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Local Entrepreneurs Tackle Toy Market

GiGGo Toys to debut character products next year

GiGGo Toys is set to enchant a generation of youngsters with a fresh and smart take on children’s entertainment: that fun and acceptance can go hand-in-hand when it comes to friendship.

GiGGo , a Lake Success-based  company, started up on Jan. 3, when it acquired a business representing a toy manufacturer in China. Neither had any previous experience in the toy industry - GiGGo Toys’ CEO Diana Brobmann, of Floral Park Centre, had a career in the licensing industry at the time, and Florence Palomo, the company’s head of public relations and customer service, was employed in the research field.

“I had been working with her in the licensing area, and we felt that we had a great idea to put together...to grow this from a simple toy rep business to a toy and entertainment business,” Palomo said. “Instead of just being a representative of a factory, we are putting our name on the toys and making them ours.”

Brobmann said that her company is set to take on a competitive market, and has what it takes to come out on top.

“GiGGo Toys Inc. is a fresh approach on the toy business by incorporating an entertainment factor that evolves and grows as the child does,” she said. “Keeping businesses on Long Island is a priority for this company and we want to create jobs to help the economy.”

Palomo said the duo had an idea in their heads to capture the hearts and minds of kids everywhere- to create a special and unique way to  engage children while teaching them important life lessons at the same time. Former DC Comics artist Scott Young was enlisted to create a menagerie of characters including GiGGo the Elephant, Zora the Zebra and Chea the Cheetah. The whole point according to company CFO Marc Ferraro, is making a connection with kids today.

“We’ve got characters that appeal to the children of today. I don’t want to say they’re handicapped but they have hardships whether it’s having a birthmark or they’re being raised by a stepmom. They’re not different in today’s society,” Ferraro explained. “Nowadays, children are met with other challenges that may not have been brought to the light of day in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s. We want our characters to be relatable.” “Our characters engage the children to play together safely and to overcome any differences,” Palomon added. “Each of our characters has either a physical, social, or moral issue that they are dealing with and that the kids can relate to, and we feel that while the characters work through their issues, the children can learn to get along with each other despite their differences.”

 This adorable cast of characters, who were designed by a former artist for DC Comics, include GiGGo the Elephant, Zora the Zebra, and Cheah the Cheetah. Palomo said that it is their goal to tell the story of GiGGo the Elephant in a variety of mediamediums, such as interactive games on their website, social media, and most importantly, the toys; all of their characters will be represented by a line of safe, battery-operated ride-on toys.<< this is too far down in the story to be telling us what they actually make

The GiGGo and Friends toys are slated to be available at retail in early 2014, including presence at major chains like Toys R Us. In addition, GiGGo Toys also intends to release several licensed products, such as a limited-edition battery-powered ride-on version of the recently re-launched Indian brand motorcycle line.

Palomo noted that, due to the accessible and family-friendly nature of their characters, GiGGo the Elephant and his friends have a great chance to become break-out stars.

“We are hoping to grow this into other areas,” she said. “We feel our characters can easily grow into plush toys, toddler bedding, apparel, possibly even a TV show...with the rich story that we’ve developed for our characters, it can grow into so much.”

For now, the only place parents and children can get the back story on these characters is the company website. Short of having some kind of media presence on television or the movies, GiGGo faces an uphill climb in trying to compete with all the

other distractions families are faced with whether its video games, the Internet or numerous extracurricular activies. Regardless of the fact, Ferraro and his business partners remain undaunted.

“It would be our hope that children and parents alike would view us with the same warmth and receptiveness that a Sesame Street or Barney would get over the years,” he said.

Striking out into a new business venture can be daunting even during favorable economic times; however, even with a recession still looming, Palomo said that she and Brobmann were confident in their abilities to make a successful venture into a new field. In addition, they felt it was important to publicize the fact that GiGGo Toys is, in fact, a female-owned company.

“Here on Long Island, we feel that those attributes makes us unique,” she said. “We want to encourage other women to go out on their own, as well as encourage other businesses to remain here on Long Island.”

Palomo said GiGGo Toys intends to give back to their community by partnering with various charities, such as PAWS, an animal rescue organization.

“We feel that we have developed a great product, and a great business plan around it,” she said. “We are ready to do this.”

The remaining members of the GiGGo team is Chief Legal Officer Patrick Carroll of New Hyde Park.

—Dave Gil de Rubio contributed to this story.