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Wow! Stuff’s pursuit of developing new and innovative products is reaping rewards in the shape of the TX Juice line of remote control products. Toy World’s Tom Roberts spoke to Richard North, the company’s president and founder, about the range and the company’s plans for it through 2014.

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eaturing eight products at launch, the TX Juice range of remote control products from Wow! Stuff aims to shake up the Remote Control category with the inclusion of technological innovations and groundbreaking features. Richard North,

Wow! Stuff’s founder and president, said: “The range centres around each of the eight products in the range having one stand-out feature activated by the handset’s ‘Juice’ button, hence the word ‘Juice’ used in the brand. TX is the technical name given to an RC handset, also known as the Transmitter. Each example of TX Juice packaging has the tagline ‘It’s all about the button’ and an arrow pointing to the juice button on the item’s handset. We wanted to create something totally unique and shake up the category, something Wow! Stuff prides itself on doing. And these new products have intellectual property, none of it is off-the-shelf, it’s all our own tooling. The patents are in, a plethora of trademarks are registered, and the packaging is signed off. It’s ready to hit the shelves.” The range’s star product, the AI Copter, is a prime example of the integration of groundbreaking technology in the remote control category. The AI Copter represents the first time that AI (artificial intelligence) has been used in a mass volume radio control helicopter, and at an attractive £39.99 price point. The user simply sets the helicopter on the ground and hits the ‘Juice’ button. The helicopter will go into Auto-Launch mode and rise to a stable height of 1m in the air and maintain that position until the pilot takes control and flies it around the room as normal. Hit the ‘Juice’ button again, and the helicopter switches to Auto- Land and, as they say, it does just that. But that’s not all,

the AI is working the whole time to stop the helicopter from crashing into the ground by using sensors on its underside to ensure it always remains at a stable height. Wow! Stuff calls this system “Anti-Crash Landing” and it means eight-year-old kids and parents can experience great play and less frustration from their flying. At the other end of the range’s price points is the £19.99 Radar Copter, which looks like a ping-pong ball with a helicopter blade inside it and a sensor on its underside. The handset for this product is about the same size as a Nintendo Wii controller with a paddle on the end. Users place the paddle under the sensor and the Radar Copter flies up and away from them approximately four feet into the air. It eventually descends and the motion is repeated to make it fly up again. The product ships with two paddles so that two players can enjoy trying to keep the hi-tech pingpong ball in the air. It’s interesting to note that the TX Juice Radar Copter and the Stunt Buggy Xtreme, another entry in the range, actually began shipping ahead of schedule in the UK this November, and early sales have been very strong indeed; it’s now sold out in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. Richard said: “They have given us a very good early read on how the range will do, and their performance also gives an edge for 2014 selection periods. Being able to demonstrate that the early launches have succeeded gives the range some demonstrable history that retailers can appreciate. The price points are very attractive too with the range including RRPs of £19.99, £24.99, £34.99 and £39.99. All items have their own promotional videos too, which can be shown in-store on video screens and point-of-sale materials we provide.” Richard added that it’s the AI that sets these new

products apart from others. He explained: “If you look back at the history of radio control helicopters, the category exploded onto the scene about nine years ago when small and, for the first time, affordable models came out. They were two channel, could take off and haphazardly fly about, but had little directional control. The next step came several years later with the use of internal gyroscopes to keep the helicopters stable while flying; add three channels and you had a perfect directional flyer. But there’s been little new technological development in this sector for three years, until now. The next step is the integration of artificial intelligence, and that’s what the TX Juice range

is all about. The integration of AI into RC products is Wow! Stuff working with a USA inventor patent that’s now assigned to us. We will protect it as we have had to our other patents.” Raising the subject of patent protection takes us onto a subject very close to Wow! Stuff’s heart. Richard explained his company’s interest in guarding their products by way of the lessons learned from Air Swimmers. He said: “We were working with an American inventor trying to create something wholly unique in RC, an item that would work as a volume seller. Air Swimmers was the result, and working with it really opened our eyes to the RC category. In our first year we shipped 550,000 pieces of Air Swimmers, and we began setting about creating three-year plans for growth. But by year three, sales had dropped to just 30,000. We were puzzled with the huge drop, it wasn’t a bad product because shops and malls seemed to be full of them, until we realised that manufacturers in China had copied the products. And we’re talking carbon copies. We estimated 2,000,000 pieces available globally, and yet only a tiny percentage of those were ours. On some of the examples we could see shadows and lines where they’d obviously laser scanned the images off of our own products to create a replica. The patented undercarriage operating system was also completely copied. We decided that as a creator and inventor we had to be seen to protect our products, so we began court proceedings, and have been very successful in these legal disputes. “It’s a sad fact that our industry is sometimes regarded

as an ‘easy’ target and that unless you protect each and every item you will most often end up as a victim of the illegal acts of others. The biggest shock we continually encounter is the delay tactics of companies who have internal legal teams designed to delay or hinder proceedings for as long as possible. This allows them time to sell out of the illegal products. We are used to this now and have a great team at Geldards law firm, which costs us but are 100% successful. The industry has also helped us enormously. There is a deep respect for the inventor community and many of our peers sent us the details of the illegal copies very early on. So thank you to them for doing so. We’re hoping that we’re now known for protecting our intellectual properties, and that opportunists will think twice before trying to copy what we are doing.”

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