like a real water scooter, but you don't need a licence to drive it," explains product development and operations director Terence Wong. "It has been designed for everyone - from children aged five up to adults - it is easy to transport and to set up, and it is very safe."

The Ocean Scooter represents Astone's first foray into the toys and lifestyle sector. "The original idea came from our designer. He has a background in industrial design, and came up with the shape and the basic concept of how the water scooter would work. Our R&D team then worked on the mechanics, electronics and inflatable aspects, and it is now being manufactured," he adds.

The scooter is made from high-grade PVC and weighs 10kg (22lbs) with its 7Ah/12V battery. It travels at speeds of up to 4km/h (2.5mph) and operation lasts for approximately one hour. It has a continuous variable throttle control with automatic shut-off feature, and full waterproof circuit protection. Four colours are offered - yellow, red, blue and silver - while designer-styled bodies are also available.

"This is our first product in this market, and we intend to build on this effort," says Wong. "We see the potential to do a series of water scooters in the near future, either a second generation of the Ocean Scooter or a completely different model."

Established in 2004 by parent company Achieva Ltd, an IT corporation listed on the Singapore stock exchange, Astone represents a diversification into the consumer electronics field using the Australian-registered brand.

The company's headquarters are in Sydney, and there are offices in Singapore, the US, the UK and Chile in addition to Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong is responsible for R&D, product development, design, procurement, logistics and factory management," says Wong. "We work closely with ISO-certified production partners on the Chinese mainland, and we apply Australian quality standards to all items in production. Quality and workmanship are very important - that is the life of the brand, we cannot get this wrong."

Patents for the Ocean Scooter have been obtained for the mainland, Europe and the US. "We are focusing on a number of primary markets first, although we have received many enquiries and requests for cooperation from all around the world following our showing at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition)," Wong says.

"The water scooter is very much a seasonal product, which is why we chose to first launch it in Australia to coincide with summer in the southern hemisphere," he adds.

The launch of the product was done in real style, with a Celebrity Kids Ocean Scooter Polo match in Sydney that was featured on national television.

"We will follow up with formal launches in the European and US markets and at the Spring Edition of the Hong Kong Electronics Show. In addition, we are already developing the Middle East market through Dubai, and we will also be looking at South Africa and South America," Wong reveals.

"People know the Astone brand for its consumer electronics products, but now we are making contacts with a different category of buyers."

Despite being a young company with a new product in a different niche, Wong feels very pleased with the market reaction to the Ocean Scooter. "I'd say that is our biggest achievement in our short history - that this product is drawing so much attention - and we are developing markets faster than we expected. It augurs well for our vision of the future, because we want to be known for our innovative, user-friendly, high-quality products in the lifestyle, digital entertainment and IT markets."

It looks as though Astone is scooting along in the right direction.

Written by Ann Williams

Astone Hong Kong Ltd

Unit 17, 11/F,
Pacific Trade Centre,
2 Kai Hing Rd,
Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2305-9568
Fax: 852-2756-7568
Web: www.astone.com.hk/www.oceanscooter.net