Restaurant giant Denny's Inc. is placing a bucket of plastic-laden Zoob toys at each of its tables to entertain fidgets, and will sell Zoob items at the front counters.
That's a lot of Zoobs. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based restaurant chain has 1,721 sites in the United States and Canada.
Suppliers to Primordial LLC were rushing a million plastic Zoob toy components into the restaurants in advance of a national promotion that began May 27. Denny reached an agreement with San Francisco-based Primordial to use the proprietary toys in its stores through next summer, with an option for an additional year.
Jatco Inc. has committed to produce some 83 million parts for Primordial this year, said Paul Appelblom, president and chief executive officer of the injection molder in Union City, Calif. Jatco molds the parts in complex, 16-cavity tools on five 200-ton Toyo presses and coordinates sonic-welding and assembly work at Tecate, Mexico, units of Formula Plastics Inc.
Flexural modulus and tensile strength were key to the success of Bayer AG's Lustran 248 ABS in that application, according to Appelblom.
A Primordial-hired materials laboratory ``did almost automotive testing'' on the resin, said Steven Jones, Jatco general manager. Lots of other ABS materials crack, and the parts would become brittle over time, he said. Also, getting a material with a correct feel was imperative.
Terms of the Denny's contract were not disclosed, but it is a multimillion-dollar deal, according to Kristin Shannon, Primordial chairman and chief executive officer since November.
``We were competing with other offerings,'' Shannon said in a telephone interview.
Denny's did research for two months in five different markets and found Primordial's toys were the most exciting to youngsters.
``Five pieces that put together our system are based on amino acids,'' Shannon said. ``With Zoob toys, you can emulate any life form. Children can create new worlds, from DNA to dinosaurs.''
Tic-Toc ``The Imagination Co.'' LLC, a Dallas marketing agency working for Denny's, developed the program.
``Zoob is a level above Lego-type'' toys, Vice President Tracy Eckert said in a telephone interview. ``Kids are not held back by linear straight lines. They can create anything.''
Entrepreneurial inventor and creative director Michael Grey and lawyer Matthew Brown formed Primordial in 1996 and serve as directors. Zoob entered the market in 1997 and was recognized as a top 10 toy that fall. The firm exhibited a ``Fabulous Golden Gate Bridge of Zoobs'' at the 1999 American International Toy Fair in New York.
Now, Zoob is going mass-market, with the Denny's contract being one big step on the road to major toy stores and other worlds.