If you were asked to name one of the fastest-growing toy companies in the world, what company would you name? Don't put too much effort into trying to figure it out, because I'm going to tell you right now: ZURU Toys. Founded in a garage in New Zealand in 2004, ZURU Toys now employs over 750 people worldwide (20,000 people, indirectly), with products that are distributed and marketed in nearly 90 countries.
What's that got to do with Nerf? Well, ZURU's X-Shot line of foam dart blasters has been making waves recently, largely because of their near-Nerf levels of quality that are being sold for a fraction of the price. Here's your exclusive look at how they do it!
The X-Shot line of blasters was invented by a trio of New Zealander siblings, Mat, Anna and Nick Mowbray. For X-Shot, they had one simple, but daunting goal in mind: they wanted to take on the blaster giant Nerf. But they didn't start out by inventing blasters. Rather, they started small. In fact, their first product was a miniature hot-air balloon, which Nick (the youngest Mowbray sibling) sold door-to-door while still in high school. Not long after graduating, he joined his brother Mat in China to get the ball rolling on a larger scale. Mat had been inventing toys since age 11, and had studied mechanical engineering and automation at Massey University in New Zealand, so the China venture wasn't an overnight decision.
In fact, it was a highly calculated one. And with a string of hits like Robo Fish (Mat's idea, and the biggest selling toy of 2013), it wasn't long before they set their sites on the blaster world.
In thinking about the blaster space, the Mowbray siblings didn't have to dig too far--the X-Shot brand was born from the numerous backyard battles the youngsters waged growing up.
Now as adults with considerable toy sales experience under their belts, they set their sights on developing a blaster range that would equal Nerf in performance and aesthetics, but that could be sold at a fraction of that brand's price. The goal was to provide blaster fans with a new, high-value option in this space. And so they spent years working on designs, and similarly spent years having blaster wars around the office in an effort to perfect the ultimate battlefield weapon. "We wanted to improve the performance of the blaster category and allow kids to take their blaster battles to the next level, these blasters are set to secure the top performing position in the category," said Nick Mowbray, President of ZURU.
With the X-Shot brand now well-established and growing stronger by the day, the current X-Shot factory is a semi-automated facility in China that produces over 1.2 million blasters per month. The Mowbray family is involved in every facet of the business, and are the ones to thank for a vertical business structure that allows Zuru to design, manufacture and market their blasters with local talent, resulting in the ability to sell their blasters at some of the most competitive prices we've seen in the category (and to bring new products to market faster than competitors).
The goal? To make quality blaster play more accessible to kids across the world. But it's not just the price that matters--X-Shot wants to be known for their price and their quality, with years of engineering, research and development having been invested into all their X-Shot products.
Even though ZURU has grown to be a multi-million dollar company, there hasn’t been any “growing up” between the siblings and their blaster wars! ZURU has always fostered a close-knit, family like culture throughout the development of its products. And even if X-Shot isn't quite at Nerf levels of performance and quality just yet, the passion and dedication shown by everyone we've met from the ZURU team ensures they'll continue striving to be a price-to-performance leader, providing a solid blaster alternative for parents and enthusiasts for years to come.