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syoT Toys

 



 

 

 

 

syoT Toys - metal pedal cars, trikes, planes and trains with a traditional look and built to last.

 

www.syot.com

 

Here Digger talks to Brian at syoT Toys. Brian's engineering background and love of classic cars prompted him to set-up syoT and they are now established as the leader in the field in Europe.

For those of us who remember the joy of playing with their pedal cars when we were young, these cars are a great gift for our children and grandchildren so they can share the same experience. 

 

A range of pedal cars and planes, 
including the original Comet (top left)

 


 

Digger: Hello Brian. What is your background and the background to Syot?

Brian: I'm actually a power generation engineer. I was born and educated in the UK and then graduated and emigrated to Australia. In my travels I've lived in eight different countries around the world.

Digger: Wow! On different continents?

Brian: Yes, and I travelled through 54 countries in my travels - I've seen a lot. I used to work for two years and then take a year off.

Digger: And is Britain still one of the best places to live?

Brian: Yes, it is. It's not bad. Even with the recession and its ups and downs.

Digger: Everything we can moan about here.

Brian: Yes.

Digger: But then that's one of the things with this country - we are allowed to moan.

Brian: Yes, that's absolutely right. If you moan in China or elsewhere, you end up in trouble. Nowhere's perfect, but Britain's got a lot of history and culture and you're parked right next to a continent with 800 million consumers. It's quite a big  trading block and more influential than The States, although people don't realise it. So, I did that and on my last years of travelling in my mid-thirties I was heading down to central America for a year. So I went to Spain for a couple of months to brush up on my Spanish and ended-up teaching people English in the middle of nowhere. I never got to central America - I stayed in Spain for longer and one of the students there ended-up being my wife! Then we came back to the UK and, remember, I wasn't a resident, I was an Australian. That was simply because I had a house here and my parents were still alive. We came over here for a year to teach my wife English and ended-up staying. The problem was, they weren't building any power stations fifteen or twenty years ago and so I thought about an engineering company. But it was quite hard to export then due to the high value of the pound. I had a lot of contacts in the far-east, because I spent a lot of time selling in China and Asia, so I went out there looking at products they were selling in the USA and Japan and that they weren't selling in Europe. I looked at a number of ideas and two or three ideas took off - the biggest one has been the retro metal pedal cars.

Digger: Who knew? As the Americans say.

Brian: The Americans were the ones who made them in the forties and fifties when we were strapped after the war with no money and no resources.

Digger: I would have assumed they would have been German with their tin toy pedigree and history.

Brian: No, there was nothing coming out of Germany or Europe. Certainly in their heyday in the thirties, forties and fifties. Which is why metal pedal cars and the old-fashioned ones particularly are heavily skewed towards the American designs and most of them were made up in the industrial belt around the Detroit area.

Digger: These posh car manufacturers today have the Dad's car for £70,000 and the miniature replica kid's car for £4,000 don't they in their showrooms? They look great.

Brian: Yes. They're generally hand-made because they don't sell in large quantities.

Digger: What a surprise!

Brian: They generally sell to the mega-rich and you're only talking handfuls, so they're all custom-built really.

Digger: That's a fascinating background to the business Brian and you've clearly got that love of Spain as well?

Brian: Yes, we've got a couple of children who love riding in the family and my eldest is fourteen and has been there 56 times now. We spend a lot of our time going backwards and forwards. Fortunately, we have a ranch out in the middle of nowhere with 2,000 acres so we go down there quite a lot.

Digger: Wonderful.

Brian: We did open an office in southern Spain and a warehouse thinking we were going to distribute to southern Europe but it didn't work financially because the distribution costs out of Spain were too expensive. And certainly now the recession's hit southern Europe's been hit quite hard so we had to shut it down.

Digger: I heard a joke the other day - a Greek, a Spaniard and an Irishman go into a bar and the German pays.

Brian: (Laughs) Yes, that will be about right.

Digger: Why do children today, with all the technology they are bombarded with, still appreciate classic toys?

