While the late 1980s were turbulent times for most U.S. based toy companies, Tyco Toys, Inc. of Mt. Laurel, NJ has utilized a successful diversification program to enjoy eight consecutive years of record sales. Tyco's growth has enabled the company to vault into position as the United States' third largest toy company, with 1992 sales of $769-millions.
Tyco's strong performance in recent years can be traced to a concerted effort under the leadership of Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer Richard E. Grey to expand beyond the firm's traditional electric trains and racing categories via new product introductions and timely acquisitions. The company, today known around the world for products ranging from dolls and radio control cars to real working telephones and Matchbox die-cast cars, is far different than the company founded in 1926 by John Tyler. Mr. Tyler, who initially called his firm the Tyler Company before it became TyCo and finally Tyco, manufactured parts for toy trains before deciding to market toy train kits in 1930s.
By the 1960s, when Tyco had expanded into the manufacturer of HO scale electric racing sets, the company was a wholly owned subsidiary f the Sara Lee Corp., a large American corporation. In the early 1980s (while still relying solely on the sales of electric trains, trucking, and racing sets) Tyco was sold by Sara Lee to Savoy Industries, a privately held investor group. In 1984, the company embarked on a diversification program that included the introduction of Super Blocks building sets and personality telephones. By 1986, Tyco was a publicly traded U.S. company known not only for trains and racing sets, but also for Super Blocks sets and a best-selling line of Radio Control vehicles.
Dino-Riders, a line of action figures based on the worldwide popularity of dinosaurs, further diversified the company when they were introduced n 1987. Tyco's purchase of View master/Ideal Group in 1989 brought the company products such as the Viewmaster Viewer, Magna Doodle, and the Ideal Nursery line of dolls.
During 1992, Tyco continued its expansion and diversification, acquiring Illco, a maker of preschool toys, and Universal Matchbox Group, makers of the world-famous die-cast cars.
Matchbox joins other popular Tyco brands and toys, including The Incredible Crash Dummies, Baby Giggles 'N Go, Baby Get Well, Fashion Magic, Kidsongs videos, Lickin' Lizards, and Scorcher Radio Control. Illco, now called Tyco Preschool, Inc., joins Playtime among the company's subsidiaries dealing primarily on a Direct Import, Letter of Credit basis. Playtime offers a variety of popular-priced toys, many of which have popular licensed brand names such as Sprint, Spalding, Stanley, Revlon, and Tyco.
The Tyco Preschool subsidiary is the largest licensee of Sesame Street preschool toys. Tyco is also in the midst of an aggressive international expansion. Since 1991, the company has opened wholly-owned subsidiaries in counties around the world, including the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Benelux, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, and Australia. These subsidiaries are part of President Karsten Malmos. Tyco employs approximately 2,200 people worldwide and maintains manufacturing and distribution facilities in the U.S. and Hong Kong.
The company's stock is traded on the NYSE (Symbol: TTI)
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