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Kids Turn Toy News

Wild Republic Celebrates 30 Years of Fun, Naturally

Wild Republic

Twinsburg, OH - (February 9, 2010) – Wild Republic, the nature-themed toy brand of K&M International, Inc., swings into 2010 celebrating the company’s 30 year anniversary in the toy business.

Founded on G.B. Pillai’s commitment to create a brand of toys designed to educate children about the wonders of the wild through creative play, Wild Republic was born as a nature themed, high quality, detailed selection of plush, toys, and activity sets that engage and educate children about the world around them. Today, Mr. Pillai’s dedication has resulted in a global brand that is managed by the worldwide operation of K&M International, headquartered in the United States, and offices in the U.K., Denmark, Dubai, Australia, Singapore and India.

Mr. Pillai, president of K&M International, said, “Thirty years is a wonderful accomplishment. We have worked hard and have been successful in our dedication to education through playful products. This is a milestone year and while we celebrate, we continue to strive to bring more innovative products to the world for another 30 years and beyond.”

Wild Republic’s attention to detail in replicating animal species as toys resulted in a dominating presence of products in the Zoo, Museum and Aquarium gift shop market. Specialty stores in the toy and gift market also met the consumer demand, stocking assorted plush and activity kits of familiar and exotic animals under the Wild Republic brand. The attention to detail for the product was also underscored by the company’s complete commitment to safety and quality, having a dedicated safety office in China as well as onsite safety inspection team and procedures in its U.S headquarters in Twinsburg, Ohio, near Cleveland.

Soon, top toy industry panels, parenting journals and industry experts started to nationally recognize Wild Republic with numerous awards and honors, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Golden Seal of Approval, multiple National Parenting Center Seals of Approval, and Parents’ Choice Awards, among many others. Everything at Wild Republic was going great and then it happened… The company’s first exaggeration to a family of animals resulted in an international phenomenon! In 1999, Wild Republic opened the doors on its monkey house and released the Hanging Monkeys line, a group of plush monkeys that featured longer than normal arms and legs than typical apes and monkeys with Velcro pads on their hands and feet. Soon, everywhere you looked there were children, even adults, with Wild Republic’s long-armed monkeys strung around their necks, arms, backpacks and rearview mirrors. The infestation was amazing and Wild Republic used its species-specific understanding to add various different and unusual primates to the product line. The Hanging Monkeys were everywhere, even making appearances on the highest rated television shows, such as Friends and Seinfeld, and news programs, The Today Show and Good Morning America. The trend still exists today. Humans have a love affair with monkeys and Wild Republic’s plush primates are always a best-seller year-in and year-out.

Everything was going even better at Wild Republic, and then it happened… again. In 2000, the company parlayed an eerily curious human fascination with an intriguing animal for another fun-loving creature craze. Wild Republic’s Snakes had the world wrapped up in every species from life-sized colorful boa constrictors and cobras to rattlers and garter snakes.

Wild Republic either has a knack for knowing the “next big thing,” at least in natural wildlife wonder when it comes to the human consciousness, or just by sticking to its formula for offering such a broad spectrum of varying animal species, the demand is already met with in the product line. “We always had snakes and monkeys in the line. All of sudden they became very popular and of course we were ready to give the world what they wanted. Everyone wanted to learn about these types of animals and we had them, in nearly every species readily available. It is great to be able to provide a really fun educational resource when people want to discover it,” Mr. Pillai said.

In 2002, Wild Republic embarked on one its first licensing efforts, an ambitious project that combined the strength of two very high profile and prestigious entities: The Audubon Society and The Cornell Laboratory. Together, Wild Republic launched a line of exacting species of birds that, not only looked exactly like the species, but could replicate the bird’s call, as provided by the Cornell Lab. A call recorded in their natural habitat.

Knowing that bird watching was mainstream America’s unacknowledged number one hobby in the world, Mr. Pillai made the commitment that Wild Republic would have to supply one of the most specific products to a very scrutinizing populous. The line was an instant hit with bird lovers, which was somewhat expected, but the unexpected bonus was the children’s interest, and the complete collect ability of the entire line. Today, Wild Republic still produces new species to its Audubon bird line each year.

For 30 years, Wild Republic has held a quality of product and educational value that has lent itself to be a standard of fun and involvement for children to learn about the world around them. And for 30 years, the K&M commitment was also relayed in its corporate social responsibility too. While the product was a creative way to teach about wildlife, Mr. Pillai also placed his company in a position to help all living creatures it the world, including the people of the world. In addition to living wildlife, both wild and domestic animals, Wild Republic provides regular contributions and percentage of profits donated to a variety of international humane organizations. Mr. Pillai said.

“We have always held firm to supporting the entire world we live in with monetary and action-oriented support. We help and protect less fortunate people, especially mothers and children from Abhya, in my country of birth, India.”

Recently, Wild Republic was escorted onto the world stage again, when its relationship for supplying product to an internationally renowned zoo led to a relationship with one of the world’s most popular animal educators: Steve Irwin, founder of the Australia Zoo. The charismatic and passionate environmentalist and TV personality put learning about nature and world wildlife into mainstream America, and Wild Republic was on-board to create a line of products called The Steve Irwin Wildlife Adventure Series. In 2008, the relationship with the Australia Zoo was extended to an even younger age group with a new toy range inspired by Bindi Irwin, the daughter of Steve and Terri Irwin. Living at one of the world’s most famous zoos, Bindi emerged as a communicator to a younger generation and Wild Republic could create a product line based on a real little girl, who could speak on a peer level while offering some playful fun by influencing the products with some of her personal favorite species and activities.

The Wild Republic Bindi products have earned a multitude of awards including, Dr. Toys Top 10 Toys of the Year, Toy Wishes Magazine Top Picks products, and Creative Child’s Seal of Approval.

Today, Wild Republic’s reputation continues its strength with several endeavors, including a relationship with some of the world’s foremost names in science and nature. In 2008, Wild Republic was a proud supporter of the ZMA Association for its Year of the Frog program, developing several awareness oriented products and endangered species toys and collectibles for the ZMA’s special year-long program. In addition, Wild Republic continues its ongoing effort with National Geographic with licensing agreements that support Arctic Tale, the theatrical release and DVD from National Geographic Films and Paramount Classics; the worldwide IMAX® film Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, and the National Geographic Kids Entertainment’s PBS KIDS children’s television series, Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies.

Vishnu Chandran, Executive Director, said, “Each and every year, we strive to add innovation to the Wild Republic line of products. This year we are very focused on our social responsibilities by introducing a wonderful line of product constructed from organic materials.”

For its 30th Anniversary year, Wild Republic continues to stay at the forefront of leadership in safe and responsible world concerns, launching its 100% Organic, a group of new products that have all been developed from completely organic materials including Soy, Coconut, and Organic cotton fleece with organic cotton stuffing.

Staying with the societal trends and cultural fascinations, Wild Republic will also roll into the popular skateboarding scene to bring its natural wild awareness to the forefront with a line of boy-oriented action figures called Mongo Grinders. The cool, skateboarding zoo dudes are various animal species that carry an important mission of teaching environmental concerns when, as the story goes, they sneak out of the zoo one night to skate the streets, only to discover that the planet’s ecosystems are in danger. The Mongo Grinders are set to reach and teach other ‘boarders and fans about conservation because Planet Earth is the only skate park!

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