We at GeekDad have a long history with Spin Master, the Canadian company behind well known toy brands like Air Hogs, Ionix, Spy Gear and Meccano, licensed products for properties including Disney Pixar’s Monsters University and Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, game apps and TV series like PAW Patrol. Going back to 2007, I was posting about flying Air Hogs with my kids, but until a few years ago I didn’t clue in to the fact that I live only a few hours from Spin Master’s headquarters. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity take advantage of this proximity, visiting Spin Master HQ, touring the facilities, demoing the latest and greatest toys and meeting the co-CEOs of the company.
Walking into the Spin Master lobby, the first thing I saw was this statue of Sully from Monsters Inc. Behind Sully, a Meccano biplane suspended over the reception desk brought back memories of my own youth, when Meccano was huge. I think it’s great the metal building sets are making a comeback.
The tour included visits to the various departments, which soon blended together in a blur of toys, packaging and people. Spin Master toys line the tops of cubicles and cover desks. A meeting room showcased a Bakugan collection my boys would have killed for a few years ago. It was all very cool and if I ever have to work in an office again, I can only hope it has the creative vibe that this one does.
Product demos were a highlight. The company’s Ionix line looks interesting, especially the How to Train Your Dragon models based on the upcoming Dreamworks sequel. Ionix figures are compatible with your favorite plastic brick building sets (the “L” word doesn’t get used much around there) and pull off a pretty impressive trick of “shapeshifting” from brick to character.
But by far my favorite toy is one that should be in stores soon. Zoomer, the robotic dog, is an impressively articulated and responsive wheeled dog. It’s available now, but has spawned a two-wheeled dinosaur version called Boomer. Here’s video shot of the prototype version of Boomer showing off his balancing prowess and interactive tricks. I think this one’s going to be a real hit.
It was fascinating to have that glimpse behind the scenes, but like all good things, the tour had to come to an end. However, The Spin Master team sent a few goodies home for my kids, including an Air Hogs Hypertrax (which I’ll likely review in some detail later) and an Air Hogs Skywinder — which was a fun flyer, but met an untimely end thanks to “twin power.”