Plus-Plus - One shape, endless possibilities! tBR Company of the Week
By now you have probably seen them - the clear tubes, hanging on spinner racks, or standing in shelf displays, full of pieces that look like two ‘plus’ signs mashed together. But did you know that every one of those colorful toys is made in Denmark in a zero-plastic-waste, wind-powered factory?
Plus-Plus was created in Denmark in the 1980’s, and for many years was sold exclusively to kindergartens and schools around Scandinavia. Educators loved its simple shape, which fosters open-ended creativity in a broad age range of children. Then in 2009, a group of private investors purchased the company, seeing sales potential beyond the Nordic region.
In 2012, sporting a new brand look and logo, Plus-Plus made its debut at Spielwarenmesse in Nurnberg, Germany, where it found its first international distributors. Plus-Plus pieces were available in two sizes and in 3 color ways - Basic, Neon and Pastel. Ryan Hamilton and Bret Faber, at the time with their distribution company, Geared for Imagination, recognized the potential in the brand and secured the rights for United States distribution. Plus-Plus launched in the US in the summer of 2012 at ASTRA Marketplace and the Atlanta and New York Gift shows.
From 2012 to 2015, Plus-Plus continued to grow internationally, adding distribution in dozens of other countries and expanding its product offering, but the US sales were hampered by packaging and products with limited consumer appeal. In order to create products that were a better fit for the US market and to focus its sales efforts, in 2016 Geared for Imagination was closed, and Plus-Plus USA was born as a joint venture between Plus-Plus A/S, Bret Faber and Ryan Hamilton. In a short time, the US team created its bestselling Tubes, open-ended baseplates, and award-winning Learn to Build sets, all founded on the simple Plus-Plus shape.
Today, Plus-Plus is sold in over 40 countries worldwide and has won numerous awards, including Oppenheim and ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids, and now has a TOTY-nominated construction toy with its GO! Street Racing Super Set. Additionally, Plus-Plus USA has been among South Carolina’s 25 fastest-growing companies for two years in a row, and this year entered the Inc. Magazine 5000 fastest growing companies at #985.
One of the strengths of the brand is that it is, to borrow a phrase from Funko’s Brian Mariotti, ‘channel agnostic,’ and as such is sold in every conceivable type of retailer - outdoor stores, candy shops, kids' hair salons, airport stores, zoos & aquariums, bookstore and many more. Plus-Plus also has a rapidly growing educational customer base and is used both in the classroom and in homeschool curricula.
In an already eventful year, Plus-Plus had its biggest product launch yet in 2020. The GO! line debuted at Spielwarenmesse & New York Toy Fair, introducing wheeled play to the brand for the first time. GO! is not just a wheel, but an open-ended addition to the brand that allows kids to build cars, windmills, carousels, catapults and more. Then in December, its new product BOKS, a play platform designed for kids and ‘kidults’, was successfully funded on Kickstarter and will come to retail stores in January 2021.
In October, Plus-Plus announced that it will now power its factory in the Danish countryside with 100% wind energy, taking a dramatic step in sustainability. Additionally, all its toys are made from food-grade materials and manufactured with zero plastic waste. 2021 will bring new product launches and marketing initiatives, as Plus-Plus seeks to connect more with its active fan base through its app, online idea guides, and how-to videos.
Plus-Plus remains committed to creative, open-ended play, founded on one simple shape, along with accessories that feed the imaginations of both kids and ‘kidults’. One shape - endless possibilities!
Head of Product Development at Plus-Plus A/S
Head of Operations at Plus-Plus USA