SAN DIEGO — Bodyboard maker Toobs increased its market share in the high-performance bodyboard market but, because of a market contraction, anticipates about $500,000 less in 1997 sales vs. 1996, according to Guy Coleman, general manager and chief operating officer.
``The core consumer has more options,'' Coleman said in an interview at the Action Sports Retailer expo, held Sept. 5-7 in San Diego. ``They are getting into snowboarding, skateboarding, longboarding. They are less focused on bodyboarding [and] these boards tend to be a little more pricy.''
Coleman said Toobs had a 1996 market share of more than 24 percent and a 1997 share of about 30 percent. The firm competes with high-performance Morey, Custom X and Wave Rebel products. This segment accounts for about a 10th of the $50 million bodyboard market, according to Coleman.
Toobs was formed in 1988 and is located in Morro Bay, Calif.
Meanwhile, Morey Bodyboards is testing combinations of polypropylene and polyethylene to improve its product's ``projection,'' said Tom Sneddon, development designer with the firm in El Segundo, Calif.
``Projection is the ability to bend and return to flat as quickly as possible,'' he said. ``Bodyboards are fastest when they are flat and need to be bent in order to be steered in a tighter turn than what we design as the curve of the hull.''
Morey introduced an external mesh X-flex layer, normally used inside the board.
``The farther you can get [the material] to the surface of the board, the greater the effect on the sandwich construction of the board,'' Sneddon said. ``The board snaps back.''
Morey is offering a dual-density top skin and padded center in its launch vehicle. Boarders ``landing off waves taller than your house ... want to land nice and softly but need a considerable amount of control along the edges where they use their elbows and hands and arms to bend and steer it,'' Sneddon said.
Toy-making giant Mattel Inc. plans to sell the venerable Morey line and its other sporting goods products to a San Francisco-area investment group. Closing is expected about Oct. 1. Mattel acquired Morey in 1994.
Another bodyboard producer, BZ Pro Boards, has added polypropylene plank from Dow Chemical Co. as the core in a portion of its product line.
``Dow core is lighter, stronger and that is what we have been looking for,'' Scott Burke, senior vice president and bodyboards general manager for BZ Pro Boards, said in an interview. BZ has access to the material since the expiration of a two-year Dow exclusive supply relationship with Morey.
BZ will continue to make bodyboards with Arcel plank, which contains Arco Chemical polystyrene.
``The Arcel is great, but it has just been around for a good 10 years now,'' Burke said.
Models with Dow and Arcel cores will be priced comparably.
Packaging Industries Group Inc. of Hyannis, Mass., manufactures a cross-link deck skin for BZ.
``We went from polyethylene to F cell, which Packaging Industries calls green cell,'' Burke said. ``We couldn't find anything to work. This is a special blend that will laminate for us.''
BZ employs 50 on two shifts during the December-August season and occupies 30,000 square feet in Oceanside, Calif. BZ is the bodyboard division of Earth and Ocean Sports.