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New Chocolate Crane Widens Coastal Amusements' Offerings

Posted On: 8/25/2001

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"Coastal's Chocolate Crane" measures 77 ins. H. x 40 ins. W. x 33 ins. D. and is available in refrigerated (shown here) and non-refrigerated models. Its deep well holds a high capacity of large and small chocolate bars. It ships with a factory setting of three plays for 50¢.

New Chocolate Crane Widens Coastal Amusements' Offerings

LAKEWOOD, NJ - Coastal Amusements Inc. is considered one of most financially stable amusement machine manufacturers in today's uncertain coin-op marketplace. In fact, the company's revenue performance during its first quarter of fiscal 2001 ended May 1 was its best financial quarter in recent years.

Coastal attributes its recent success to acquisitions that have firmly positioned the company in two categories beyond its core redemption products for arcades and family entertainment centers. In 1997, the company's purchase of American Hi-Striker, a Las Vegas-based factory that built classic carnival strength testers, launched Coastal's offensive into midway attractions for amusement parks. In early 1999, Coastal entered the touchscreen video game market through the acquisition of Tennessee-based Micro Manufacturing. Both additions enabled Coastal to compete effectively in the theme park and coin-op street sectors.

Today, the New Jersey games factory is continuing to broaden its product range with the new "Coastal Chocolate Crane," a product Coastal's Sal Mirando describes as the ideal crossover piece for both arcade and street operations. The new crane is imported from Asia and shopped at the company's factory here, where Coastal graphics and logos are added to customize each unit.

"Coastal's Chocolate Crane" combines the play features of a crane and a pusher: players retrieve chocolate bars using a claw and deposit them on a pusher table, where the bars accumulate until they are pushed off the ledge and awarded. Refrigerated and non-refrigerated, or "dry," models are available.

Coastal is entering the competitive crane market with a specialized chocolate/pusher product, which has been available through other U.S. crane manufacturers for the past two years, for two main reasons, Mirando told V/T. First, the chocolate crane has established itself as a long-term consistent earner in arcade and street environments. Secondly, the company is able to offer a reliable machine design at a base price of $2,995 to the operator; refrigerated models, which are recommended by Coastal, cost a little more.

"The crane is a new business for some operators," Mirando said, "and it's difficult convincing them to try it. Just as Coastal has reinvested in its business to keep growing, operators need to do the same by exploring new equipment types."

For Coastal, Mirando noted, the decision to market a crane line makes sense. "There's less business in the FEC sector than there was several years ago," he said. "And if there's less business in one area, it makes sense to expand into new segments."

Operators should apply the same reasoning to their businesses, emphasized Mirando, who added that today's street operations have been reduced to music, pool, and video games limited to countertops and Incredible Technologies' "Golden Tee" games.

A chocolate/pusher crane, he pointed out, is easier to operate than the standard plush crane. "Chocolate is chocolate," he said. "There's no 'seasonality"just well known candy bar brands from Hershey and Nestlé, which are popular among children and adults."

Mirando also credits St. Louis-based product supplier S&B Candy & Toy Co., which supplies specialized mixes for chocolate cranes and ships them in insulated cartons.

Coastal has been testing the new chocolate crane for past the six months, during which time several enhancements have been made for the American market. Modifications addressed motor and driver components, which have been improved to handle robust street operations. And the unit is backed by Coastal's parts and service departments.

Mirando did not say whether the company would be introducing other types of crane or amusement vending equipment. "Our strategy," he said, "is to begin with a chocolate/pusher model, evaluate the crane business and introduce other crane types if the market permits."

Coastal will exhibit "Coastal's Chocolate Crane" during the upcoming AMOA International Expo in Las Vegas. The company also is offering several financing options through Hamilton National Leasing Corp.

Coastal can be reached at (732) 905-6662; http://www.coastalamusements.com.