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An ‘i’ for detail T

Dragon-i’s Dave Cave talks to Toy World ahead of 2014, when the company will be celebrating its fi fth anniversary. John Baulch reports.

here can be few people who have spent any length of time in the toy trade who haven’t encountered one of the industry’s true characters, Dave Cave. He first joined Makro back in 1975 and spent almost 20 years with

the company. Starting as record buyer, his tenure took in roles as toy buyer and buying controller, before he was seconded to Makro’s international team, locating to Indonesia in the early nineties to open the country’s first Makro store. A few years down the line Dave left Makro

to form his own trading company – Matheson Distribution Systems – and by 2000 he had moved full time to Hong Kong to work for Dandee, one of the leading far eastern soft toy manufacturers, as VP of sales outside USA. In 2009 Dave launched Dragon-i Toys, which has enjoyed four consecutive years of significant growth: “We’ve grown by nearly 50% every year,” Dave told me, “and we’re anticipating another excellent year in 2014, which will see the company celebrate its fifth anniversary.”

The company initially took off on the back of a selection of successful exclusive brands such as Gunslinger, Mighty Megasaur, Blobimals and the jewel in the crown, Chatimals. “We’re currently selling to 45 countries,” says Dave,

“and Chatimals has been a huge hit across the globe. We’ve sold over 3m units of the original range and it still sells well even now. Next year we’ll be re-launching Chatimals with a brand new line, Cheeky Chatimals. The new version has completely different movement and it looks really cool. The beauty of Chatimals is that it speaks every language in the world; it has a voice recognition chip which repeats whatever you say immediately.”

Another massive hit for Dragon-i in 2013 was

the Talking Tom and Friends line, which featured prominently in the memorable new Smyths TV advertising campaign which hit screens in the Autumn. “That was a nice surprise”, admits Dave, “and it’s done wonders for the brand. But there is a lot still to come from Talking Tom and Friends, I think 2014 will be the brand’s biggest year so far. We’re delighted to have secured distribution of the Talking Tom and Friends brand in several key territories, and with lots of new content being introduced by the rights owner Outfit7, we see tremendous scope for growth next year.” Another new item joining the Dragon-i range for 2014 is Toy-Fi Teddy, which allows relatives and friends to send a message to the teddy bear anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds,

using patented Bluetooth technology. Dave describes it as “like Facebook for three-year- olds. You can have as many friends as you want, and it has a parental locking system, so mum and dad have to approve anyone connecting to the bear. We’ll be launching this in our Hong Kong showroom in January, and we’re expecting a great reaction.” Toy-Fi Teddy, Cheeky Chatimals and the Talking

Tom and Friends range will all be backed by a TV advertising campaign in a number of territories next year, as well as other lines including Blobimals, Wave n Go Puppy, Talksterz and Crazy Fruit. New sales and marketing manager Alex Saussol – who recently joined the company after serving a successful internship at Hamleys – will be working with Dave to develop an extensive promotional plan designed to take the company’s key brands to even greater heights. Dragon-i will be exhibiting at Toy Fair in London (with UK distributor Zappies) and also in Nuremberg and New York, and all the new lines will be on display in Dragon-i’s Hong Kong showroom early in January. To arrange an appointment at any of these events, Dave can be reached at and Alex can be reached at

42 Toyworld

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