Brian: I think because they last. A lot of the toys made today are almost disposable - you get them Christmas Day and by New Year's Eve they're in the rubbish bin.

Digger: What sort of stuff did you get when you were a kid?

Brian: Of course, I had an old-fashioned pedal car.

Digger: Good for you, just like me.

Brian: My father built it and we played with it for donkey's years.

Digger: Did you have a go-kart as well?

Brian: Yes and the three-wheeler, the old-fashioned trikes, so they're the things I remember out of all the toys. Scalextrics, the metal pedal cars and the trike are the ones that stand out. And maybe also, because I'm an engineer, the Meccano sets.

Digger: It's French now, Meccano. I can't believe it.

Brian: I know.

Digger: You have many impressive household name clients in the world of retail. How have you achieved this and what are your bestsellers?

Brian: I think the way we started was to look at the old designs of the 1940s and 1950s, but just taking them wouldn't have been appropriate because the old designs wouldn't meet the new European safety standards. Then we re-made the tooling, starting out with the classic designs to start into the market so people could see these toys as they had in years gone by. And from that starting point we developed newer ranges and models and designs for different markets. What we noticed was that the larger guys who retail and sell like the Argos's and WH Smiths of this world are not trying to appeal to an upmarket client with a better product - they're looking for the cheapest plastic pedal cars that they can obtain from a factory in China. Because they're looking to sell thousands and thousands of units cheaply whereas our products are more upmarket and more expensive because they're made in metal and not plastic.

Digger: They're not hugely expensive though are they Brian?

Brian: Compared to an equivalent-sized plastic vehicle, yes they are. They're typically twice the price - the cost for making an injection mould for a pedal car is probably $10,000 and to make one for a metal one is $50,000 so the manufacturing costs are substantially higher and also that means that the production runs are lower. So therefore more expensive and thus you tend to target the top 10% of the market.

 

 

 

 

Digger: But because you're Internet-based then that's the top 10% of the market in the world.

Brian: Yes, we have now become the company with the biggest range of metal pedal cars in Europe just by specialising in our market and we're too small for the big guys to muscle-in and bother us.

Digger: Is there much 'coals to Newcastle?' Are you selling much to the USA?

Brian: The US market is the only market we don't sell in. The reason is that that cost of insurance goes up about ten-fold if we sell into the US market because of the way they have a litigation-based culture and they're afraid of anything which could cause an accident.

Digger: Health and safety?

Brian: Yes, so we decided to sell to almost every other country in the world apart from the US and it works well. There are American companies who sell to the US market because they have to have that insurance and we have an agreement where we sell elsewhere and they don't sell into our markets. We swap contacts and leads and so on.

Digger: That's good.

Brian: We're not a large company and it would be quite hard to sell into the world's second biggest consumer market after Europe.

Digger: Yes, marketing and promotion would be quite expensive.

Brian: Yes, so we decided the promotion and insurance costs are astronomical - it's not just like we were going to go in and sell just a few units. You have to do it big time or not at all and we'd much rather concentrate our sales effort on the UK and Europe.

Digger: What are you favourite designs?

Brian: My favourite is the one we started with, which was the Comet pedal car, originally made in 1954 by The Murray Comapny. It's got a Buick round-nosed front end on it and it's very typical of one-piece pedal cars. Very sturdy design...

Digger: Space age in its way?

Brian: Yes, and because it has the Buick design round front on it then it's very classic fifties American design and something that's never going to age. Like the classic Chevy '55, which we also make. It's set in stone and you don't need to update or modify it, it's a classic in its own right. It's still one of the strongest selling ranges we have.

Digger: It's a big shame that so much of our motor industry here has now gone - we used to lead the world.

Brian: It is a shame - I think it goes back to the seventies when the government nationalised the whole of the motor industry under British Leyland and that was the death knell for a whole number of classic British names.

Digger: What are your key strengths at syoT and what makes you stand out?

