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Oyo's reshoring means it can respond to plays on and off field

By: Frank Antosiewicz

July 15, 2014

When a major sports event, like the Major League All-Stars game is rapidly approaching, OYO Sportstoys Inc. needs to act fast. That’s why the company has moved most of its production of plastic sports action mini-figures back to the United States.

“Right now we’re getting ready for the All-Star game. The rosters were finalized [July 6] and we are able to individually personalize mini-figures for each player at the All-Star game. We’re able to get them assembled and shipped in two days so we have them all available,” said Mike Ewing, chief marketing officer at Acton, Mass.-based Oyo, in a recent phone interview.

He said the company moved most of its production this year back to the U.S. from China so that it could handle such an event. It also helps when a player is traded or changes teams. That way customers can get a favorite player in the correct team colors.

Ewing said the move was made so “we are able to respond in real-time.”

When Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper was assigned to the minor league Harrisville Senators for seven to nine games for post-surgery rehabilitation, Oyo offered a Harrisville Senators Harper figurine.

Oyo Sportstoys makes licensed plastic mini-figures with movable legs and arms that are meant to be played with and posed. The idea sprouted from a father-son visit to Fenway Park by founder Tom Skripps. They could not find a souvenir buildable toy. The company took the idea and licensed images from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. It made its debut at the 2011 World Series and has since added the National Football League, college football and the National Hockey League to its series of figures.

Oyo also has created a series of videos posted on YouTube re-creating games and plays.

“We’re very humbled and excited about the growth of our demand,” said Ewing, noting that mini-figures are sold at many different sporting goods shops and other locations.

“We’ve sold several million mini-figures so far and we will grow something like six-eight times over year,” he said.

The company employs about 120.

Ewing said Oyo moved “the vast majority” of its production back to America, but still source some parts in China. He would not elaborate on the molding operations specifically.

Ewing said that the most popular figures have been the marquee players who are performing well or from teams that are successful, like the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Chicago Black Hawks and Los Angeles Kings. The St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers have also big favorites.

He said that the company has also been gaining seed funding from investors, recently announcing that it had received $3 million in new funding and a total of $4.6 million to date. The money is to be used to create a vertically integrated ecommerce company.