Joel Rosenzweig was looking for something that would keep 140 kids entertained at his son’s bar mitzvah. The entrepreneur had been working on an idea — an LED light-up toy that creates special light effects — and decided to take advantage of this ready-made focus group.
FyrFlyz was a hit, not only with the kids but the older guests, as well. When he saw how well-received FyrFlyz was, FyrFlyz became the starting point for i-Star Entertainment.
Rosenzweig is part of a toy industry dynasty. His father-in-law, Marty Abrams, worked on such iconic playthings as Magnadoodle, Micronauts (the precursor to transformers), and Sky Dancers, all of which were developed while Abrams was president of the Mego Corporation. The Mego Corporation was founded by Abrams father, David Abrams. This family has a knack for making toys kids like.
FyrFlyz have had a phenomenal year in 2011, winning various “best of” and “most wanted” awards throughout the year, and a Best Toy nod at the Tagie awards. Marty Abrams talks about how i-Star Entertainment got its start, why it has become such a huge success, and where they plan on taking the company from here.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
This company was a successor company to my old company, Abrams Gentile Entertainment (AGE). The licensing cycle for toy retailers did not match up for the release of FyrFlyz, so instead of pitching the idea to someone like Hasbro or Mattel, we instead opted to sell the product ourselves through our own small business.
Where did the first funding come from?
Friends and family were a huge help in financing the startup of our new company. A lot of the money came from the dispersion of AGE, making way to start up i-Star.
Who was your first customer?
Since we were assembling the toy in China, Asia was one of the first markets it would hit, however FyrFlyz had a simultaneous release in Europe and the United States. Our first European customer was Vivid imaginations, and the first to pick it up in the here in the U.S. was Toys R Us.
When did you know the company would be a success?
FireFlyz was the real launching pad for this company. The idea came about at my grandson’s bar mitzvah. [Son-in-law] Joel made these toys to hand out to everyone at the party. We handed out the toys out to everyone, and the kids immediately picked up on how to use them and everyone was dancing and playing and just having a great time. That’s when we knew we had a hit. We won best toy awards throughout 2011, including a Tagie Award for best invention of 2011.
FyrFlyz are part of a bigger line called FyrWrks. This line expands on the idea of FyrFlz, where they emulate actual fireworks without the aspect of danger; and they are reusable. We’re making ones that are like sparklers, rockets, roman candles, you name it.
Pillow Fighters is the other line that we will be putting out. These are plush, soft pillows with mean faces that talk while kids smack each other around with them. Of course, parents won’t like any sort of violent aspect, but these are just a fun new take on pillow fights, which everyone loves. They make these loud noises when they make contact, they keep track of rounds, and they even have a bell to signal the end of rounds.
These toys are actually a good metaphor for our small business. We have to scream and fight to be heard among the sea of larger toy companies.