On its way to take the world by storm, the locally-made Trexi got us hooked and is a perfect reminder on why we loved toys in the first place. We look into the success story of how more than a million of a unique local toy had taken the world by storm.

By Lin Zicheng

Let the drums roll, raise the curtains and put your hands together to welcome Trexi, the flagship toy of Singapore-based company Play Imaginative that is currently being sold in more than 30 countries.

The cutting-edge action figure has received international acclaim from various artists and designers, such as Italian maestro Simone Legno and British artist Jon Burgerman.

Available in 3 different sizes – 1.5’’, 3’’ and 10’’ – the toy’s main attraction lies in the fact that its head can be rotated to show different faces and expressions.

So how did Play Imaginative manage to come up with such a toy? In an exclusive interview with HYPE, Business Development & Marketing Director for Play Imaginative Jacky Teo tells us more about the conceptualisation of the million-dollar idea.

“In 2003, I was distributing 2 products here in Singapore. So I approached the Singapore Tourism Board to do a National Day toy for them with the 2 toy products that I was distributing here,” says Jacky.

However, he was flatly rejected because the Singapore Tourism Board wanted a locally-made toy. When asked if he had anything made in Singapore, the question sparked a few ideas in the man. Jacky hurriedly proposed his concepts to a partner freelance designer, and together, they channeled their creative energies into the form of a toy. Within a month, Trexi was born.

For the 2 to 3 months, the duo spent all their efforts marketing their then unheard of toy. Their breakthrough finally came in the form of “a lot of orders from overseas buyers”. Using these orders as evidence of the toys’ profitability, the pair convinced a financer to fund the setup of Play Imaginative, which became the sole producer and distributor of the Trexi. In 2004, the deal finally passed and Play Imaginative became the parent company of today’s hot-selling Trexi toys.

The first Trexi series appeared at a toy convention organised by SGCollect.com for local toy enthusiasts in 2005.

“The response was very good, which was partly because of our marketing efforts before launching it,” says Jacky. As if the toys needed any more affirmation, international designers began submitting their designs for the Trexi. Coca Cola, Singapore Tourism Board and even fashion brand Flesh Imp form the first batch of designs.

Assured by the toy’s massive success, Play Imaginative capitalised on the growing trend and launched their second series only 6 months later.

Today, the Trexi is estimated to have sold about 1 to 2 million pieces globally, with Singapore forming a decent 10% of the total market share. Global brands like Creative Technology, Nike and Motorola have since jumped on the bandwagon.

Gek Ling, a designer, says, “The Trexi is great because it offers the designer a lot of room for customisation. This makes designing it much more fun and interesting, because every design can be different in so many ways.”

Just recently, the company took the Trexi to the next level by producing a thumbdrive for Canon in the form of the signature Trexi toy design. The toy’s head can be pulled off to reveal a compact thumbdrive inside.

It is this level of uniqueness and creativity that has made the Trexi such a global phenomenon. Why don’t you head down to the nearest Play Imaginative store and check it out along with other adorable toys they offer.

With a wide smile on his face, Jacky adds, “We’ve had so many designs that we simply lost track.”