Hi to Q-BA-MAZE fans new and old!from me, Andrew Comfort, inventor of Q-BA-MAZE.
It's been a while since I have posted to the blog and it's nice to be back : )
For those who have been following along, you already know that Q-BA-MAZE launched in summer 2007 and then left the market at the end of 2009. For more of the backstory see the posts from 2007 categorized here on the blog under "The Making of Q-BA-MAZE."
So what happened?
Our two biggest challenges were having a retail price that was too high and an insufficient means of distribution. Oh, right, and there was the Great Recession. Whoops. With better luck on the economic cycle and had our initial pricing been right, we (as a little start-up toy company) may have been able to break through and create our own distribution network while simultaneously growing the product line. But it wasn't in the cards.
On our side, however, by the end of 2009, we had proven the concept and had many fans and enthusiastic retailers AND a long pipeline of product extensions.
Based on those strengths, in the summer of 2010, we signed on with MindWare as our exclusive global manufacturer and distributor. MindWare has the distribution network we needed and they had the ability to improve the retail price.
After much effort, the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Starter Set finally reappeared on store shelves in August 2011 at the suggested retail price of $25. This set with 36 cubes and 14 marbles is what we had launched in summer 2007 for $50. So MindWare was able to cut our original MSRP in half! We announced this new pricing at the 2011 New York Toy Fair and for the first time in my several years of showing Q-BA-MAZE at trade shows, not one retailer coming by our booth complained about price. Just the opposite actually -- in the words of one retailer, "OK. NOW I can sell this."
One key factor in reducing the price was reducing the amount of material used to make each cube. This required making the walls of each cube thinner. Because both the side joints and the bottom pegs grip the walls of an adjoined cube, changing the wall thickness meant changing the joints and, therefore...making the new cubes incompatible with the original cubes. If there had been a way to maintain compatibility, we would have done it, but in order for Q-BA-MAZE to be an affordable and viable product, we had to make these adjustments.
To fans of the original Q-BA-MAZE who are disappointed that the new Q-BA-MAZE is incompatible with the original, I apologize. I hope that you understand that the changes we made were necessary in order for the Q-BA-MAZE idea to live on.
Now, since we were making new molds, we did also take the opportunity to make some functional improvements over the orignal cubes! And we are working away on some awesome Q-BA-MAZE extension items... This post is pushing up against the 500 word mark, so I'll sign off for now...but stay tuned for upcoming posts in which I'll review some of these improvements to the cube joinery and the upcoming new releases and more!