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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 5, May 2012, Posted On: 5/15/2012

Big Bear, Brand Vending Team Up For Sqwishland Eyeprize Machine

Hank Schlesinger
bulk vending, novelty vending, Big Bear Import Brokers, Eyeprize X, Brand Vending Products, Brand Imports, Brand Sqwishland toy line, Dax Logue, Aaron Pelto, Sqwishland online virtual world, Sqwishland capsule toys, Sqwishland video game

SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- Big Bear Import Brokers Inc. and Brand Vending Products have teamed up to market a machine and product combination that leverages the strengths of each company. Brand's popular Sqwishland figurines will now be available in Big Bear's Eyeprize X novelty vender, in a new vending package.

As part of the agreement, Brand will create Sqwishland video that can run on the Eyeprize X's video monitor, as well as a modified videogame similar to the one it offers Sqwishland fans online.

Sqwishland toys were introduced in 2006, and became popular with kids as a simple standalone line of appealing squeezable miniature animal figures. In 2010, Brand launched an online videogame -- located at sqwishland.com -- starring the characters made familiar to kids by the capsuled squishy toys. Sqwishland capsules (available in 1" and 2" sizes) include a "fortune-cookie style" secret code that youngsters can use to access the game and unlock a corresponding character who inhabits the Sqwishland virtual world. The vending series is also supported by several social media initiatives.

Brand Vending, Eyeprize vending machine, Dax Logue, Aaron Pelto

PHOTO: Big Bear Eyeprize X machine adapted for the popular Brand Sqwishland toy line rolled out at the National Bulk Vendors Association's trade show. Doing the honors at the debut are Brand's Dax Logue (l.) and Big Bear Import Brokers' Aaron Pelto. Eyeprize vender features a video display that, in this model, enables Sqwishland fans to participate in one of the games familiar to them from their visits to the Sqwishland online virtual world. The machine vends a 3" capsule with three to five Sqwishland characters (the rarer the figure, the fewer) plus a code that unlocks a character in Sqwishland online.

Adding media to the point of sale seemed like the next logical step for the vendible toy line, according to Brand's Dax Logue and Big Bear's Aaron Pelto.

"After looking at the Eyeprize platform and how Aaron's company is using products like Angry Birds, I see Sqwishland as a perfect fit," Logue said. "With over 100 million pieces of the Sqwishland characters sold to date, there's now massive recognition of the brand. Holding true to how we originally launched the brand for bulk vending, we see Big Bear's clever marketing device, with the screens and the ability to distribute our type of Sqwishland characters, as a perfect fit for additional exposure for us, while drawing attention to his machine for his customers."

Eyeprize combines a videogame and a bulk capsule vender. The newest and largest version, Eyeprize X, has multiple touchscreen monitors and features LED illumination atop the machine (see VT, April). To vend through the Eyeprize, Sqwishland characters will be packed in 3" capsules, each containing three to five Sqwishland figurines (depending on the mix's character rarity). Eyeprize's winner-every-time format permits use of the larger capsule.

"Traditional bulk vending has always relied on a cardboard display in a machine, and it's been effective," Logue observed. "But there are more possibilities, like our online game, that can attract the interest of today's kids who are accustomed to visual marketing. Eyeprize takes us to another level and brings the experience of the Internet to the point-of-purchase screen."

The original Eyeprize, which can vend 3" or 4" capsules, has already proven its appeal in vending nontraditional bulk vending products like miniature plush.

"I pursued Dax on this," Pelto said. "I know Brand as one of the premier vending and toy companies in our industry; I've seen the Sqwishland brand grow, and regard it as a great fit my company's novelty vender. Not every brand under the sun is going to be something we want to work with our machine. It has to have a solid foundation of interested eyeballs and market recognition. Brand has penetration in bulk vending and retail environments. They went above and beyond, and took the entire vending industry to a new level. I saw that Sqwishland was a great fit for our machines."

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