Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Classic Toy Car for Today's Kids

Greetings friends and welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by the fun folks over at ThoughtFull Toys to talk about their MODARRI Cars Kickstarter.  Thank you for joining us today.  

David and Trevor here.  Thanks, we’re super excited about these cars.  

At first glance the MODARRI Cars look like simple plastic toy cars you can find in any toy store.  What makes these different and what advantages do these have for a parent of two such as myself?  

Good question.  These cars have real working suspension and steering.  you can drive and do tricks with them, and they fit in the kids pocket.  They are also made from high strength plastic and metal, so they are super strong.  We want kids to play with these things for a long time...these are not made to be “Throw away” like so many toys.  Last, all of the pieces pull apart and can be re-assembled with the corresponding parts of the other cars.  Kids can design their own cars, and they are just as strong and cool looking when they are done.  AND NO BATTERIES or Noises...Whew!

Ah, the days of no batteries.  When toys didn’t need to DO something like light up, make noise (ugh), or move on their own.  What made you want to make a “simple” toy car line?  
Kids get bored with toys where the play value is all spelled out for them.  These cars help kids  create their own ways to play not tell them what to play.  We thought is was time to revolutionize the toy car, so a new generation could create the way we did when we were kids...even better though.  The cars are tough too, so they will last.  I am a father of 5, and I got tired of throwing toys away.  Oh yeah, and we love playing with cars too.

How do the wheels turn is there a steering wheel inside or does tilting the chair cause the wheels to turn?  

Good question.  You simply shift the weight from side to side and it turns the car.  They are super fun...really...they work amazing.

I am reminded of the old Tonka toys of my youth (okay I’m not THAT old) that were just simple cars made well.  Unlike those metal beasts the MODARRI don’t look all that tough.  How well do you think these would handle the old elephant test?  How about the real world test of mom and dad stepping on them? (As every parent will)
I have scars on my feet from stepping on toys.  The parts are made from some metal, and the high stress parts are made from expensive high strength plastics.  I have not stepped on one, but they are pretty tough.  When we get our production cars, I can answer the stepped on question better.  But for now, we designed these things to be tough.  These are made for kids to carry around in their pockets, play in the dirt, throw off of jumps, drop, and just plain use.  Also, if a part breaks, as kids have a way of doing regardless of what tank material is being used, they can buy spare parts for cheap on our website.  NO MORE THROW AWAY TOYS!

What is the expected recommended age range for these cars?  Since they are modular the concern of having it come apart and letting my 1 year old eat part of it makes me hesitant.  

6+ for just that reason.  Any younger and we would have had to really simplify the design to a point where we would have lost the performance factor.

How hard is it to disassemble?   While my daughter probably wouldn’t torque it down too badly I’ve been known to tighten down battery cover screws too hard, to my detriment later on!  

Steel to steel tightening.  They will have to break the toy to over tighten it.  They are surprisingly simple to assemble and disassemble, and the kids should be able to do it thousands of times.

Your two car pack features the dirt and track cars, is there any way of swapping out a street one for either of these for those who don’t like the style of one or the other?   How about offering the DYI type for all of the cars or do you figure we can just prime and paint the regular versions?  I know my daughter would make a pink and purple version.

We are working with anyone who wants different combinations of cars.  Kickstarter has some rules where we can’t offer too many combos, but people just need to ask via Kickstarter messages.  The answer is always yes if it is reasonable.  We will also offer all cars in DIY eventually, but we need to keep SKU’s down a bit to start to avoid having too much inventory.  
As for the pink and purple thing, my daughter has been called “a little bit princess, a little bit rock and roll”, so she is pretty set on us creating some cars with a little more girl flair...think colorful soccer cleats not Barbie.  Here’s a sneak peek at a color pattern we are discussing for production.
Also on our website you can see renderings of the actual production colors here.

Well my daughter certain agrees with those colors! Your production schedule seems extremely aggressive, even being as experienced with toy manufacturing as you are.  What makes you so confident to set a May delivery date?  
The most difficult tools are finishing first articles this week and the rest will be in Mid march.  We have already had 5 rounds of prototypes.  These work well now and should meet the dates.  The factory is strong also, and they have a strong reputation for quality.  Certainly things can happen, but I expect we will hit the dates.

One of the key parts of any Kickstarter campaign that I like to see is a budget breakdown.  Knowing how the campaign plans to spend the money and see if they’ve budgeted for the taxes and fees involved is always reassuring.  Why didn’t you include one in your campaign?  Is the tooling costs still non-finalized or under NDA as I’ve seen some other campaigns that deal with Chinese factories mention?  

Interesting.  To be honest, we didn’t think of it.  We do however have competition out there, and believe it or not, costing is part of what we protect.  Last, there are things that have been in flux as the design has changed over the last few months.  How is that for dodging the question?  In all honesty, the numbers work out well but not perfect.  These are very complex little cars, and we didn’t want to cut corners.  At the same time we had to make the cost competitive at the stores.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

We researched crowd funding, then we met the Makey Makey guys in Santa Cruz.  Great group, and they helped us figure it out.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

We learned this from our first project.  We are doing more updates, and we have added stretch goals.  We also now are getting back to people a lot quicker, and that results in a bunch of backers.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

We are using Facebook (boosting posts etc), Twitter, a little Youtube, pinterest, and Linked in.  We also have people helping us with getting the word out.  We have gotten some great media coverage, and we are starting to get a little more now.  here are some links.  We are also on Kicktraq.

Here is a news show in Europe that did a bit on us,  Click Here and go to 58:10.
Here are some more media links:
The guys at Fancy also added us to their website.
3D Printing did this article on Modarri.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for checking us out.  We hope you will like these cars as much as we do.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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