by Blip Toys | 23 Jun 2022
Biographies and Interviews
BLIP TOYS’ BILL NICHOLS AND PETER CMIEL
THOUGHTFUL NEW TAKE ON CLASSIC PLAY CONCEPTS
With over two decades in the toy industry, Blip Toys is still creatively cranking out well-thought-out, creative interpretations of proven play patterns - kicking them up, just a notch. Led by co-owners Bill Nichols and Peter Cmiel, Blip Toys is known as fast-reacting, trend-driven creators of high-volume toy action figures, activity toys, collectibles and outdoor toy concepts that also boast a TOTY win for their mega hit Squinkies.
So what’s new for 2022? Two radically new interpretations of classic brands - Zip Linx and GIGABOTS ENERGY CORES.
Nichols, who had extensive toy experience in sales, and Cmiel, an established toy inventor, joined forces to create the company in 2000. The pair began by developing unique IP concepts for a variety of toy companies and retailers. Using Nichols' connections and Cmiel’s track record developing and licensing dozens successful brands, the two thought it was time to begin creating and manufacturing their own product lines in the novelty and seasonal categories. The transition was seamless… and the innovation had only just begun.
In 2010 the Company launched Squinkies, at the time a never-before-seen take on collectibles. These miniature, squishy figures each had their own names and personalities. Beyond Blip’s original concepts for the line, they were even able to secure several high-profile licenses for Squinkies including Barbie, Disney, Hello Kitty, Hot Wheels and WWE.
“We recognized the trend of gumball machine, capsule collectible toys – but there wasn’t a mass market solution. So we decided to make a mass market toy that people immediately knew what it was. The rest is history,” says Cmiel.
Squnkies was a global phenomenon. They quickly became one of the hottest selling collectibles for kids, sky-rocketing to the top of the list of several “Most-Wanted” lists with retailers everywhere selling out almost as soon as their shipments came in. “Squinkies Fever” had officially stuck! Not surprisingly, the line netted Blip Toys their first TOTY in 2011 in the “Girl Toy of the Year” category.
Over the next years, while the Squinkies brand expanded, Blip continued developing products using their thoughtful approach. Hit products included Palace Pets, ZOOM-O, and a Sanrio Hello Kitty doll, plus two new lines of influencer-inspired brands from YouTube stars Ninja Kidz and Tic Tac Toy. Blip Toys was among the first toy companies to recognize the importance of mega social influencers and their celebrity power with kids and turned that into two hugely successful proprietary toy lines.
Fast forward to 2022 and early rumblings about exciting new Blip Toys lines launching this summer. Both Zip Linx and GIGABOTS ENERGY CORES are inspired by classic play patterns, but have a new, thoughtful twist.
Zip Linx are high-flying, chain-reaction activity sets that deliver a thrilling, eye-popping payoff! Think today’s version of Dominos and the action that follows. The sets are simple to use, making it easy for anyone to create that now all-important Instagram or TikTok-ready moment. “The different sets allow users to create unique, colorful ‘Domino-inspired’ designs that ultimately launch the Linx three-feet into the air! These sets let today’s social-driven kids create their own unique content,” said Nichols.
This year, Blip Toys is also setting its sights on the Action Figure category. Cmiel and Nichols felt the traditional toy silo was ripe for innovation and newness.
During product development they considered several elements: Kids love collectibles and unboxing, but the packaging of collectibles always gets thrown away. And, boys, in particular, love to put things together and also take them apart. Of course with any action figure toy, there’s the “battle” play pattern too. They ultimately made the decision to incorporate the product packaging INTO the action figure, combined with kids being able to incorporate an unboxing with the assembling of an action figure. Plus, using the packaging capsule resulted in a large action figure, over twice the size of competitors, making them an incredible value!
After a few rough passes, GIGABOTS ENERGY CORES were born, which is a natural development of all these different push points for kids.
This new line of 13” fully-articulated action figures lets kids build, transform and battle with the new figures - and then re-build and battle over and over again. Each figure starts as a plastic capsule, which contains alI the pieces needed to assemble the GIGABOT. At the center of the GIGABOTS line is the packaging which literally transforms into the core of the figure! The real point of difference is that this plastic capsule itself becomes part of the build for the ultimate unboxing experience. It’s the perfect action figure for the times as it combines sustainability, unboxing potential and traditional action figure play. In 2022, Blip Toys will launch six GIGABOTS with an expansion already planned for next year and international distribution.
Both Nichols and Cmiel decided that to be successful and make the best possible playthings, they had to add extensive, hands-on play testing with kids into their arsenal in order to observe how kids play with their new lines – what they like, what they don’t like, and how they play with the product from start to finish, including the packaging. The result: fun and innovative toys that are on trend and for parents’ wallets and have a good price value proposition.
Cmiel says, “we’re always looking at opportunities from a ‘real estate’ perspective and finding the holes of what retailers are looking for and feedback that we’re getting.”
Blip Toys is excited about the future as they continue to attack classic play patterns with a purpose, while staying true to themselves and aligned with kids’ ever-changing interests and industry trends. Both new brands are launching this month.