NEW YORK — A low density polyethylene Camper Fun Playhouse is expected to be a hot item this year for Streetsboro, Ohio-based toy manufacturer Step2 Co.
The playhouse features a two-seater front cab with authentic dashboard controls, gear shifter and steering wheel with electronic sounds. The overhead sleeping area has a molded-in pillow and a working overhead light. The kitchen comes with a pretend television/VCR, stereo/compact disc player and electronic telephone with six sounds.
Step2 products are rotomolded at five U.S. plants, including its newest — a 102,500-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility in Fort Valley, Ga.
In 1997, the company expanded internationally with a 36,400-square-foot production and distribution facility in Northern Ireland.
"Many of our products are freight-intensive, so it's better for the European market to market them in the United Kingdom," said Dotti Foltz, director of marketing communications.
A licensing agreement with Mepe Co. in South Korea provides 190,000 square feet of manufacturing capability to supply the Pacific Rim.
Step2 is shooting for a double-digit increase in sales this year, Foltz said. Sixteen new products and 16 remakes with color changes were introduced at the International Toy Fair, held Feb. 11-15 in New York.
Foltz said the company works to design products to fit on scarce retail shelf space.
"These days, you have to have a checklist: How will the product fit? In what size box? Can it be knocked down by taking off the legs or folding it? Some retailers are using posters for the large items; that's better than not having them there at all."
Besides the Camper Fun Playhouse, Step2 said it has a significant number of commitments from retailers for its Happy Totes decorative, stackable storage containers available in three sizes and the battery-operated Screamin' Demon Go Cart, all rotomolded from LDPE.