Brian: Being different, I think, makes us stand out. We don't sell the cheap and cheerful plastic rubbish. We specialise in the top 10% of the market and focus on quality and particularly on the retro pedal cars as well as the modern pedal cars. And also having the biggest range - there are other companies that sell pedal cars but they tend just to buy the cheapest single design out of the Chinese factory and don't do their own designs and don't develop their own models. I think also we went into licensing of the products as well, so we hold the license for the Thomas the Tank Engine metal pedal train and the Postman Pat metal pedal car.

Digger: Do you do a lot of the trade shows?

Brian: We tend to concentrate on the European trade shows, so the UK and the Nuremburg one in Germany which is the biggest in the world which we do every year. That would be fun if it wasn't minus 20 degrees in the Bavarian mountains in February!

Digger: (Both laugh) What sorts of comments and feedback do you get from clients?

Brian: It ranges actually and we do get comments saying "Beautiful but expensive." And then a lot of customers say they're economically-priced. There's also some who are used to the cheap stuff out of China.

Digger: There is a phrase that some people 'know the price of everything and the value of nothing'.

Brian: Yes. I think that more often it's the parents or the grandparents buying it and they remember not only the one they had when they were children or their children were young, but they also remember how long they lasted compared to modern toys. People tend to buy them and not throw them away - they put them in the loft for the next child or even in the loft for their children's children.

Digger: My Auntie Rhona used to go to a really expensive clothes store in London and pay four or five times as much as others to buy her coats and people would say she was mad spending that much on a hand-made coat. But her coats would last for donkey's years while other people would get through several coats in the same time. 

Brian: Yes, it's the same thing.

Digger: Why do you think retro and vintage is still so popular and seems to be increasingly so?

Brian: I think it's just a reaction to the disposable society that we live in and a lot of people, particularly as the wealth in the western countries has increased, are not willing to buy something which they know they're going to put in a bin a few months later. They're looking for longevity in products and those that are environmentally-friendly and have a smaller carbon footprint.  Even more importantly those products that in the long-term will be more economical. What's the point of buying a plastic product half the price if you know you're going to be throwing it away in a year or two? You can buy a metal product that's going to literally last for generations. I think that's one of the strongest selling points - even if Johnny knocks it or bumps it or dents it then with a bit of a repaint it can last for generations.

Digger: So you also have strong green credentials.

Brian: Yes.

Digger: What about the future Brian?

Brian: We are planning on doing some specialist products - maybe custom products or hand-made products, bespoke work.

Digger: I suppose there's quite a few options there? If it catches on then people will see that someone else is doing it and they'll want to do it as well.

Brian: Yes. It's not a huge market where we will be selling in the tens of thousands but more likely in the hundreds. But that's also quite nice where your business is personal and you know your clients quite well. It's a nice business to run.

Digger: Thanks for letting us know all about it Brian.

Brian: Thank you David.

 

 

 

A range of pedal cars and planes, 
including the Noddy model (top right)


 

 

 


 

www.syot.com

syoT Limited - Europeís
 largest supplier of
 Metal Pedal Cars

syoT Limited 

syoT Limited is Europeís largest supplier of Metal Pedal Cars. syoT also supply a large range of Metal Pedal Trikes, Trains & Planes as well as Electric Ride-On Cars, Scoot Along Cars and a large range of high quality menís Motoring Gifts.

syoT Limited manufacture in the UK and Far East, and supply retail customers across Europe and around the world.

Started by an Engineer and Classic Car Enthusiast 12 years ago it has steadily grown into a company with a reputation for high quality and first class customer service.

Listed among its customers are the giants of retail like ToysRus, Costco, Auchan, Renault, Hamleys, Amazon, Play etc right down to the small single shop independent retailers.

Offering a 'Direct Dispatch' / 'Drop Shipping' service across Europe and the possibility to mix products in FOB containers for delivery across the world, syoT can offer you a flexible and economical way to sell these classic retro products. Contact us now for a catalogue and trade price list. 

The Old Village Cobblers Shop
Warbrook Lane
Eversley
Hook
Hampshire
RG27 0QH
England, U.K.

Tel:  +44 118 973 6688
Fax: +44 118 973 6622
Email: Toys@syoT.com
www:
syoT Limited 

 

 

 

 

 


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